Top critical review
Slightly Below Mediocre - Could have been a four-star game with a little tightening up
on April 12, 2014
I love the 60's aesthetic of the game. The wardrobe, the environments, the fact that when you run into NPCs on a mission with a lot of dialogue your NPC companions break out their smokes, and lean up against the wall to take a break while you're talking; Little flourishes like this make the game enjoyable from the outset.
The story is nothing great; it's just something to chain the action sequences together (and that's fine). The voice acting of the major characters is up to industry standard as well, though some of the disposable NPCs and recordings you'll find are not very good.
I've never played Mass Effect (which I am told the mechanics of this borrow from heavily). I enjoy the concept, but I found the control to be very clunky in combat. The cover/shooting works about 75% of the time, but you end up in very tense situations where they fall apart. Like tying major functions to the same button with only slight context cues as to which it will perform at any given moment: Trying to run away from an enemy bearing down on you? If you don't use dead-on sniper-like accuracy, you just as likely to stick to a wall, or hopping over the wall towards the enemy you were trying to get cover from. Similarly you might want to take cover, but find yourself simply running at the surface. If you get frustrated and start spamming the "take cover" button, if you finally do engage the wall you'll hop over it. Some surfaces just inexplicably won't let you take cover, and some low walls will have you "take cover" but will leave you standing up/exposed instead of crouching down. Some tall walls just decide they don't want you to shoot around a certain corner either.
Other interactions have similar awkwardness to them: if you jump down from a slightly higher surface, you will stand there and do nothing for a few seconds while getting shot at. It is very frustrating to have these kinds of things in a tense gunfight.
Your companions were nice for their ability, but they expose themselves too much and need constant babysitting. Flanking is difficult because they keep following you and don't like to be more than 20-30ft from you. Even if you give them another position to run to, they'll run there and then run back to you.
I actually played this game on the second-easiest setting (The bad reviews were a warning that I'd want to get through it as quick as possible). Your average encounter was boringly easy (my fault for the difficulty selection), but there were some that were ridiculously hard. The last encounter in particular took me about 5 tries to get through. Also, the game pulls lots of cheap shots like enemies teleporting in. Sometimes you take up a defensive position only to have them spawn in right on top of you leading to a complete party wipe in about 2 seconds. A lot of the difficulty was because of the combat mechanics discussed above. Losing because I made poor decisions or was too slow to make them is acceptable; Losing because a half-dozen very different actions are tied to the same button is less than fun.
The game is...dare I say it...too long. Either that or it just paced and placed its climaxes too awkwardly. I thought it was going to end like 4 different times, and it just....kept....going.
The graphics (including art direction) and audio are great. The game just felt like certain pieces were highly polished, and others were hastily tossed in and no one over tested them. The concept is solid, but it's a shame this one got released half-baked.