Monday, October 31, 2011

Damned from the start

Usually losing all of your health is the main reason your character dies in an action game. It can be from taking to much physical damage, falling into a bottomless pit or stumbling into a seemingly shallow pool of water that still drowns you, almost all death can be attributed to your hitpoints hitting zero. While health (or constitution, to coin a D&D phrase) is present in The Cursed Crusade, it is not the characters health that matters. Armor breaks off in specific places, an idea that I really liked, and any further hits in that same area reduce your health. Still, I paid much more attention to the health of my weapons that anything else, because once those are gone it was over.

The idea of weapon strength is not necessarily a bad one, assuming that it is at least based in reality. A good sword should last more than a few swings, and even the best swords in Cursed Crusade would break after only a few minutes of use. The games does allow you to walk around with a veritable arsenal: a two handed weapon, a ranged weapon, two one handed weapons and a shield, so you are never short of one to use, but the animation for actually pulling one of the back up blades out and using it can be interrupted by enemy attacks, attacks that you can no longer parry because your damn blade has sheered off at the hilt. You can't run away effectively because there isn't a button to disengage from combat, so you slowly back pedal, waving a glorified pen knife and the bad guys and begging them to let you take three seconds to change swords.

Combat looks like it should be a deep, rewarding experience, at least that is what the pages and pages of unlockable combos would like you to believe. In truth you find the one string for each weapon that you can pull off consistently and use it over and over. Once more, I have been spoiled by Bayonetta; third person action combat without a wide variety attacks that are actually useful is no longer forgivable. She might actually fit in this game, as the templar and his spaniard spend a great deal of time jumping back and forth between the real world and the cursed version of the same level. Picture Soul Reaver's dual world idea, but take out all the puzzles that made use of the mechanic and replace them with pointless collectibles that can only be acquired while in the hell side. Now remember that Soul Reaver hasn't aged all that well, and you have Cursed Crusade.

It's bad, but not funny bad, just depressing bad. It takes itself so seriously that it is very difficult to not hold it accountable for its glaring faults. A little whimsy would have gone a long way, though I suppose finding whimsy in the crusades is not exactly the easiest thing. Genocide is rarely amusing.

Except it Warhammer. Then it is called 'level 1.'

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