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Back when modern gaming was young and groundbreaking games like Resident Evil first game out, there were problems. The primary one being that the game’s user interface was, well… wonky. Oftentimes, when one least expected it, players would be left standing in one spot, spinning uncontrollably, while the undead hordes closed in. It was frustrating. It was pointless. And it made for a very unsatisfying gaming experience, to say the least. Well, games have come a long way since then and now, with Xbox’s Kinect technology, we collectively find ourselves back at that place with a new user interface being introduced and, sadly, the same problems seem to be rearing their unwanted head once again.
With Rise of the Nightmares, we get a decent enough premise - a man’s wife is abducted from a train on which the two of them are spending their vacation. The rest of the game, for the most part, is our hero clumsily making his way through a series of levels involving zombies, mad scientists, and assorted other creatures.
While the look of the game is dank and oozing atmosphere (comparisons to Condemned, House of the Dead, and The Suffering are not too far afield), it is the gameplay itself that makes Rise of the Nightmares such a pain in the ass to play. You see, with Kinect games, players are expected to use their body as a controller using big, explosive movements which - hopefully - will make their character do something. Sadly, because of the way it is setup, Rise has the player standing for long periods of time, arm raised, as they allow the game’s AI to take over and whisk them down long hallways, through railway cars, and around gloomy dungeons. Once things heat up (sometime after The Crypt), things get a little more exciting, but the AI still plays a major role.
It all makes for a rather boring and frustrating adventure.
Granted, horror games need pauses in order to ratchet up the fear quotient and to make the appearance of a threat all that much more exciting. However, a lot of the time, when the poop hit’s the prop, the users sudden motion is too much for the Kinect to recognize and one’s character is left flailing and not doing much of anything else. It begs the question of how the game might have been received had a standard controller been used. Honestly… not very well. Since the gameplay is predicated on being controlled by the Kinect, there is little doubt that this property would never have gotten off the design board otherwise.
Now, this is not to say the game is not without its worth. Rise is a bold and inventive experiment that hints at a greater - and funner - style of gameplay. In other words, it’s a solid first step. And given time, as more and more developers climb aboard the Kinect technology, we’re sure tp see better and better incarnations of this same basic idea. And don’t get me wrong, there is a seed of a very good idea here… but “first fruit” are rarely sweet. So, give game developers time and Kinect will be a force to be reckoned with. Sadly though, while Rise of the Nightmares is a decent enough first footprint in the sand of that beach, it’s not without its share of problems and therefore only a mediocre game.
Video Game Reviews
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