The War of the Worlds
About the Game
The storyline follows the original book by H.G. Wells (1898), later narrated by radio broadcast by Orson Welles (1938). The plot revolves around an alien invasion which takes place in London. As the main character, you find yourself trying to survive amidst obstacles, enemies, devices, and torturous landscapes in order to defeat the onslaught and locate your loved ones. I feel that several of the elements from Spielburg's War of the World's (2005) were taken into account and gave a little familiarity; given that I've seen the movie a few times.
Consisting of your basic side-scrolling linear arcade game there isn't anything new or groundbreaking; in reference to the platforming genre. You'll find yourself amidst a few controls which manipulate your player... which are your standard walk, a button to run/sprint, a jump button, and action button for usable items such as controls and levers; and later you become equipped with a weapon for limited use.
While the controls sounds good in theory, the major and most detrimental part of this game are the controls. Undeniably there will be times where frustration will make you spew words from your mouth you didn't know could be uttered, and anger will exist in the form of breaking expensive objects. It will take some good self control in order to keep from throwing the controller through your television on this game.
The sound and visuals really place you deep within the ruins of London. Music is orchestrated and the key to the plot is the narration as you progress; provided by Patrick Stewart. Though if Stewart narrated a painful bowel movement, you'd still be tempted to try it, even knowing the bloody risks.
The graphics are nice and even after hours (or in my case days) you will find yourself wanting to keep persisting on completing each section just to see what awaits. The colors are dark and dreary, mostly black and white, with some colors thrown in to illustrate important parts of the story or key items needed to progress. There are a few moments however in which the foreground is used to block your view in order to make things more difficult and scenic I admit it will look good, but only after it causes you to die.
I played this game with a roommate and I found myself looking at the game thinking how easy it could be, and fun. However the controls are so devastatingly bad and sluggish that you will be your own worst enemy. I couldn't count the times that a fall or a jump from too high lead to my untimely death. Sometimes the character doesn't seam to be able to latch onto corners, and in areas where you are racing from enemies, you'll be doomed to repeat the section countless times. Another issue is with hanging from ledges... sometimes up sends you up, and down sends you up. Likewise pressing down might send you up, Not sure if bad controller scripting or just confusing the simple process of moving around actually is. With the fact in which you should be running most of the game, I don't understand why they give you the option to run with holding a button down. The buttons can't be changed in any settings menu, so either your thumb or right trigger finger is destined to be sore just from holding a button you're forced to use nearly the entire game. In fact I can't see why you would ever need to walk.
If you die, you won't start right back, you'll be pushed back to wherever the game's checkpoint system placed you. Sometimes this is helpful, other times it can be far from where you started. Be forewarned, if you get punished enough to quit, when you return, if you didn't finish the level, you don't go back to a checkpoint, you start the entire level over. With 16 or so levels, some are quite lengthy and harder compared to others.
Enemies come in the form of flying saucers, robots, lasers, particle beams, and other atmospheric effects. Falling, pits, and other nasty traps await your adventure. As you progress through each level you will encounter new objects and scenery. I found that it's a safe bet to assume if you don't know what something is/or does, just know that it kills you; or will help you die somehow. Enemies are very random in pattern and it seems luck is the only thing you have in surviving. Skill doesn't even seem to be a factor; as much as determination and multiple attempts to pass each section. Timing your movement and theirs together seems really just based on whatever the game decides to play you on each life you start.
With that said, the achievements are mostly level based with the exception of one for being undetected on a level, another for being faster than a time given, and another for dropping an object on a sentry ship, which is almost a given in order to finish the game. Just remember to get those achievements along the way because there is no level select. Now for the bad news, and the reason for my first review of this game, there are two achievements which are almost a sick joke. It makes me want to slap the creators of this game in the face. Even on their own website and in-game commentary states that only 1 in 148,000 gamers will complete all the achievements. My questions is... do they really expect to sell 148,000 copies of this game? One achievement is for not dieing the entire game, and the other is for not dieing the entire game in one sitting. Unless there's some magic trick discovered, this will be impossible to 100%. So fair warning on starting this game if it looks attainable in all aspects. I think that even watching a video walkthrough couldn't help you from dieing. You'll have to spend a lot of time with trial and error just to get your clunky controls over certain sections. The game in itself isn't hard, but the controls make it nearly unplayable (at least for certain spots, less several takes with one in which you don't die).
A quick recap...
Music and sound effects are awesome.
Storyline is great and narration by Patrick Stewart.
Varied enemies and unique challenges to each level.
Controls are absolutely horrid.
Frustration level will turn your hair gray like the background/foreground.
Achievements for 100% are unobtainable.
Impossible not to die at least once through 16 levels of a several hour game.
No level select. Simple begin a new game and continue options.
The game itself is good, with a lush environment, but the controls just crush the game to the two stars I gave. I would recommend trying the demo first; and complete that for a brief taste of the ashes and rubble that await you.