Tag Archives: FPS

Opinions on… Superhot

Time moves only when you move. It’s a simple idea, all things considered, but oddly enough its taken until the arrival of Superhot before it has truly come to see the light of day. The basic premise here couldn’t be simpler; use this power to the fullest, kill everything that is trying to kill you, and don’t die in the process. Sounds like a relatively easy affair, right?

Not quite. You see, it doesn’t take long with the game to realise that this isn’t an FPS in the traditional sense; one where you can immediately blast everything in sight without ever breaking a sweat. Instead, it takes on the shape or something closely resembling a puzzle… One that requires time and concentration, as well as dying a fair few times, before you can finally wrench victory from amidst the hail of bullets heading your direction. Yet this isn’t a bad thing – in fact, it’s quite the opposite. There’s great satisfaction in slowly breaking down a level piece by piece, then finally succeeding in putting it all into action, that honestly makes you feel something that resembles being the ultimate architect of death.

Superhot knows its strength lies in this careful plotting and preparation, and in a sense its basic art style feels like a response to this. There are very few colours in play here, each serving their own purpose – black things are items you can use, red denotes enemies, and practically everything else is white or grey. With the rules clearly defined, it becomes a simple and pure battle of skill – you against the game, with nothing left to distract you or get in your way. When later levels see almost absurd amounts of enemies being thrown at you, it honestly feels like you’re fighting against the odds, with only your skills and time freezing abilities ever giving you a chance. Naturally, this makes succeeding in a situation where your back is against the wall all the sweeter – an actual accomplishment, instead of something you could have stormed through in under two minutes. It’s a good feeling.

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It’s also a benefit in Superhot’s favour that everything that you’re getting up to just feels really damn cool. For example, some basic strategy here might see you toss your gun at an enemy, swipe the gun he drops as it flies through the air, and then spin around in an instant to slay the dude sneaking up behind you… And heck, I think it sounds cool when I write that, never mind when you actually do it. You that’s not the limit of what you can pull off here, and the more you play, the more daring you will become. In the end, it becomes a challenge of squeezing out the best from every passing second and tiny movement, just to try and achieve something that essentially adds up to a few extra cool points. As the icing on the cake, once a level is complete you also get to see your antics at a normal speed, and that just ends up making everything you did look even more impressive. Thank goodness there’s the ability to save clips and upload them for all to see here, because some of the things you’re destined to pull off will be stuff you’ll be desperate to show off to the world.

Completing the story also grants you additional endless and challenge modes, which not only adds a thoroughly healthy chunk of gameplay to a title that would otherwise end up feeling slightly too brief, but also cranks the craziness up to the next level. Endless mode in particular is a treat, with wave upon wave of bad dudes pushing your abilities to the limit, as you desperately look for any solution or escape route as your margin for error gets smaller and smaller. It’s exciting stuff.

Enjoy feeling like the king of cool while you can, though, because Superhot’s got another goal in mind for you; it wants to mess with your head. Big time.

This is something that the game makes readily apparent it wants to do to you from approximately five minutes after you’ve started the game. This is because as a player of taking the first steps into the world of Superhot, you play the role of someone… Taking their first steps into the world of Superhot. Yeah, wrap your head around that. It creates a situation where every twist and turn may technically be aimed at the character you control, but instead feels like it’s directly aimed at messing with you, and it does so perfectly.

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There’s a lot going on that’s setting out to confuse and disorientate you, you see. Giant messages suddenly flicker and flash in front of your eyes (Photosensitive players beware, because this kind of started to give me a headache after a while), and the retro computer screens that form up the navigation and background to the game flicker and distort to ever greater extents as you descend further into madness. I won’t spoil anything in particular, but there’s a genius moment in particular where you’re compelled into doing something that you’d never expect, but becomes memorable simply because of the fact you weren’t expecting it. It’s clever stuff.

A special shout out also has to go out for the sound design. There’s literally no music in the game besides one track that only ever appears in the credits. Instead it’s down to a series of hums and beeps, constant buzzing static, and much more besides to create an incredible sense of unease. All things considered, I feel it honestly what’s on display here unsettled me more than any soundtrack sound ever have hoped to do. Heck, even the word “Superhot” gets in the action, getting repeated endlessly at the end of each level; it becomes almost a sort of madness mantra, one that I guarantee you is almost impossible to resist repeating yourself. It’s all so pleasingly disturbing.

Overall, then, I can find very little to actually fault with Superhot. There perhaps should be a little more to the story, all things considered, and especially considering the game’s relatively high price point. Additionally, there were perhaps a few scattered moments where the gameplay and difficulty slipped slightly too far into the infuriating category, but hey, maybe I’m just rubbish. In the end there’s nothing I can truly pick apart when it comes to what’s on offer here. When all is said and done… It’s the most innovative shooter I’ve played in years.

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Opinions on… Doom

At the announcement of a new Doom, there were a fair few people out there who perhaps let out a slow yet weary sigh, their heads perhaps making a soft thud as they hit the nearest hard surface. It was easy to see how the end result could have manifested itself as a mere cash in, one that could rake in the money without putting any heart or soul into the actual finished product. With hope in their hearts, fans turned to the unexpected success of Wolfenstein: The New Order a couple years prior, and prayed for the best. And their prayers were answered. Because this is really damn good.

The reason for this, you see, is simple; strip away the impressive looking graphics and electronic rock soundtrack that forms the outer layer of the game, and the heart of classic Doom and what made it so good can still be seen to be vividly beating away. The trappings of the modern FPS are non-existent here; regenerating health is replaced with health and armour pickups, the normal slow drip feed of better weapons replaced with obtaining a rocket launcher in about the third level. Heck, even the whole concept of reloading simply doesn’t exist in this world. It’s also incredibly fast – standing still merely offers an open invitation for the hordes of hell to poke a few extra holes in your face. Movement is life, so you’ll be gleefully zipping around the screen, laying waste to anything that moves. It’s refreshingly good fun.

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It’s also brutally violent, in an oh-so-satisfying way. There’s a ‘glory kill’ system in place here, where getting up close and personal to finish your enemies is rewarded with extra health and ammo. Each of the many glory kills on offer are brutal to watch, often involving the forceful removal of limbs to aid in the application of even more pain, but they’re all so quick to execute they never get boring or impede the flow of things in any real way. If that’s not enough for you, there’s also the option to chainsaw your foes clean in two, or later on just blow them up into a thousand pieces using the series most infamous weapon… Yes, you know the one. Oh, and there’s also a pickup that lets you rip opponents clean in half. Vertically.

The game’s over-the-top nature is reflected in the character of the Doom Marine, who literally does not give a damn about anything. Things in his way get smashed without care and reason, and even other characters drily note he only seems to care about killing everything in his way. This attitude even extends to the plot – there’s actually a story of some depth and detail hidden away here, but when the Doom Marine casually throws away the first monitor that dares to try and explain any of it to you, you immediately know the score. It’s gleeful self-parody, and it works so well.

Put everything together, and it’s a glorious exercise in pure chaos simply existing for the sake of pure fun, every component slotting together in a way that just goads you into blowing more stuff up. The main campaign is a satisfying length, and coupling this with the task of uncovering the game’s many secrets and challenges (the completion of each giving you the ability to upgrade your weapons to more brutal levels) means there’s a perfect excuse to keep feasting on the carnage.

When it comes to problems, there’s a bunch of minor irritations that did catch my attention, even if most only dulled my enjoyment by a minute amount. For one, while I understand that working your way through a labyrinthine structure seeking the exit has always been part of what makes Doom what it is, it doesn’t stop getting lost here being a somewhat frustrating affair. Each time it occurs it brings the pace to a sudden and jarring halt, and even though there’s a map screen, it’s so confusing to try and navigate I found myself desperately trying not to use it.

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Weapon strength seems a bit odd as well; I found an upgraded shotgun more beneficial in most situations that an upgraded super shotgun, despite the latter having the word “super” in its name. To add to this, once you get a rocket launcher with homing missiles, it’s only a lack of ammo that stops it being the solution to practically every problem. Snapmaps – user created levels – also seem like a good idea in theory, but all the ones highlighted as the best the community still lack the soul of what makes the campaign so great. The feature, while ambitious, becomes a brief side attraction at the very best.

On a final side note, if you’re here for multiplayer action, don’t bother – the servers are so sparsely populated it’s honestly difficult to actually get into a match. That’s not really a fault of the developer’s own doing, however, and shouldn’t be taken as any real indication of how fun the multiplayer might actually be to play; it’s just the natural passage of time seeing the community moving on to the next big thing.

None of these problems hardly matter, however. Doom is the perfect blast to the past, one that perfectly pokes at that primal urge just to let loose and smash stuff. It’s an FPS game that breaks all the rules that most FPS games of today follow, and it does so in such an over-the-top way that it’s simply all the better for it. Rip and tear!