Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Hungry Are The Dead

Considering the pain in the ass it has been trying to upload the screenshots somewhere - anywhere - for this review, expect much vitriol and rage. I was trying to think of what game I could review for this Halloween edition of Big Mean Flash Gamer, but when I saw Hungry Are The Dead, I knew there was no other choice. There are worse games out there, but this one caught my eye.

It's kind of sad, really, because I'm a huge zombie fan. In my view, the zombie is the greatest movie monster ever. They may not look much, but that's the beauty of zombies - you can outrun them, you can kill them by bashing their heads in, but once they have you cornered and surrounded, there's no escape. The zombies are the ultimate monsters because they never lose.

It also doesn't matter how ridiculous the premise of a zombie movie is, or how poor the acting. People really only want to see one thing, and that's hordes of the undead skulking across the landscape devouring helpless people who could defeat the zombies if they worked together, but instead fall apart. Anyway, you would think that, in the same way there's no chance you can screw up a zombie movie, nor is there any way to screw up a zombie game. But you'd be wrong.

Hungry Are The Dead seems promising enough (but then, don't they all?) You're stuck in the typical zombie survival situation, holed up in a house with a seemingly endless supply of ammo and even friggin' grenades. A nice addition to this game that I haven't seen elsewhere is the option to equip a laser sight to your rifle.

Well, gee, do I want to have pin-point accuracy when I blowing zombie heads clean off their necks? Sure, why not? Other games would have you work for this luxury, but as you'll soon discover, Hungry Are The Dead is not about providing a challenge. But before we go further, can anyone tell me what's wrong with this picture?

OK, so you managed to track down the only gun store in town that still stocked grenades, but you somehow forgot to put a door on your house? I know you can buy stuff later to improve your defences, but seriously, you're trying to tell me locking the front door just slipped your mind?

Anyway, you don't much time to think about it, because here come the zombies. Ah yes, time to get down to business!

What the fuck is that? OK, I get it, it's the first level, but you're really telling me this is all I have to deal with? Damn, no wonder I felt confident enough to keep the front door open. Indeed, for the first couple of levels you won't have to worry about more than two zombies on screen at a time. And with the laser sight to help you, it starts to become pretty ridiculous. There were times when I would kill ghouls that hadn't even appeared yet.

Eventually bigger, faster zombies, will appear. Some of my personal favourites were this guy:

And the dude in the orange shirt, who managed to hold onto his unconvincing wig despite having his face eaten off:

You'll notice some pretty bitchin' defences in those last few screenshots. At the end of every level you go to an upgrade screen, which allows you to increase the size of the clip in your rifle, the strength of your ammo, and purchase defences like barbed wire and mines. Yeah, that's right - frickin' mines.

You get money for every zombie you kill, and you can then use that cash to upgrade. I've always thought that was a little weird in zombie survival games. I mean, the entire world has been overrun with the living dead, yet some enterprising guy has managed to get all this crazy shit together and every day he runs around selling it to people. If/when the zombie apocalypse comes, I want to be that guy - ain't nobody fuckin' with him.

Anyway, the first thing you'll want to look into is increasing the clip size of your gun. The reason for this is because when you want to reload, you have to click on the big pile of bullets next to your character. Apparently it was beyond the ability of the developers to include a reload button on the keyboard - what the hell else is the R button for? If you have any money left over you can start buying all the iron fences and anti-personnel mines you like, but at the end of the day, quick reflexes and an amped-up rifle will be your best friends in this game.

So you go along, shooting zombies, upgrading weapons, shooting more zombies, playing with the grenades... and then it happens. You're four or five levels in, and all of a sudden here it comes, shuffling towards you:

A headless zombie.

A headless. Fucking. Zombie.

It doesn't matter how much or how little interest you have in the zombie subgenre. Everyone knows that there is no such thing as a headless zombie. It's impossible for a zombie to exist without a head. And yet there it is.

What the fuck am I supposed to shoot!?

Oh yeah, I shoot its body three times, and then it dies. I experimented a little later on, and I discovered that shooting any zombie three times in its torso will kill it. God damn it. George Romero would spin in his grave, if he was dead. Headless fucking zombies... I'm sorry, but how do you make a zombie game and mess up something that simple that badly?

Anyway, if you manage to keep playing despite that fuck-up, you'll quickly find that the game has no objective other than "shoot the zombies." Once you've upgraded both your weapons, once you've installed every defensive item you can, what do you do then? You shoot more zombies. There's no military unit coming to rescue you in a month, there's no super zombie that you have to defeat before you can make your escape to civilisation. You just sit there and shoot zombies - forever.

In the end I got bored of killing zombies before they even made it half way across the screen and started tossing grenades at them. The grenades are great because once you max them out, they explode like little H-bombs.

Ka-boom! And yeah, there's not much else to say. Oh, you do get zombie dogs after ten levels:

I don't know where you sit on the whole "zombie animals" debate. I guess I'm more on the Living Dead side of the argument, which says only humans can become zombies. But there's also the Resident Evil train of thought, which says it is capable for animals to become infected. Of course, Resident Evil fans also believe Milla Jovovich can act, so take any opinion they may have with a grain of salt.

Well, there'll come a a point, after you've killed your 529th ghoul or so, that you will realise this game is nothing more than a repetitive waste of your time. So what does one do when this happens? Simple: stop shooting and watch as the undead set off your explosives.

Sweet! I think I did pretty well - I played this piece of crap for a good thirty minutes before finally deciding to see what happens when the zombies get in. Well obviously, this:

That screen is actually more frightening than anything in the game, which is really depressing. But once you're dead, you get a final score that shows you how well you did.

Undead Champion! Yeah!


Oh man, this took me a good hour longer than I ever thought it would. I need to get away from my computer. OK, so in summation - this game sucks, don't play it, and have a happy Halloween.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Kogent Knight

OK, for the first Big Mean Flash Gamer review, I decided to go with a game that has been around for a couple of years now, but which, whenever I play it, annoys me as much now as it did the first time - Kogent Knight.

The plot is nothing particularly original, but that's OK, because there's very little you can do with the whole medieval platformer anyway. You play a knight, and it's your first day on the job.

Apparently, though, you're something of a lazy sod, not even capable of getting to a meeting with the friggin' queen on time. Anyway, it's probably not a bad thing, as you happen to see a bunch of bandits make off with the princess.

Oh yes, rather than rush to the meeting and assemble the rest of the knights for a daring rescue, you decide to head off on your own. And oh, you're also illiterate as well as stupid. I know the intro is trying to be funny but I'm not buying it, such is my dislike for this game.

Anyway, you start the game and proceed to strike and block your way through eight of the easiest levels in the history of platform games. I swear to God, if you actually have difficulty getting past any of the monsters you meet in this game, you are either a moron or a two-year-old. None of the enemies pose much, if any, challenge.

You meet plenty of these trolls along the way, and other than the fact that they like to take cheap shots at you, they really aren't difficult at all.

Uh oh, it's a black knight! And as we all know, black knights are tough bastards, right? Right?

Yeah, not in this game.

Woah, check out this guy with the sickle! He looks pretty badass!

Well, yeah, he looks pretty badass, until you whack him a couple of times. Then he turns into a black ball, which explodes before giving you money. And yeah, I know how nuts that sounds.

The only enemy that poses any threat is the guy with the boomerang, because he can attack you from a distance. But once you get close enough you can take him down easily, and besides, you won't see him until the jungle levels.

Wait, jungle levels? And then after that you go through the desert. Jesus, how far away did they take this princess?

You press S for a light attack, A for a heavy attack, and D to defend. None of the controls will pose any trouble, and the fact that you can just load Kogent Knight up and immediately begin playing is a plus. Of course, once you start playing, you'll wonder why you bothered.

My biggest problem with the game is the red Stamina bar at the top. Every time you attack you lose some stamina. The good news is that if you don't press the attack buttons your stamina will regenerate. Unfortunately, the easiest way to do this is to just stand around. So you wait...

And you wait...

And you wait! The game will take you about twenty minutes to play from start to finish, and half that time involves waiting around for the fucking Stamina bar to fill up again!

"But who cares if it's a little low?" you may ask. "Why not just keep walking?"

Because if your Stamina bar is too low, this happens:


Oh my God! I am playing an illiterate asthmatic moron!

But it gets so much better, dear readers. Throughout the levels you collect coins (or rather, little silver spirals) which you can then use at the shop, which is handily located at the end of each level.

I only noticed this now, but the knight is as tall as the shop. Must be run by dwarves, or something. When I first came to the shop at the end of Act 1, I tried everything to get in. I pressed buttons, I clicked on it, but nothing happened. I figured it must be a glitch of some kind. But no, it wasn't. Sometimes you just can't get enter the shop. There's no real explanation for this.

On some levels there's a big "Closed" sign on the shop. OK, so what was the point of including the shop on the level at all, then, other than it meant the developers didn't have to go to the trouble of removing the graphic. God damn, not even I'm that lazy.

When you finally do get to enter the shop, you're presented with a choice of three weapons you can buy.

And that's it. Apparently this shop only has three items for sale. No wonder they're closed half the time.

Another nice little item in the game are the treasure chests.

The treasure chests contain mazes, which you have to complete. I thought that was a little strange - usually you get a maze or map to the treasure chest, and then it's just a case of opening it and taking the treasure inside. But not in Kogent Knight! Not even these pose much of a challenge, as they're piss easy.

For the love of God, what is that? Just some advise, if you do play this game despite this review - don't open the first chest. The reward for completing a maze is three health points, and you won't need them. On top of that, every time you complete the first treasure chest, a hobgoblin appears out of thin air and whacks you across the back of the head.

What the fuck!? You'll notice that when you're hit, you flicker white, and as you can clearly see, I'm getting my ass handed to me by a friggin' goblin, who must have been hiding in wait inside the treasure chest. Gee, what a great surprise.

Anyway, if - I mean, when you get through the meadows and jungles and deserts, you'll find yourself in Sinister Valley (oo-ooo-ooohh!) And it's here that we meet an old staple of the genre, the moving platform.

But these are very special moving platforms, because, unlike the platforms in every other game of this type, you need to keep walking to stay on them!

And do you know what happens if you stop walking while they're moving?

You slide right off and down into a fucking pit! And what sucks most of all is that at the bottom of these pits are interdimensional portals that send you to the very beginning of the level again. Which wouldn't be so boring if you had to fight your back to where you fell. But no - you just walk across an empty terrain. In fact, the penultimate level is just that - you walk across a flat area until you get to the princess, unconscious and tied to a chair.

I was going have some screenshots of the final level because it's funny as hell (while rocks fly out of the sky you hold the princess, still tied to the chair, over your head and jump across more moving platforms that you still need to walk on as they move) but I fell into a pit and lost. Yeah, that's right, after wasting my time for twenty minutes, the easiest platformer on the face of God's green earth finally decides to up the difficulty. You have to jump through this final level in thirty seconds, and if you fall into a pit once, forget it, because the game sends you right to the fucking start again, and there's no way you can complete this level in less than twenty-five to thirty seconds!

I can say that I have beaten the game before, and let me tell you, after all the bullshit you go through playing this game, the payoff isn't worth squat. Even though you saved the princess and defeated the monsters, you still get punished for missing the meeting and have to scrub the castle floors.

Read that last paragraph again, and then wonder at how pissed off I was when I saw that little message. I could have lived with all the crappy gameplay, easy monsters and complicated final level if I had just gotten a happy ending. But no.

Do not play Kogent Knight - there are a dozen better platform games out there. This may look pretty, but it's boring as all hell. Do yourself a favour, heed my advice, and go play something like Fancy Pants Adventure, because at least it's fun.