Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Stone Age Conqueror


Because zombies and stickmen sniper simulators were already a dime a dozen, somebody had to come along with a different angle on our favourite Flash titles and it seems Stone Age Games are the first ones to take a crack at it. It's a shame, then, that their games so far have largely sucked giant pulsating donkey balls, Stone Age Conqueror being no different.

You take on the role of a Stone Age general who, at the beginning of the game, finds himself behind enemy lines and far from his army. So it's up to you to kill anyone who gets in your way and make it back to your soldiers so you can mount your own attack. First of all, it looks great, with simple stylised animation - there's no jerky or clunky animation, and the game even begins with a really nice animated intro. But as far as gameplay is concerned, I have my issues. The first one being:

OK, so why is the attack key the left mouse button? At first I thought it must be because you have to line your weapon up to each target, but that isn't the case. For one thing, your weapon is a big bone club - hardly the sort of thing you need to worry about aiming. Then, of course, there's the fact that you can't aim - you just swing right in front of you. So could someone at Stone Age Games please explain to me what's up?

You have two separate buttons to pause and unpause the game, yet you can't programme, say, the Space key to swing the weapon? Someone at Stone Age Games has stocks in wrist guards and wants to make sure we all buy one before we get carpal tunnel syndrome from playing their stupid game.

Anyway, you run back and forth across an enclosed area, whacking giant troll-like cave men with your bone (stop sniggering.) There are literally dozens of these bastards, and naturally their weapons have a much longer range than yours. Add to that the small problem of your character pausing between strikes and you're pretty much asking to get killed. Fortunately, regular jumping and running should keep you alive long enough to finish the level.

Then, in level 2, we hit a little snag. Actually, it's a really big friggin' snag that will kill you in thirty seconds if you don't run very far away. This monster is completely invincible, and as well as him you have thirty-five of the regular enemies to defeat.

I mean, come on! He's got a range of about twenty feet! I kept running up to this guy, swinging and doing no damage, taking a pounding, and eventually died an agonising death. I had no idea how to beat him, so I had to check out some hints and walkthroughs to figure out what the hell I should do.

And then I found the answer - nothing. I'm not supposed to attack him in any way, shape or form. I'm supposed to let him pound away on the ground while I kill the other warriors. Once I've done that, he'll die.


Anyway, in the third level you've made it back to your soldiers, and this is where a formerly difficult game becomes piss easy. Once you've built up a few experience points, you can call on up to ten soldiers to help you defeat your enemies, meaning you can hang back, occasionally whack a bad guy, and let your army do all the work. This comes in handy when you come across 300 exhausted, unarmed enemy warriors and slaughter them mercilessly.

Lest we forget, this is our hero.

Anyway, as the army moves on towards the enemy encampment, Stone Age Games strike a blow for creationists everywhere when they announce that the guardian of the settlement is a dinosaur!

Look at that thing - it looks like Godzilla's retarded brother Frank Zilla. The only way to defeat it is to keep throwing soldiers at it until they kill it. Considering how many soldiers that takes, it's pretty obvious that your character commands a lot of loyalty.

Then again, they did just watch him butcher three hundred people.

And then we enter something called Nightmare Mode, where all the enemies are those big monsters (not invincible now, it seems) and your soldiers are now coloured red and only interested in fighting the last guardian. I don't have any pictures of this guardian because my army killed him off screen.

That did not stop me from taking all the credit.

Stone Age Conqueror is that rare game - one that manages to be impossibly difficult and ridiculously easy at the same time. Once you know how to kill the second level boss victory is a simple matter of calling on as many soldiers as possible to help you win. And I'm still at a total loss as to why I have to use the left mouse button to attack. Surely tapping it five hundred times in quick succession can't be doing it any good!

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