Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Pity the Lost Children

City of Lost Children is done and dusted, never to be returned to again. There were a few things that weren't the game's fault that left be badly disposed to it, and a few things that definitely were. First up, the curse of the dodgy copy struck again. The main game worked fine, but as is so often the case, the dodgy copy had the movies and music struck from it. That's not necessarily a problem with some games, but with this game all of the story is given in those movies, so without them you have no idea what you're supposed to be doing, or when you've succeeded in doing something. This set me off on the back foot to begin with, but the game didn't do much to attempt to turn that around.

The game feels a lot like Alone in the Dark, with a 3D character moving through pre-rendered backgrounds with a variety of interesting camera angles. It uses tank controls, which always feel a bit awkward to begin with, but you quickly get used to them. The graphics are pretty good - there's nothing jaw-droppingly spectacular, but there are some nice areas and animations. There aren't many areas to the game, though - it's pretty short - and it's all a bit dark and dismal (as is the source film). Onto the problems...the inventory management is rubbish. There are numerous objects that you can pick up (if you can see them...another one of the game's problems), and you can store them either in your hand, or in your inventory. Let's say you pick up a key, and you diligently put it into your inventory. You then come across a locked door and decide to use your key. You walk up to the door and press 'action' with the key in your inventory and you're informed that the door is locked. Okay, that happens in lots of games...not too much of an issue. You go into your inventory and move the key into your hand. You then hit 'action' again and you're rewarded with the door being unlocked. Yay! Flushed with success, you hit 'action' again to open the door only to be told that you can't open the door because your hands are full. Yep, you're still holding the key and bashing it into the door like a muppet. So, you go into your inventory and put the key away then you can finally hit 'action' again and open the door. The control system rears its ugly head in similar ways throughout the game. If you run into a solid object then you'll bounce off it with a soundbite and annoyingly long animation that you can't skip before you can move again. If you try to talk to someone or interact with something that you're not quite facing head on, then you get another unskippable soundbite and animation. There's a key to bend down that I think was only used once in the game. Trying to use it at any other time causes...you guessed it...another unskippable soundbite and animation. The puzzles are often frustratingly obtuse, and because objects you can interact with are incredibly hard to see, you'll often find yourself wandering around trying to find something that will help you solve a scene and move on. I don't know if perhaps the movies gave you hints as to what to do, as it was pretty hard to work out without them. So all in all, a bit of a disappointment. Still, at least it was short. Onwards!

Next up on the randometer is...EF 2000...ugh. A flight sim that I remember well from magazines and cover disks back in the day. As far as I recall, it got pretty good reviews - flight sims just aren't my thing. Ah well, I'll give it a go. First up, I'm going to switch back to X-Com and try and get through Interceptor. I haven't played it at all yet, so looking forward to seeing what it has to offer.

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