Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Civil War 360

Writing about a game that came out well over a year ago might be a kin to writing about my day at work. But alas, here I am and there's no place I'd rather be right now.

Word on the street is that there was a game put out with Civil and War in the title for the Xbox 360. After purchasing many game guides, back issues of EGM and asking around (what we did way back in the '06) I found the Activision Value game "The History Channel Civil War A Nation Divided". Once found this old Virginian's pulse started uh racin'. So many questions to be answered, so much familiar terrain to be discovered in potential HD graphical glory. Would I find a game wrapped in an underdog's developer Stars and Bars or would it be smothered in Union hired gun bunting of industrialization? Well. Sort of more the first then the second. I donno.

Cauldron out of the Czech Republic developed this game and Activision Value Publishing, well, published it. I'm kind of strangely satisfied with both parts of that previous statement. Cauldron isn't exactly one of the big dogs and while Activision is, in it's own right, maybe THE big dog having a smaller division of it pushing this game makes me happy because I can relate to that a bit with what I do at work. Wow. I tied something to that there first sentence.

About the game: Let's jump in.

STORY: 3
It is the Civil War and the History Channel name and between battle summaries are economically well done. This alone warrants a average score from me. Just don't look past that. No story in game except what my imagination brings to it. I blame that pesky habit on the Muppet Babies because, I, to a fault, bring that to everything in my life.

IN GAME DESIGN: 4
Less is more in my book. Effectively done with health, objective radar and ammo shown at all times. I can still tolerate the straight up first person view with hands and weapon clearly shown. Call of Duty type stuff, which must have been what Activision brought to the table. The classic stars as life meter is in full effect here. It gives a hardened video game vet warm fuzzies.

IN GAME ARTWORK: 3
Seeing east coast environments is going to win points with me everytime... to the point where it's like being blinded by love. That said... Strange lighting in the little log huts. Meaning no light source -soldiers look properly malnurished, not a whole lot of variance between all characters but this is war so I get the reason. Seems to only be a few poses for them as well... soldier sitting, standing, guarding (funny), walking. I like the blood on the wrist and still enjoy the re-loading animations. My Southern soldier appears to be properly wearing rags but rest of army isn't. Northern soldiers in nice uniforms. The blinding flash and smoke from a rifle is extremely satisfying, especially at close range with the enemy. I've said a lot of nice things here and I can't overstate the thrill of seeing an area where I grew up in a game and it was well done, but overall, the structures in the game hold this back. Carts, fences, character repetitiveness, tents, odd log 'huts' hold it back.

AUDIO: 4
Plenty of good environmental sounds, but kind or like older medal of honor games if you turn your head it's like the sound disappears. Sometimes the sound of 1,000 soldiers can be heard and if your wearing headphones sounds chilling... but so far i have yet to see those screaming soldiers it is like I'm fighting a guerrilla war a handful of yanks at a time not part of a huge army. Your soldier makes a Simpsons sound when he gets shot. Cannon sounds and rifle effects are very well done. Time was spent with this aspect and that gets a good mark from me. Sounds and voices are repetitive, but the audio levels are done right. Far is far away and close is loud.

GAMEPLAY: 2
Regardless of what could be perceived as slow loading weapons and the lack of any effective cover (you'll get hit regardless of what you are behind) the game play is too fluid and I've got a bad case of super soldier syndrome. Nothing slows you down except injury. You can take quite a bit of damage before you go down. It's irritating when you see a place you want to go, not obstructed, but run into an invisible wall. I get linear, single player game play, but make it rational, or give me a map to follow. In the first Call of Duty or Metal of Honor games, intentional or not, I felt that it added to the confusion, or fog of war, now i just think it's laziness on the developers part, especially now after GTA IV. A.I. really acts rediculous when there is no guns a'blazin', to the point where Berserk on the Atari 2600 comes to mind, graphics good, just limited animations. if the guns are going off then things are a bit different. Finishing a battle sort of feels like a cross country run, there were several moments in the game where i really got excited about sneaking around the enemies camp so it felt real enough for that. The environment aided in this along with the historical context but it seemed like most of the game was like this and, within the context of the Civil War, game play could have been sooooo much more.

LONGEVITY: 1
Not much other then me pulling it out to show my brother when he comes to visit.

X FACTOR: 3
I liked it, I enjoyed it.

PACKAGE DESIGN: 2
Standard stuff here. I don't see why 'A Nation Divided' was added. Standard stuff gets below average.

PACKAGE ARTWORK: 3
Nice little painting. Having the Stars and Bars on there alone gets points, but the rebel getting blow away at point blank range with a cannon? wow. um. That'll haunt your dreams.

I'd like to add, in summary, that I am still having a good time with this game. I'm probably the only person that played through the six Southern battles before I started the Northern ones. I would recommend not doing that because it is clear the developers wanted the gamer to play the North first, meaning he first couple are well done, more soldiers and direct contact. However, that all came crashing down when you start the Gettysburg battle as a Northern sniper(!?)... come on. Find the game and play it for the environment alone. Some landmarks from famous photos are there and a couple times I really got into the historical context. Find it used and let your imagination relax and settle in.

OVERALL: 2.67

That is an average.

1 comment:

Cheri said...

Keep up the good work.