Tuesday, May 4

Game Review - Spy Games: Elevator Mission

    Today I'll be reviewing Spy Games: Elevator Mission for the Wii. Now the Wii is the best selling current-gen system at 67 million units. Despite releasing a year later, it's nearly 30 million units ahead of the Xbox 360 (which in turn is ahead of the PS3.) It is now the best selling Nintendo home console, and after nearly four years it's still selling out frequently. But as the best selling, and cheapest system, it's also the target for the most shovel-ware. The best selling game system always gets the cheapest, worst games of the generation. Yet among all the crappy games like Super Mario Galaxy, Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, and Red Steel 2, there are a few brilliant games like Spy Games: Elevator Mission.

    Elevator Mission is a simple shooting game. You land on the roof of a 50 story office building, and work your way through each floor looking for five data discs. These discs hold information about the corporation's illicit arms dealings. Along the way there are plenty of baddies to shoot. You start with a wimpy little pistol that you have to shoot the bad guys um. once to kill them? This pistol also has unlimited ammo, and is so awesome that it doesn't even make a sound when you shoot. Holy crap! This game makes you feel invincible. The enemy bullets move slow enough that you can dodge them, only adding to your feeling of invincibility. There's also a machine gun and a shotgun that you can pick up later. It's also a corridor shooter like the original Wolfenstein 3D, except it's much, much better. It's games like this, a corridor shooter with three types of bad guys (the only difference is how many times you have to shoot them.) I'm just overwhelmed by how awesome this game is...NOT!

    This game is terrible, just plain terrible. It's quite possibly the worst console game since Superman for the N64. The walls are ugly, the enemies are completely mindless, and like I said your gun doesn't make any sounds. The bad guys only have one death animation, and they always make the same grunt when killed. This gets annoying fast. You'd think that a machine gun or a shotgun would be better than a pistol, well in Elevator Mission, you'd be wrong. the machine gun barely does any damage, and the shotgun, while powerful, shoots very slowly. Either way, your pistol has unlimited ammo while the others don't. This makes their inclusion pretty much pointless. One of the worst things though, is that you can't sidestep. The joystick just turns. Shouldn't aiming the gun to the side of the TV screen do that instead? Know what, it doesn't! That's right, you can't sidestep in this game. Wait...you can. By holding the C button on the nun-chuck, the joysticks left and right sidesteps instead of turns. That means I can't circle strafe. I've been able to circle strafe since the days of Doom, and yet this game doesn't let me? I seriously can't believe how bad this game is.

    In my first play-through, I made it through about seven floors, and found one data disc, before I was killed. At first the game seems easy as you take damage quite slowly, but you'll soon discover the lack of health packs. You'll only find one every four or so floors, and they recover a tenth of your health at best. You'll find that as you travel through this building, your health will slowly diminish into nothingness. If there is one positive thing I can say about this game, you can shoot certain panels on the walls to temporarily disable the lights. Why someone would have a metal panel in the middle of a hallway is beyond me, but this is a videogame we're talking about. When the lights go out, you use the night vision goggles that you find along the way. And when I say that's a positive thing, I mean it's the least crappy element to this pile of sewage.

    For the sake of it, let's look at the game's case. You can already see the front cover at the top of this review. Looks pretty white doesn't it?! On the back, there's a picture of a city and three screen-shots you can barely see. There are also four short sentences that I'm going to just copy down below.

You're a secret agent tasked with recovering vital documents from the enemy syndicate. Use strategy, stealth and cunning to accomplish your mission."

    Anyone else notice how bland that is? Pretty much every spy shooter has at least one mission where you have to sneak into enemy territory to gather intelligence - this game fails to tell us how it's unique. Moving on,

    "Get In Control - Use the unique features of the Nintendo Wii to point, aim and shoot your way to victory."

    Yeah, um...at least half the games on the Wii use the point and shoot one way or another, how does this make you unique?

    "Continuous Level Design - Play through one enormous level, spread out through 40+ sections, minimizing load times and keeping the action continuous."

    What? They actually mentioned load times on the back of a game case? They actually have to resort to using short load times as a reason to buy this game? You can tell that whoever designed the cover knew it was bad. The building you fight through has 50 floors, so why not just say 50 instead of 40+? And "Continuous Level Design"? That just makes no sense. The cover has one more sentence attempting to sell this game,

"Replay Value - Missions will never get stale as they are randomly assigned, giving the game almost infinite re-playability."

    Um, so because the same floors are organized differently, the game is infinitely re-playable? And when every floor is just a random assortment of hallways that look exactly the same, I struggle to find how this game is playable at all. Also, it turns out that only means the data discs are in different locations each time you play, because the floors are still organized the same way. The game cover fails utterly at trying to sell the game to us. But wait, I had trouble getting past the first 10 floors; do the instructions carry any helpful advice?

    The first thing you'll notice with the instructions is how thin they are. There are only nine pages in this instructions book...wow! Of those eight pages, one talks about the Nintendo license and the game's "T" rating, one is a table of contents/mindless "how to start the game" instructions, two pages are for the controls, and one is about warranty and customer support. The rest of the instructions just talk about enemies and items, things that I could figure out for myself. Well, that was pointless. The only thing I really learned is that you can actually save your progress every time you enter an elevator, and that you can jump. Wait, jump? It's a 2.5 dimensional corridor shooter and you can jump? What's the point when it doesn't make any navigational difference? Oh, but I also noticed that the story in the instructions contradicts the in-game story. The instructions say that terrorists have taken over a building. They possess five secret documents that must be retrieved. That's right everyone, they can't even keep their own two-sentence story straight. That's how lazy the developers are. I should also note here that the game claims to be a sequel to something, but in all my research, I couldn't find any evidence of a former Spy Games game for any system or platform.

    Anyway, now that I know I can save, it's time to actually beat this game. This time, I got all the way through to what the game calls Gate B on the 40th floor, but it won't open. It turns out I need the data disc, which never showed up, in order to make it through. Here I also learned that the game's loading system flat-out lies. You can save in an elevator, but you can't load. What's the point of saving if you can't frickin' load? So yeah, I ran out of time looking for the data disc, and the game's offer for me to retry simply sent me back to the 50th floor. Thanks guys, thanks for creating a save/load system that doesn't even work.

    During my second play-through, I managed to get the first data disc, and make it through gate B. After I got through, the background music changed and so did the wall designs. That was a welcome change, rather than an annoying music theme and a sickening wall design, I got a barely noticeable tune and a bland wall design - an improvement. However, after I reached floor 36, my Wii-mote ran out of batteries. Most games would automatically pause until you replace the batteries, but not this game.. As I was in the middle of a hallway at the time, I could only watch as my in-game character was gunned down helplessly as I frantically tried to plug in my battery pack. This is a serious design flaw here; the second the controller is disconnected, the game should recognize this and pause immediately. This has been done since the NES days, it's been fairly standard programming since PSX and N64, and yet this game can't do that? This is infuriating!

    In my third play-through, I managed to get through gate B, and gate C on the 30th floor before finally being gunned down on floor 27 or so. I have had enough - I hate this game. To call itself a sequel to a non-existent game and to throw out pretty much every gaming revolution since Wolfenstein 3D (and even taking out a few innovations from that title) and to try to sell this? The graphics are that of a lazy Dreamcast game, the sound is atrocious, and the gameplay is about as fun as repeatedly smashing your foot with a sledgehammer. The fact that this game exists is the strongest argument for Hell's existence that I've yet encountered, and it should be banished from the solar system immediately.


1 comment:

  1. Um you can save in the elevator but when it asks you to retry say no and then on the home screen click continue then u start right back where you saved from... oh and i havent noticed that anything is different... all the characters appear at the same time and i found the first disk on the same floor i did everytime... i have only made it to outside gate C to realize i didnt know have the disk... it is a stupid game but its frusterating that i cant beat it... i cant find the second disk...