Thursday, 23 May 2013

Nightmare Controls

Nightmare Creatures is finally done. I feel too tired to say much about it. I played it on easy, and I don't think I could have done it on anything more; it was certainly a tricky old game. It uses 'tank' controls like the old Resident Evil games, which just felt completely wrong in a faster game like this. I got used to it in the end, but I had to switch to keyboard, it just felt horrible on a gamepad. My guess is that it was made for the original PlayStation controller, before it had analog sticks, so was meant to be controlled using the dpad. It would have been a lot more fun to play using a more modern control method using one stick for free movement and one for camera control. Anyway, as I say, the good old keyboard came to the rescue, even though it did give me horrible hand cramp! Back to the game itself. It's very much of its time, with those blocky 3D graphics and that control style, and it's very much played for quick frights, with monsters jumping out of doorways or bursting through fences when you walk past. The control system rears its ugly head again here, where a monster might jump out at you, but your character turns too slowly to face the monster in order to attack it. It's also annoying that if you die and have to replay a section, then there's no way of triggering the monster to jump out early - even though you know it's there, you still have to walk into its trap and get wailed on. I have to admit that some of the shocks do genuinely make you jump, though. Having a monster jump out at you may be a tired old gimmick, but it's an effective one, and some of the monster designs are quite freaky. Most of the time, the game design is pretty fun, though, the levels are a decent mix of open enough to run around in, but still clear enough to funnel you in the right direction. I think I only got genuinely lost once. Oh, that reminds me of one horrible part of the game design, though, the adrenaline meter. Along with the usual life, etc., you also have adrenaline. The adrenaline meter gradually ticks down all the time and is only filled up when you kill a monster. This is fine normally, as there are enough monsters thrown at you to keep it happily topped up, but if you get lost then you're in trouble. As soon as the meter runs out, you die (well, technically it then drains your life, but it drains it so quickly that you might as well just die instantly). Monsters don't respawn, so I died a couple of times on that one level just wandering around trying to find the exit because there were no monsters left and my adrenaline kept running out. It certainly kept the pace of the game up, but it would have been a bit more fun without it (and I think you could turn it off on the console versions). The other prize for most annoying gameplay element has to go to the jumping. Yes, it's the good old "early 3D game jumping" fiasco. There are a few sections where you have to leap across planks or broken bridges, and boy did I die on them a large number of times. Half the time when you try to jump you'll hit an invisible ceiling above your head and fall way short of your goal, and the other half of the time you'll leap right over it and into the shallow waters of instadeath on the other side. Fun. Other things...bosses were odd. Usually in games you'll have a level that leads up to a boss, and you'll know the boss is coming. In this game, you'll finish a normal level, then suddenly the next level that loads will be a boss encounter that you're totally unprepared for. The bosses are also generally immune to any of your special items, and all require a certain method (usually involving the scenery) to kill. So all of the items like explosives and guns that I'd saved up were completely useless. And the final boss guy could only be hit using combo moves (which I'd pretty much avoided because they were so hard to pull off using the keyboard). Luckily, the forward+attack decapitate move counted as a combo, so I just spammed that. The PC version also seemed to be lacking in a few places - the text snippets between levels were almost non-existent, whereas you had a good paragraph or two on the console versions, and the final boss didn't have an energy bar on the PC version, so you never know how close you are to killing him. They did make a couple of sequels to the game, but I don't have them and I have no intention of getting them. Onwards!

The next game up on the randometer is...The Adventures of Tintin: Prisoners of the Sun! Hmmm...much as I love Tintin, I think I played this on the SNES back in the day, and it wasn't much fun. Ah well, I'll give it a go.

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