Sunday, January 27, 2008

Omega Warrior

In theory, a side scrolling action game where you run around playing a one man army, hacking mutants apart in a post-apocalyptic world ravaged by nuclear war should be an enjoyable playing experience, if not a brilliant one. I was, perhaps, expecting too much from Omega Warrior, but at least I'm not alone in seeing it for the pile of ass that it is.

A nice little slideshow fills us in on the back story. Radioactive Necro-Mutants (which is a kickass name, regardless of how shit the game is) are building a giant weapon of mass destruction. Unfortunately this is the future, so there aren't any semi-literate Texans with the power to launch a full-scale invasion around. Instead we have the Human Alliance, and to be honest I'd probably sympathise with the doomed spies a little more if it weren't for those Manga sweat tears on their heads. They don't really give off the impression of fear that one is about to be torn apart by mutants, but more "Mom's gonna kill us if we get these suits dirty!"

Anyway, you head off into battle with the entire mutant army, while the rest of the Human Alliance stay at home and play Jenga. Maybe.

I must admit, the artwork used in each level, and the little animations in the background, made a very good first impression on me. But I was annoyed to find that the Omega Warrior moves like he's walking through treacle. Everything is very slow and the response to button commands can lag a little. This can get pretty annoying later on as you try to raise your shield, but your character is too busy swinging his sword around or getting slashed in the face by a mutant. On the bright side, the mutants are quite easy to kill at first. You have two attack buttons, A and S, with D acting as your defence button. But you'll spend most of your time repeatedly tapping S, as the first attack is pretty weak and leaves you open to attack. Stronger mutants come along halfway through the first level. You'll recognise them easily because they'll be the fat ones.

I suppose the extra layer of blubber works as a great shield to your sword. I would love to have been a fly on the wall when the developers discussed this idea.

"Right, so we have regular mutants, and then slightly stronger ones."
"How will we tell the difference?"
"Well, I thought we might make the stronger ones fat."
"Excuse me?"
"You ever try to take down a fat guy? Those bastards are hard!"

I wasn't having much trouble dispensing good human retribution to the evil mutants, but I wasn't having much fun, either. Things quickly got too repetitive: run forward a bit, meet mutants, kill them, run forward a bit more. As long as you're able to run around the mutants and have them all on one side of you, it's very easy to defend yourself. The enemies will usually come to you, meaning you can just stand there, swinging away with your sword and nailing anything that comes past. I was starting to feel very bored indeed when:

The acid rain began. At least, I assume that's what it is. As soon as it hit the ground it just sort of stayed there, keeping that same falling raindrop shape. Acid rain - it comes out of nowhere, and you will get hurt by it. I was no longer bored; I was just pissed off.

Finally, near the end of level one, you meet a new enemy. Yeah, that's right - ugly Goth girls. Ugly Goth girls with kung fu moves that will kick your ass if you don't get your shield up in time. Are they more challenging than the other mutants? Yes, but not by much. And besides, I only faced one of them. then it was back to the fat guys and wimps, and then the level ended with no fanfare.

Out of nowhere, and for no discernible reason other than I'd killed everything, the level was complete. But hey, you gotta dig that hero pose. Heading into level two, you're inexplicably now indoors, where you face:

That's right - more of the same. By this point I was getting pretty good at killing mutants and wasn't having that much trouble. And doesn't the shield look cool in that screenshot? Hold down D and you'll get a full blown forcefield. It no doubt comes in handy when you're showered with the acid rain, which started up again.

OK, this is bullshit - I'm indoors. What's happening here? Did I happen to pass the only hole in the roof just as a rain storm picked up? It's not like they couldn't do something like a cracked pipe or steam shooting out of the ground - you know, something that would have made logical sense inside a building.

After the acid rain, we finally meet a real challenge. Actually, that's a lie - I kicked this rotating saw thing's ass the first time I played. Unfortunately, I couldn't remember exactly how I did it, so I got stuck there for fucking ages, trying to figure out what strategy to use. Should I put up my shield and strike just as it passes? Should I hack away wildly and hope for the best? And how come it can still hit me even when I'm not near it? These questions remain unanswered; I managed to beat it eventually, but if you asked me how I wouldn't be able to tell you.

After that son of a bitch, I figured things couldn't get any worse. Then these assholes in robes showed up with electrified whips, and they beat my ass to oblivion.

And here's the final kicker - you only get one life. If you die, you have to start the level all over again. You have to go through the same bullshit and hope that you'll have enough energy to make it to the end. Well, I would have started again, but quite frankly I couldn't be arsed. I could think of better things to do than play this game, like DIY dental surgery or smashing my face against a brick wall repeatedly. If the jerky animation doesn't piss you off, the molasses slow pace will. I take back all the bad things I said about Achilles two weeks ago. Compared to Omega Warrior, Achilles is fucking Double Dragon. Yeah - Omega Warrior is that bad.

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