Spare Parts Review
Xbox 360 | PS3
Spare Parts Box Art
System: PS3, Xbox 360
Dev: EA Bright Light
Pub: Electronic Arts
Release: January 18, 2011
Players: 1-2
Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p

However, even when you're barking up the right tree, the interaction points are usually so finicky it can be hard to even find them. This can be particularly maddening when your goggles are telling you that what you want to interact with you is right in front of you. As an example, take the boss of the second world, a giant hybrid spider-monkey. The creature's legs are spread out across the corners of a massive cave, and there's a stone dais with arrow-like paths leading up to it underneath the beasts' middle. I won't get into how you beat the level (which is inexplicable, as it ran contrary to the damage you actually do to the boss), because the process is far too complicated and irritating to explain with any brevity. However, even the actions needed leading up to that point are also complicated.

Spare Parts Screenshot

The game gives you a cue that you have to stomp on a stone hand in the back of the dais, though it doesn't explain that doing so knocks a stone forward in the front, which you then need to push back in. Pushing the stone back releases one of the eggs that lay on top of the dais, which for some reason have spikes on them. Now, at this point, it's natural from a design perspective to think you'll need to do something with the eggs. It turns out you have to push them down the outward paths to the edge of the spider-monkey's hands. Finally, you have to knock the creature's hand into the egg so that it crushes it and weakens the cave's foundations.

That may sound easy on paper with all the steps laid out, but it took a great deal more trial and error than was necessary in order to figure it out, particularly the interactions with the eggs. The goggles were instructing me to use the strong arm on the eggs, but first I couldn't find the exact interaction point needed in order to do anything. Then I didn't know whether I needed to hit the spider-monkey's hand or try to drag it, and again had to try every option possible from almost every conceivable angle. Ultimately what was probably meant to be a ten-minute level turned into a 45-minute ordeal, and much of the rest of Spare Parts' design is similar.

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I hate harping on design for a game that could have been good, but if these problems had been dealt with, Spare Parts could have had the potential to be something special. But without some kind of patch or just a better-made sequel (or both), this is hard sell. Only the most patient fans of robot-related platforming need apply, and even then I would still exercise caution.

By Steve Haske
CCC Freelance Writer

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
3.8
Graphics
Graphics aren't anything to write home, though the world is lush and animations and character models are pretty smooth and detailed.
2.2
Control
Sluggish controls do not mix well with platforming. This needed more play-testing.
4.0
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The lively music is surprisingly catchy, and Simon Pegg does a good job as the game's sole voice actor. Sound is otherwise mostly forgettable.
2.0
Play Value
Maddeningly obtuse design more often than not makes Spare Parts an exercise in irritation rather than fun.
2.3
Overall Rating - Poor
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
Review Rating Legend
0.1 - 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 3.5 - 3.9 = Good 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair 4.0 - 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Explore a strange alien world using a variety of robotic abilities.
  • Two-player co-op.
  • Featuring Simon Pegg as the computer AI Con-rad.

  • Screenshots / Images
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