Review by IgnorantWiseman
"This game suffers from its own innovation and lack of content"
All right, let's start off with a list of things this game does right and then a list of things it does wrong.
Single Player - 7/10. The positives: -Simple mechanics, standard controls and routine weapons. If you've played Doom 3, you'll feel right at home here. The gravity effects are new and impressive, though they can lead to disorientation (some might argue they're supposed to do that). The spirit walk form is a nice addition to game-play and it allows for a bit of variety in the otherwise run and gun action. The Atmosphere is sufficiently alien and dark to contribute to the Science Fiction theme story (which is overall solid). The music is well written and appropriate to the gameplay most of the time. The learning curve is also well done, allowing the player to get a feel for the game before being thrown into combat, but managing not to feel too much like a tutorial. The graphics are good, but not the best on the system. The difference from regular TV to HD is appreciable, and it's in HD that they shine.
The negatives: -The biggest problem this game suffers from is the complete lack of challenge. The new "Death Walker" System allows a player to die as many times as they want and come back exactly where they fell with the situation as they left it. All that is required is that you play a simple mini game in order to replenish your health. The Mini game is ludicrously easy and removes all sense of urgency or challenge from the game. This new system makes you effectively immortal throughout the game. The Harder Difficulty tries to make things more complicated by removing all the health packs from the levels. This only means that you'll play the death walker mini game more often. Otherwise the difficulty remains static throughout both difficulties.
Other problems with the single player are more minor. The physics engine isn't the best, with round objects often refusing to roll or rolling at peculiar angles. But given the way the game plays with gravity, this can be overlooked.
The story is solid, but nothing more. It's been cobbled together from numerous other Science Fiction stories and is often predictable. That said, it's also tolerable and doesn't hinder the game much. The voice acting on the other hand is abysmal and can be painful to listen to. The NPCs are too passive sounding to be convincing, while the voice of the Alien's leader is often muffled and difficult to hear over the ambient sounds.
Single player score +4 (out of 4) for functionality, +1 (out of 3) for ingenuity, +2 (out of 3) for appearance. -2 for lack of anything even remotely resembling difficulty. +2 bonus for getting gravity shifting right.
Total Score for Single player 7/10
The good: The best thing this game brings to the party is its gravity shifting. Being able to fire at enemies from above or while standing on the walls while maintaining a 1st person perspective and not having it feel weird contributes a lot to the over all fun factor of this game. The live play is good and the spirit walk function makes for a new twist on FPS multi-player that adds to the fun of the game.
The Bad: -1st and foremost, this game looses points for not having balanced weapons. The multi-player usually ends up being a game of who can find the rocket launcher and camp it. If the other weapons did sufficient damage, the game could be more fun, however the default weapon is little more than a joke, the sniper rifle function on it is equally useless as it gives away your position every time you take it out, and the shotgun (acid sprayer) is woefully under-powered, even at close range. The only weapons that are even remotely effective are the Leech gun which has the highest potential rate of fire and damage, the rocket launcher which is a one to two hit kill weapon, the grenades/mines and the machine gun because it has a grenade launcher feature. No weapon in this game can counter the threat of the explosive launching ones, making the game one sided in preference of whoever finds the explosive weapons (which always spawn in the same spot) first.
The next problem the multi-player has is its lack of variety in levels and game modes. Sporting 8 levels and only 2 game modes (Death-match and Team Death-match) the multi-player gets old really fast. The lack of a capture the flag mode was a poor decision somewhere, and the game suffers from a lack of co-op play.
The game also loses points for its lack of a split-screen multi-player. Playing over the net is fine, but nothing beats playing with three other people and laughing and joking around in person.
Multi-player score. +8 for gravity effects and +2 for spirit walker. -1 for lack of offline play, -2 for lack of game modes and -4 for lack of weapon balance.
Overall, this game averages to a 5/10 in terms of sheer numbers I made up. However the single player is fairly well executed and the multi-player could be patched and updated through Xbox Live. If it is (At no charge!) then the overall score could rise to as much as 8/10 (that means new game modes, a fix to balance the multi-player out a bit, possibly an on-line co-op mode) It will still lose points for missing an offline multi-player and for having a terribly easy single player experience due to the Death Walker system.
I hope the review was helpful.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 07/13/06
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