Friday, October 28, 2011

You really need my help

Every Wednesday, regardless of what else I am playing, I swing through the new release section of Xbox Live Marketplace. Usually this ends up with more games placed in the backlog, but this time something caught my eye that I had to play the demo of as soon as the download would allow. Right between a re-release (re-re-release?) of Daytona USA and Zombie Apocalypse: Never Die Alone was The War of the Worlds. A bit late for a licensed title based on that abysmal Tom Cruise project, I thought, which was enough incentive for me to read the rest of the description.

'Based on the original H. G. Wells story.' Ah, an excellent start.

'Side scrolling platformer.' What? Based on War of the Worlds?

'Featuring Patrick Stewart as the narrator' Oh Christ, someone click the download button while I go get a clean pair of pants.

At just shy of 2 gig is took a bit, but later that evening I was ready to sink my teeth into what I hoped would be a spiritual successor to Limbo. Thank goodness that I took the time to sample the demo before forking over my hard earned Microsoft points, because the only two things they got right were hiring the right person to do the narration and how the game looks. As soon as actually have to move the character and make him jump on to things nothing could save it. Remember how Out of this World played? What you told the character to do and what he actually did were usually quite different. It was forgivable then because we didn't know any better, but for a modern platformer to make such basic a mistake as forcing the character jump a second time if the jump button is held down a fraction of a second too long is right out. Leaping from platform to platform should not be the equivalent of a one frame link in Street Fighter.

I have said it before, but who tested this game? Five minutes in and a play tester with any brains at all would submit the following bug report: Jumping is ass. Fix it now. I hereby offer my services to any game company, big or little, to play your games for you and tell you what sucks. This is no joke (well, not a very good one). As an outside agent with no agenda beyond helping people not make idiotic mistakes it would be much easier for me to say 'this part of your game sucks' then some pimply faced intern worried about keeping his minimum wage job. The War of the Worlds is a great looking game; moody, interestingly lit, sparsely detailed in the exact same way that made Limbo so compelling. Patrick Stewart's Star Trek royalties check must have been late, but his misfortune is our boon. If only the game weren't terrible, I would play it.

They should have just re-skinned Outland.


Yes, I am playing The Cursed Crusade. Yes, it is the second crusade themed game that I have played recently. No, crossing over into hell themed versions of the level to look for crucifixes with beating hearts does not make any sense. Yes, it is an Atlus game, so that renders all previous questions and concerns moot.

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