(Some spoilers below.)
- The entire concept of basing a game on an intelligent popular book (that isn’t a pen and paper RPG sourcebook) is a great idea, and I hope more companies do this in the future instead of basing their games on crappy dumb action movies.
- This game is scary as shit. The all-in-your-mind sequences are incredible. The gas mask sequences actually made me feel like I was suffocating (I’m not kidding; when the filter was nearly gone, I stopped playing, and hid my character in a corner until he replaced it.) The introduction to the game, with the zoom out from the photograph of the beautiful untouched city, revealing that it’s just a post card in a dingy tiny apartment built into the side of a subway tunnel is brilliant. The phone suddenly ringing in the military base abandoned for 20 years after you restore power is amazingly creepy. (No, you can’t answer it.) When the companions with you start going kind of crazy, even the extremely with-it Rangers, that’s also amazingly creepy. The ghost sequence was brilliant.
- Despite that, it can also be uplifting at times, in fact at just the perfect times when you were just about to put the game away because the setting is so goddamned depressing.
- The sequence where a little kid is riding your back, which completely screws up your aim, is amazing. I loved everything about it. Especially the ending. (See the previous point.)
- The game engine and level designs allows you to go through the entire game without killing a single human if you so choose. I think this should be standard practice, frankly.
- The dual endings, represented by two characters in the game. Hunter (“if it’s hostile, kill it”), and Khan (“To break this vicious circle one must do more than act without any thought or doubt”). I was originally going to complain about how this was implemented, but then I realized: I think they did the right thing. The catch is, the game doesn’t hand-hold you into either ending (think of a Bioware game where dialog options are clearly labeled for what ending they contribute to). The only (minor) problem is that the game has no indication that there are multiple endings at all… but then again, the “good” ending is supposed to be for that rare player who really explores the game world in detail and does things a little different, and that’s basically what happens now.
- One of the characters plays a practical joke on you that’s genuinely funny. Humor is hard in video games. Especially localized versions of video games. Especially video games as dark and gritty as this one.
- The improvised weapons and flashlight were great. I liked the way you had to recharge the battery (or pneumatic weapon) during your free moments, or God help you when you run into the enemy later on and the battery’s dead.
- The escort missions aren’t very clearly labeled as escort missions, so you’re likely to lose the first one simply because you don’t realize that the guy you were supposed to be escorting doesn’t have infinite health like the rest of the Rangers with you at the time. This might be a localization problem.
- The second escort mission involves a hallway full of slime monsters. The only way to win this mission is to shoot the monster nests- but since the game gives no indication you can do that, you either end up accidentally shooting one or finally ask a friend, “how did you beat that damn level?”
- Additionally, when the slime monsters explode, your framerate goes to shit, making it nearly-impossible to keep playing. (In fact, monsters in the game always have kind of a herky-jerky motion. I’m not sure whether that’s a stylistic choice, a quirk of the game engine, or something specific to my particular computer.)
- There’s exactly one named female character in the game. She’s a prostitute. She steals all your stuff. No Besthesda-esque equal-opportunity bandits in this game.
- Quick time events. Ugh. Fortunately, you can easily predict when they’re coming, they all use the same key, and they aren’t in the middle of 5 minute long cutscenes. Hey game industry: nobody likes quick time events.
- The monsters are generic; they look like they came out of the “discount Doom 3 monster rip-off bin”. (Doom 3 was an awful game, but it sure influences the hell out of monster design in video games.) Plus, demons (in an otherwise realistic game) are proportioned all wrong for flight, and way too small to be able to tip over an armored 4×4 truck.
- The ghost sequence was brilliant, but it would have been nice to get another one, one without a guide where you have to get through using your own wits. Yes, one of “the bad” is, “there wasn’t enough of this great level!”
This game is excellent and I recommend playing it and I regret not playing through it earlier.