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George Box

The other day I was at a friend's house, and he mentioned in passing that he'd just beat HALO. I looked down at my feet, and sure enough, laying there on the ground like a God damned piece of furniture was an XBox. I felt like screaming.

The game was then pitched to me as "okay". "Fine", I thought. "Woohoo. The XBox has an okay 'killer app'. I'll give it a chance. I'm sure there's something to this." So I sat down, started the thing up, hoisted the controller onto my lap, waited a God damned hour for the level to load, and got to playing.

The controls, while hindered by the worst controller of this century, are actually rather decent. For once in a console FPS I have a different stick under a different hand for movement than I have for aiming. This is a step in the right direction. The graphics, well... there are lots of polygons. There's no denying the massive quantity of polygons that went into the making of this game. If someone were offering an award for "most polygons" tomorrow, I'm sure this game would win. Unfortunately, it would also win the "most insipid graphics design" award. That is, of course, until Azurik: Rise of Gargargar or whatever comes out. You know, that Soul Reaver clone with the innovative idea of having switches and keys instead of abilities. And having diverse, original environments of fire, ice, earth, air, gar, gar, gar. But I digress.

Now I'd read the Penny Arcade strip. I'd heard that the levels were poorly designed. But I chalked it up to exaggeration, especially given how prone Tycho is to hyperbole. I figured they'd be pretty unimaginative, maybe. Possibly even downright dull. As it turns out, though, the levels could have, and I swear to God this is no exaggeration, been done better by a random level generator. They are honestly the most boring levels in any game, ever. EVER. You will get lost not because the levels are fiendishly-designed puzzles, but because they have all the variety and imagination of that maze screensaver that comes with MICROS~1 Windows (and it would not at all be going too far to call HALO the screensaver's spiritual successor).

Now there are worse games out there. There are games with worse control schemes (fucking Goldeneye and Perfect fucking Dark come to fucking mind), and there are games with fewer polygons (well, there's a whole bunch). There are even games with less imaginative graphics (like Azurik: Rise of My Lunch). But I guarantee that you will not find more offensively banal level design anywhere on the face of the Earth. Just... stay the hell away from this one. Oh, God...

Proud recipient of the Drew Cosner Smartass Award
The Chu Chu Rocket images on this site were borrowed shamelessly from the GIA.

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