Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Veks and Silence Review


Me want to kill more zombies!!! Part 2 of our "violent" series, and staying with the zombie theme, is Veks and Silence (cool website). Armed with a token and four high powered guns, I sat down for a couple consecutive nights of play. You aint gettin' my brains, bitches.

The first thing that struck me here is "wow, visuals." I am utterly impressed by the sheer amount of 2D art and 3D graphics stuffed in to this game. You can feel the man hours piling up faster than the bodies, and there's a massive amount of killing going on. There are cut scenes with animations/storyboards between every level, tons of 3D graphics, animations, and background art - it's worth noting that you're getting a ton of content and higher-end graphics for your measly 400MP (hence the three emblems).

Now that said, here are some other words that describe the visuals. Mayhem, brain explosion, bloodfest, radioactive flying sharks (yup). For those of you who like the wacky insane asylum stuff, prepared to be whopped upside the head with a shoe full of crazy-sauce. There is so much happening on screen at once that I have to admit that I was a bit distracted and overloaded. There's a lot of colors and contrast, screenshaking, explosions, lasers, dialogue appearing on screen, and camera shifting going on. Again it's impressive that so much was put into this, I am just not sure if everyone will be able to "hang."

In many instances, like when the camera shifts from normal sidescroller view to a 30 degree front-to-back angle, that I said to myself "wow that's pretty cool." From what I gather, this game was built on the Mad Game Engine, which probably has something to do with the presentation - but I couldn't find any info on it, it's looks to be custom. And other times, like when amid an explosion and a camera shift and when my player is screaming pointless babble, I said to myself "I am too old for this." (I am not that old) My point is, it's all quite cool, but arguably overboard.

This theme sort of continues in to the gameplay. It's packed full of awesome features and some interesting design decisions. You have four very different guns (assigned to D-pad) which all have their advantages and disadvantages, along with bombs which can be thrown a varied distance, and a double jump feature and a reverse-shoot feature. There's also a sight-lock for the sniper rifle, multi-directional shooting, crouching, melee attack, and a "rage" power up using right-trigger. It's packed full of rad.

You have many different types of enemies - from several zombies, to blob-heads, robots, laser cannons, the aforementioned radioactive sharks, and huge megaboss battles. Each level is themed differently, creating the need for lots of different set pieces. Again, kudos - all of this content = work and as players we gobble it up faster than a fat kid gobbles up cake. All the while the developer manages to work in a light rescue story, and carry a wacky sort of "Tarantino on crack" feel.

So what's the problem? Well for some there may not be one. Overall I found this to be an impressive run-and-gun blitz with 8+ hours of gameplay. But it's analogy time. Have you ever started making an omelet...and you pick out some ingredients...and then you keep adding more because they all sound good...and then suddenly the omelet breaks open, burns a little and you sort of wasted all of those ingredients because you can't really taste all of them anyway?

(excuse me I have gone to make an omelet)

Damn it! I can't taste the tomatoes because I added too much bacon!! Comprende?

There's simply so much going on, it can feel crowded, overwhelming and for some maybe even headache-inducing. The gameplay can actually get lost in all of the fuss. For example, I forgot that I could throw bombs until I realized I needed them to beat a certain boss (unfortunately I believe this boss also has a stalemate situation). I couldn't decide if I was better off trying to use the slow-but-target-locking sniper rifle or spread shotgun on the turrets which could hit me from off screen (holy crap they are annoying). The visuals are impressive but so content-heavy that I actually walked right into death-holes because they blended in with the rest of the screen.

Nevertheless, this is a must buy for most run-and-gun sidescroller fans, especially if you're down with the wacky juice, zombies, and/or fat dudes who wear bags on their heads and scream stuff. And it also really will hit home with the hardcore crowd who likes mastering gameplay elements and facing difficult levels with finite lives. At the very least, you should download the demo just to see some of the visuals and polish on this one.

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