XBOX REVIEW: RAZE'S HELL

Here's one for all the little monsters out there.

Raze's Hell puts you in the role of a monster looking for some respect. This is a quirky, third-person shooter loaded with cute creatures, violence and humor. It's a very challenging game that is not recommended for the casual gamer - unless you want a real bad beating. Don't knock it, it's good for you.

With unique characters, interesting gameplay and both co-op and online modes, Raze's Hell manages to break through the "generic" border associated with most budget games. Although you'll notice that the graphics are a little weak, with bland textures, empty voids and an unsteady framerate, just about everything else is on par with full-priced blockbusters. The difficulty is somewhat unbalanced and even at the easiest settings you may find yourself overwhelmed and frustrated.

Raze is an ugly monster (beauty is in the eye of the beholder) and as such he dwells with other unholy-looking creatures. In an interesting role reversal, the Kewletts are darling looking little cuties that are actually draconian, racist killers. They want to destroy all of the harmless monsters. Raze manages to escape from his village which is under attack and vows to seek revenge on the queen Kewlett by fighting his way to Kewtopia.

While hiding in a cave, Raze comes across an enchanted stone that imbues him with great powers. By harnessing nature, Raze is able to fashion weapons that resemble machine guns, shotguns, sniper rifles and rockets as well as few nifty specialty weapons. Ammo isn't found in the traditional method, but Raze will knock together different colored pods that correspond to specific weapons and will fill them with ammo.

Melee attacks are also a part of Raze's arsenal. He'll need them later when runs short of pods to replenish his weapons. Taking on the Kewletts at close range is a dangerous proposition since they are very aggressive and difficult to kill. They can withstand many shots and tend to attack in packs. On the plus side you can inhale giblets from the dead ones and recharge your health. You can also use a one-hit-kill stealth move by sneaking up behind one. It's slow going to be sure but you don't really want to start a full-blown war because more often than not you'll end up the loser.

Most times it's best to use ranged weapons such as the sniper rifle or rockets to assault the Kewletts. If you spot a guard or two it's best not to let them see you for fear of alerting the others. That's not to say the game is based on stealth, there is a lot of action and exploring but for those times that you come across a concentration of the enemy it's best to play it cautiously.

To facilitate faster travelling, Raze can turn into a ball and roll his ass around at a good clip. He's also more protected in this form and can roll over his enemies leaving them as a squished, bloody mess. There is something quite addicting about turning these cute varmints into gory mincemeat. They can be dismembered, flattened and blown apart into bloody chunks. Just before they die they'll either let out a high-pitched squeal or some wise-ass, one-liner.

A lock-on system is better than nothing but it doesn't always highlight the most serious threat at the moment. The reticule for the sniper rifle is too touchy as it floats around the screen like Tinkerbell on crystal meth.

A friend can enter into the game with you at any time. This co-op mode is fun but it's not any easier. The enemy is still formidable but you'll also have to deal with friendly fire which can take you out just as quickly. Online modes include Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, King of the Hill, Team King of the Hill and Soccer. If that's not enough for you there are several mini-games that you can unlock including a golf game that is almost as much fun as one of the main modes.

There's a chance that Raze's Hell won't get the promotion that it deserves because it's a budget title and as a result may be overlooked by the very gamers that would enjoy it most. Seek this one out even if it's just for a rental and tell your friends about it - or make new ones online.

Preview by Vaughn

Previews in the videogame business are generally used to showcase upcoming titles and get the reader hyped about playing it. On occasion, previews can also warn you of impending stool samples burned onto metallic storage devices and packaged into fancy DVD jewel cases made to look shiny and pretty so that you're captivated by the artwork on the front and are helpless to stop your hand from reaching into your wallet and purchasing said disaster. Well, I could be wrong, but I think this might be one of those times folks.

The concept behind Artech's Raze's Hell is simple enough: kill all the cute adorable creatures which I suppose is some suit's idea of "cathartic retribution" for gamers tired of cute, adorable videogame characters. But it's not going to fly. Gamers tired of cute adorable creatures simply have moved on to games like Mortal Kombat Deception, Halo 2, The Punisher etc. These aren't a demonstrative crowd we're talking about. They simply just put their money elsewhere and buy games that don't insult their intelligence. Filling a game with cute creatures to destroy made for gamers who hate games with cute creatures, still happens to be a product filled with cute creatures and that certainly isn't going unrecognized.

From the screens available, Raze's Hell doesn't look like it's taking advantage of the visual strengths of the Xbox and one might wonder if the concept is even going to fly on a system many consider to be popular with the 17 - 24 age group. This concept would work better on a handheld, even the PSP, rather than a console in my opinion.

Of course, we'll reserve final judgement for the finished product and trust me when I say, I've been completely wrong before.

 

Press:

“Anyone who has been driven crazy by the cloying sweetness surrounding some of today’s popular characters will appreciate the ultimate goal of this hilariously gruesome game,” said Ken Gold, vice president of Marketing for Majesco. “Raze’s Hell is a creatively executed integration of humor and action that should satisfy those looking for something different in a video game.”

Under the leadership of their twisted Princess, the Kewletts are trying to impose their disturbingly distorted view of utopia upon the masses. Raze goes to war against the Kewletts, gaining the respect and assistance of some of the other inhabitants of the planet. As he grows in power, Raze works his way closer to the capital of Kewtopia to uncover the truth behind the Kewlett takeover.

Announced features of Raze’s Hell include:

  • 20 massive mission-based levels set in surreal alien landscapes;
  • Full Xbox Live support through a variety of gameplay modes;
  • Split-screen cooperative action;
  • Intense large-scale battles, intelligent AI that takes cover, sounds alarms and fights back;
  • Over 10 devastating organic weapons that mirror traditional military weapons plus rolling, stealth and melee attacks;
  • Over 20 fiendishly cute enemy types armed with deadly jack-in-the-boxes, lollipop axes and even bunny rocket launchers;
  • Riotously grisly deaths and devilishly fun mini-games;
  • Dolby Digital 5.1 sound support.
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System: XBOX
Dev: Artech Studio
Pub: Majesco
Released: April 2005
Players: 1 - Multi Online
Review by Daemia
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
3.5
GRAPHICS
3.5
CONTROL
4.0
MUSIC/FX
3.0
VALUE
3.5