|System: X360||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Ubisoft Annecy||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ubisoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Feb. 12, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-10 (Online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
To make matters worse, the controls are terrible! They've tried to implement a system similar to that employed in Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, but it is decidedly less precise. Nowhere is this more apparent than the dreadful rooftop platforming segment in chapter three. In this mercifully short stage, you'll constantly fall to your death and run into obstacles that a four year-old could easily negotiate. The frustration is compounded by the fact that you will be chasing a ghoul. As such, you will be timed, and every time you fall or take a bit too long you will have to wait for a loading screen. Other than the cruel jumping phases, the weak combat system gets dull by the end of the opening tutorial chapter. You will have to constantly pull on the RT button to perform attacks ameliorated only by held power strikes, simple kicks, tiny bursts of adrenaline, and ridiculous sneak attacks.
The graphics are tolerable but dated. The constant frame rate issues and animation glitches are unacceptable, however. One glitch-filled moment in particular was very funny. After killing one of the first mini-bosses with a ballista, a guard could be seen jumping up and down like a little school girl under the massive arm of the dead Cyclops. It had me rolling with delight as I covered my eyes in embarrassment. This was the first major glitch, but certainly not the last I experienced. Outside of the stilted and stuttering visuals, the first person perspective is interesting though imperfect. It is very similar to Oblivion expect for the fact that your weaponry inevitably blocks your field of vision. This doesn't really affect combat as you're just going to button mash anyway, but it does become quite disconcerting while navigating through the multitude of halls and corridors.
The voiceover work is very amateurish. It's not so bad that you can't get into the story, but it is bad enough that you can't help but giggle every now and then. The voice that most clearly stands out is that of your buxom spirit guide Xana. She's constantly making comments in a tone of voice most readily associated with 1-900 numbers. Moreover, the delivery of the dialogue by all characters is reminiscent of that of a Lorenzo Lamas film.
Surprisingly, there is a decent multiplayer offering. There are a number of kids playing and having a good time, but it is safe to say that the first person run-around is not even remotely as engaging as other online multiplayer games out there. In the multiplayer modes you will also be able to choose from the same four characters as in the campaign with the exception of the assassin which is replaced by the priestess. I guess the developers realized that human players just simply wouldn't hold still in an arena with their backs to the deadly shadows. The priestess is akin to a cleric. She has a retinue of healing and life-sapping abilities that makes her a decent support character in team battles.
The various classes have their own multiplayer skill chain. Before entering a battle, you will allocate skill points in order to have access to them. This allows you to poison arrows, go berserk, cast fireballs or even smite your foes depending on which class you select. There are five different modes to choose from, but one of them is a training mode so it doesn't really count. Blitz is a team game that has you try to control the enemies' base. There is no respawn feature, so eliminating all of your foes is equally as effective. Crusade is a unique mode that pits two teams against each other in order to capture the enemies' stronghold. Going after various control points on the map will reduce the amount the enemy can respawn until victory is achieved. After winning one map, you will be transported to a new map with very different characteristics. Finally, the last two modes of play are the requisite Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch. Running around in these multiplayer maps is entertaining mostly because of the childish chatter that goes on over the headsets.
When it's all said and done, this not a good game. It's not an outright right failure either, but with limited gaming funds and time I suggest giving this title a wide berth. It feels as if the game is caught between two genres, and neither has been executed very well. It's not straight action/adventure like God of War, as the combat is so pedestrian and repetitive, and there aren't even any puzzles to break up the monotony. It also isn't an RPG because there is no character customization or expansive world. Unfortunately, this game suffers from a major identity crisis that has it wallowing in the doldrums of mediocrity.
CCC Lead Contributor / News Director