It starts off as comically bad and ends as some kind of punishment from god. He has looked upon gaming and he has seen our endless parade of FPSs, our fetishisation of macho caricatures, and he has delivered this unto us. Look upon his judgement, mortals, and weep for your salvation.
This is Command & Conquer: Renegade, and it slew Westwood Studios just as it has slain your belief in a just and decent world.
Back in 2002, Westwood Studios were riding high. Their little strategy game had blossomed into a megahit with a star sequel, and a veritable chorus of voices were crying out for an FPS set in the universe. Sadly, every single soprano, tenor and baritone came from a studio executive, because this game fucking bombed.
Celtic Kings styles itself as ‘[a] great mixture of two genres – adventure and real-time strategy [with] beautifully stylized 2D graphics [and] an inspiring storyline set during the Gallic Wars’. Nowhere in that list does it say ‘the most prolonged escort mission since Callgirls 3: Banker’s Bonus’.
I’ve seen less blatant padding in a drag queen’s bra. The devs were all about two things: putting vital locations on opposite map corners, and druids. Druid is another word for speed trap.
Singles 2: Triple Trouble turned me into a Pickup Artist.
I was clicking away, trying to persuade the fella I was courting to allow me further than a kiss on the cheek. What’s the problem? I thought. Do I need to give him more presents before he’ll give up the goods? Is he holding out until I get a better sofa? I’ll tell him how pretty he is again.
Might and Magic VI is a game composed entirely of fetch quests. You go on six fetch quests for the items required to unlock another four fetch quests which will, eventually, allow you access to a fetch quest. I’d love to see the planning room for this project:
“Okay, Steve, we need you to go and get an old lady’s groceries. Then, with the money she gives you, catch a bus to the home of a guy who delivers The Yellow Pages for a living. If you bring him a newspaper he will let you look through a spare copy for a freelance programmer. When you get to his house…”
And then, after procuring the wine, flowers, French Chef and Barry White CD needed to make the programmer’s girlfriend forgive him for forgetting to feed her goldfish, Steve sat down and wrote the game plot.
You’re evil, in possession of an abnormally high intellect, and you want everyone to recognise this and give you presents for it. Starting as little more than a humble dealer in human suffering, you gradually work your way up the ladder of crime until you find yourself squatting in your subterranean base, considering how deep inside the volcano to build your doomsday device.
Not an auspicious goal, admittedly – no one likes being told they share a life plan with Ming the Merciless – but one that’s easy to grasp. Like the world. Between your cruel, talon-nailed fingers.
Written 21/02/2012. First posted here.
Hesitantly, I pushed open the door. Before me lay a tunnel heading deep into the earth. To my right, about five feet down the passageway, was a door. I tried the handle.
Barred from the other side.
“Oh,” I said, “This’ll be my shortcut out at the end of the dungeon.”
It’s no way to play a game. Catacomb or cave, ancient temple or mystic pilgrim’s path: Bethesda have a formula and they’re sticking to it. It consists of a long crawl through twisty tunnels, the occasional large room to spice things up, and a whole lot of cannon fodder. There will be trippable traps. Even if it’s a sewer.
Written 21/11/2011. First posted here.
The word of the day, boys and girls, is ‘bleak’. Synonyms include: desolate, dismal, disheartening, and dear god let it end.
Today’s colour will be purple; as in prose. Not quite ‘limitless abysses of inexplicably coloured twilight and bafflingly disordered sound’ but with more than a touch of the ultraviolet nonetheless. This is purely because it fits the feel of the game, and isn’t the slightest bit really fun to write.
Project Zomboid is a post-apocalyptic survival game from Indie Stone. It’s in open development, so this review should be absolutely useless by Christmas, but as I type this we’re on version 0.1.5d, it’ll cost you £4.99, and the developers were robbed just over a month ago and could really use the cash.