Nut Load. Mini reviews of games old and new. No fuss. No spoilers. Occasional shock face.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days (2010)

Genre: Third Person Shooter  |  Players: 1 - 2 (co-op)  |  Developer: IO Interactive

Kane & Lynch 2 is a third person action shooter told primarily from Lynch's point of view; he's the balding one on the cover. You kill a lot of people, then move onto the next location and kill a lot more people. The story is secondary to the killing of bad guys and cops. It injects some emotion early on and attempts to sustain it throughout, but it’s rudimentary, arising from acts of merciless violence. The level of violence in the game means it’s definitely not for the very young.

The camera takes on the role of a third protagonist. It’s technically a fixed perspective, but that perspective is from a cheap, grainy, low res handheld digital camera. When the action gets frantic the image pixelates, throwing up deliberate screen artefacts as the ‘operator’ gets shaken or attempts to keep up. It’s a stylistic choice that helps enhance the action, and while it'll certainly irritate some players there’s no denying it feels cinematic. If you've watched Alfonso CuarĂ³n’s film Children of Men (2006) you’ll likely remember the lengthy scene that takes place on the war-torn streets? Playing K&L is exactly like being in that scene for an extended period of time.

It’s a short game, but for once that’s a good thing, any longer and it would begin to feel like it had overstayed its welcome. I got the feeling the lack of anything to do outside of the singular objective was to keep the player from getting bored; too much wandering around, hunting for collectibles, etc, would cause the game to lose momentum. I enjoyed it mostly, but felt a little empty at the hurried and deeply unsatisfying ending.

I didn't play the online or co-op modes. I imagine the co-op would allow for some interesting flanking manoeuvres? Otherwise, what would be the point?

Buyer’s Guide:
Available on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.

3½ lacerations out of 5

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Clive Barker's Jericho (2007)

Genre: First Person Shooter  |  Players: 1  |  Developer: MercurySteam

Jericho’s premise, which I suspect is the only input author Clive Barker really had despite having his name prominently on the box, is pretty fantastic. It could make a hell of a novel. Before God created man he created the Firstborn. It turned out wrong. In fear and shame God banished it to the abyss, where it remained. The Firstborn wasn't entirely happy about that. If it were a book that’s the blurb you’d get on the back. The remainder of the story will be revealed if you play the game.

What follows is a squad based FPS that sees you sent on location to contain a threat. You control what could've been interesting characters, voiced by cheesy B-Movie style voice actors who succeed in sucking out any hope the characters had of transcending the second dimension. That’s a shame, because they each have a distinctive style visually. So too does the game world; it’s often a lot more interesting than the usual war-torn COD and BF environments.

The lighting is effective when it isn't being overly-dark and moody. The sound is also good, with guns sounding chunky. Music adds to the tension.

On the flip side, it’s primarily a chaotic and repetitive slog that sees you plugging away at Cenobite-esque bad guys in painfully linear, restrictive tunnels. It also suffers from the most overused and illogical FPS crime: the enemy will take two dozen bullets to the face with nary a twitch, but will fall like babies after one or two melee attacks. I don’t exaggerate when I say two dozen bullets. Those fuckers eat lead like I eat curry: hot and plentiful.

There are occasional Quick Time Events (button prompts that you have to press as quickly as possible) to break the monotony, with emphasis on the Quick; they should be renamed Lightning Fast Time Events.

The game’s faults could've easily been rectified given a little love and effort. As it is, it’ll please people who just want to shoot things in the face, but even they may tire of the experience sooner rather than later. File under: Missed potential.

Buyer's Guide:
Available on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.

2½ lengthy loading screens out of 5