Did you hear what I said? Jack ####in’ Black!
There. Now you don’t need to play this game.
Published by: Electronic Arts
Developed by: Double Fine Productions
Genre: Action-adventure, sandbox, real-time strategy
Number of Players: single-player campaign, 4-player multiplayer
US: October 13, 2009
Europe: October 16, 2009
ESRB: M BBFC: 15 OFLC: MA15+ PEGI: 18+
Also Available On: PS3
…Just kidding. I suppose I ought to employ my full critical faculties for this game, even if it doesn’t necessarily deserve it.
Last week I talked about games with good writing, and how few and far between they are. Well, here’s a game with decent writing – there are some funny jokes, and the opening cutscene is pretty amusing, which is good. If you’re going to stop the action every minute or so for a three-minute cutscene, at least make sure they’re funny. And I liked the character of Ophelia. She’s a tragic figure who grounds the story well.
But the gameplay doesn’t hold up. Surprising, right, considering how many different categories it falls under – action? Sandbox? RTS? – All game types which can be lots of fun. Combining them all – that’s interesting, that’s new. But it results in a game in which every single element feels kind of half-assed. I didn’t care about the sandbox element because every single side mission was pretty much the same, involving the same stock characters doing the same things. Games like Zelda work because every single town/island/geographical landmark you go to has a different vibe, different characters, different things to do. Don’t bother making a sandbox game if you’re not even going to bother varying the world.
And the action is lame, too. I basically button-mashed my way to the end credits, because that’s all they ask of you. And an action/RTS is a real interesting idea, guys, but the reason why games like Age of Empires work is because you play God, essentially, looking down at all of your little pawns, which makes it easy to see and control what everyone is doing. When you have no map and have to run your little guy back and forth all over everywhere at once, and occasionally get caught up trying to defend your idiotic heavy-metal brethren, it just feels overly hectic – and there’s no room for strategy. Supposedly it’s possible to control individual units or groups of units at a time, but you won’t, because it’s not actually possible in the heat of battle to go running up to every single particular ####ing group and command them. Maybe there’s a way to make an action/RTS element like that work, and if so, that’d be a lot of fun – playing a tiny MacArthur, commanding troops and kicking ass, would be great. But this isn’t.
And where the hell is Mount Rockmore?! WHY THE HELL DO YOU KEEP TALKING ABOUT MOUNT ROCKMORE IF YOU’RE NEVER GOING TO TELL ME WHERE IT IS?! I HATE YOU DOUBLE FINE PRODUCTIONS.
P.S. But hey! JACK BLACK!
Photo Credit: EA Games