Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A tale of two demos

The other week, two distinctly different demos appeared on XBox Live Marketplace. Your intrepid reporter takes it upon himself to play pretty much every demo that goes up, and so it came to pass that I found myself going through Bodycount, and El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron. I thought it would be quite interesting to do a compare and contrast, as these are two games that could be said to encapsulate two ends of the gaming spectrum. Some may say the good and the bad, even.

First off, then, I tried Bodycount. This is the new FPS from Codemasters that they seem really proud of. For the life of me I don't know why, because it is the new FPS from Codemasters that you will have seen enough of within 10 minutes of playing it. Everything that you are already completely and utterly sick of the sight of in FPS games raises its ugly head in this one. You want annoying swarms of enemies? Check. Strange little quirks of scenery that stop you moving? Check. Enemies you don't get to see until the bastards shoot you? Check, check, and check. Grenades, OH MY GOD SO MANY SODDING GRENADES? Check, and for the love of God please stop with them now...

Codemasters made a big deal out of the bonus system in this game, where you get to score points based on different methods of killing people. Sounds pretty good. Unfortunately, it also sound pretty much like Bulletstorm. And, Bulletstorm got to market a couple of months back now.

Such a pity, Codies. Your game is yet another in the CONSTANT AND NEVER ENDING STREAM of generic and simply DULL FPS games, and if anyone manages to complete your demo then they are a better and more patient man than I am.

Non-plussed as I now was, I was ready to rip El Shagrag a new one. What the hell kind of a pretentious mess was I about to experience?

A quite incredible one, as it happens.

Whereas Bodycount has a name that quite literally rolls off the tongue and is therefore impossible to forget, El Shaddai comes from the school of "Sounds vaguely mystical? PUT IT IN!" games naming. I mean, just say it to yourself - "Ascension of the Metatron" - and try not to giggle. How many people can even tell you what the Metatron is?

And the setting is ... ridiculous. Based on the Jewish religious tome, the Book of Enoch, describing some crap that I don't care to work out. (Seriously, Wikipedia exists purely for this reason, go look it up yourselves.) From what I could tell, you are some human going into heaven, fighting the fallen angels along the way. You do this by hitting them with your bare fists, and also by stealing their weapons from them and turning them against their former owners.

The important thing about Shabba is that it looks like THIS :

Simply stunning

Or, to put that into words, like nothing else you have ever played before. I mean, look at that. It has PINK in it! It plays a little bit like Devil May Cry and other such combat-driven games, but is quite simplified. Combat seems to be more about timing and moving than remembering complex sequences of button combinations. Further, at times it is a platformer, reminiscent of the early Crash Bandicoot titles. (You know, back when they were quite good?) And the last piece in the puzzle is the way it isn't scared to just let you work out what the hell is happening for yourself. There isn't even a hint of exposition in the demo.

So, on the one hand, we have Bodycount. A standard and generic FPS with ... who CARES how many features and modes and gimmicks? And on the other, we have something completely unlike anything else out there. One bored me to tears within 2 minutes, and the other had me enthralled before it confused me. Most importantly, one left me feeling quite angry, whereas the other one left me wanting more.

Bodycount is a cheeseburger. Don't fall for the marketing that makes it look like prime loin. El Shaddai is lobster, but won't even BE marketed, and will be dismissed by most as a single prawn. Ignore Bodycount, go out of your way to play El Shaddai. That is my advice.

What a shame that Bodycount will outsell El Shaddia by a ratio of at least 50 to 1. I tell you now; 10 years from now, when every single game is identikit bollocks for 12 year olds who think swearing makes them an adult, when all we can do is shoot yet more gruff soldiers who literally make it rain grenades on you, taking cover behind destructible terrain, and when even loading screens come on middleware that gets its own pre-game credit, DON'T SAY I DIDN'T FUCKING WARN YOU!

You can buy El Shaddai BY CLICKING THIS, and you probably should. I refuse to link to Bodycount for you.

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