Friday, 14 December 2012

Xbox Live Indie Weekly Roundup (Dec 5th - Dec 11th)

Wow, I am just two weeks into my proposed weekly review of the Xbox Live Indie Channel and already I feel as though a small part of me has died inside. This week follows in the footsteps of a number of preceding weeks I can only guess at, where the entertainment value of the games on offer is lower than that of watching paint dry. Not even a colourful, vibrant type of paint, but just regular dull magnolia. It is pretty soul destroying to have to wade through this shit every week in the vague hope of finding something even mildly enjoyable. This is also highlighted by the fact that there have been some fantastic PC indie games for released over the last week, all of which put this Xbox indie selection to shame. 

This week:
  • 2D Voxel Madness
  • 60 Seconds To Park
  • Dream Divers 2
  • Project Gert Recon
  • Retro Pixel Racers
  • TrickyTreat
  • Vampire Slayer FPS

2D Voxel Madness is the follow up to the rather fun VolChaos, a simple run and jump platform game that had you collecting gems against the clock, and ever rising lava. Unfortunately the developers have jumped on the mining genre bandwagon and thus produced yet another boring 'hit the blocks and collect treasures in open world' game. The ingredients of a good game are all there with these types of game, 2D platforming, digging for treasures and secrets, and jumping on bad guys. Yet the end result is incredibly tedious and pointless. With dull level design, and no objectives to speak of 2D Voxel Madness is another mining game to ignore while you enjoy a proper platform loot adventure like Spelunky.

60 Seconds To Park is an absolutely criminal effort which should never have seen the light of day. In the 'game' (I use the term loosely), you have 60 seconds to.. guess what? Park your car. Yep, that is it. You drive through a boring car park to locate the sole empty space, which you must park in to move to the next, slightly larger car park, ad infinitum. The game doesn't even require you to park properly, removing any skill whatsoever. You are not penalised for smashing into cars or walls, and you barely even touch the empty space before the game stops and you are given the victory screen. If they had made it about parking as accurately as possible, with points for style, speed and care, it would have made more sense. You may get 60 seconds to park, but it will take you less time than that to realise this game has no redeeming features whatsoever.

Dream Divers is, yawn, another one of those animé babe games with scantily clad pixie faced cartoon women for lonely acne ridden boys to abuse themselves to. As is the standard with these kinds of games the gameplay takes a back-seat to lame images of bikini clad girls with enormous assets. In this game you begin diving into the sea where you must navigate the underwater caverns to find stars. Find them all to finish the stage and unlock more babes. Special mention goes to one of the girls whose nipples are in such an odd place that she was clearly designed by someone who has never even seen a real pair of breasts. The game is ridiculously easy due to the fact that lines of bubbles lead you to each star, so there is no exploration here at all. Should you miss just a few bubbles your diver slows to a crawl before drowning. It's a waste of time so let's quickly move on.

Project Gert Recon is a 2D platformer also selling itself on the animé babe ticket. It's not as obvious as Dream Divers or last week's Aah, Halloween Pie, with just a lead character whose breasts bounce as she moves. The graphics and sound are acceptable, if a little bland, but the gameplay itself is completely soulless, jumping is floaty and strange, and the sword based hack & slash combat is both unsatisfying and inaccurate. There are terminals that can be used in-game that take you to a single screen puzzle, but these are both dull and unchallenging. The voice acting and hand painted images show that some effort has gone into this title, but it's a shame that the developers forgot to include any worthwhile gameplay.

Retro Pixel Racers is an absolutely pathetic effort that lacks even the most rudimentary of racing game requirements. The badly designed, completely curve free tracks are a miserable sight and the car handling is non-existent. Your car moves like a snail on vallium and the enemies just drive a set route with no errors, even hitting into them makes no difference to their speed or angle. The sounds are overly loud and irritating and you will be bored before you have even finished the first race. One of the worst driving games I have experienced. When you can't even match (let alone improve upon) Atari's 1986 game Super Sprint (a game this crap clearly tries to emulate) then it is time to call it quits. Let's hope the developer does just that and doesn't waste our time with garbage like this again.

TrickyTreat. This is a joke right... RIGHT?? Well, if it is I am not laughing. This actually manages to top last week's Aah, Halloween Pie in the shit stakes, unbelievable but true. TrickyTreat starts with some of the most basic and sparse presentation I've ever seen, literally a black screen with some text, before dumping you straight into the game. You assume control of a completely rigid, grinning 3D man who is clearly suffering from the advanced stages of Rigamortis. You begin falling through the sky in one of the worst 3D city landscapes I have ever seen, even worse than Superman 64 on the Nintendo 64. You must then navigate the man around the game world collecting candies, which are just huge featureless shapes. It is completely impossible to control, I am not kidding, you will be floating around, bouncing off every surface imaginable, spinning this way and that, completely unable to get even a vague sense of direction. You will spend most of the time stuck to a floor or wall, or spinning wildly out of control. The left stick supposedly moves the character and the right stick, the camera, with the shoulder buttons rotating you. In reality though the controls are irrelevant, you may as well use a pine cone, a hairbrush, or a bar of soap, all of which will give you about as much control over proceedings as the Xbox controller. It's a truly miserable experience that makes you seasick and praying for a quick death. The techno music tracks that play in the game also mix together in the most heinous fashion possible, like a DJ having a seizure behind the decks. The game is an assault on all of your senses and I fear playing it will seriously damage your mental health, and as such should be avoided at all costs.

Vampire Slayer FPS is a very dull first person shooter that pits snaggle-toothed coffin dwellers against those who wish to destroy them. The graphics are absolutely terrible, resembling an early mod for Quake put together by someone with no experience of game design. The vampires can lunge forward and claw, whereas the slayers are armed with shotguns, crosses, and stakes. Neither is very much fun to play, and shuffling through the grim and lifeless levels grows old after a few minutes. Why anyone would chose this over Avatar Laser Wars, or the excellent Shark Attack Deathmatch, is beyond me.

Well that's a wrap. Not a single Xbox indie title worth playing, I can only hope that through my pain and suffering I was able to entertain you, however briefly, in my reported findings. Fingers crossed that there will be a vast improvement in next week's selection. Hell, there might even be a decent xmas game this year!