Thursday, March 4, 2010

Game Review: Cyber Swat

Cyber Swat is a game that vacillates between frustrating, fun, and frustrating (two parts of frustration for every part of fun).

(Once again, provides me a place to play the game for the review; if you don't remember me talking about the site before, it had a funny disclaimer.)

The plot, such as it is, is that you are the pilot of a police robot. This robot is... rather unusual.

Uh... Ahem.

The control is simply the mouse; the robot chases around the cursor as long as it's inside the game screen. You jump by clicking.

Incidentally, I'm pretty sure that the programmer's first language was not really English, or that if it was, they didn't learn it too well. (This isn't unusual for flash games, actually.) My evidence?

Yes, "rooky."

The odd bit about the game, but an oddly logical bit when you think about it, is that your robot is essentially Mario as he appears in most of his traditional games: You defeat enemies by jumping on them.

On the one hand, as I say, it's surprisingly logical; you're piloting a robot that must weight at least five tons. (The annoyance factor of playing as a Mario type character is further mitigated by the robot's heavy armor and the fact that only a few enemies can damage the robot by touching it.)

On the other hand, it creates some painfully annoying gameplay: You can't jump very high, making big enemies hard to defeat unless you move just so.

Further, there's all sorts of other gameplay issues that come up. One of them comes from the fact that the robot is awfully tall herself-there are several places where, if you don't leap with microscopic precision, she bounces off the ceiling and falls back to where you leapt from, or worse, a few hundred feet. Also, you can't steer in midair, which makes long falls far more awkward. (Sure, you could claim realism, but shouldn't a jumping robot have steering rockets or something?)

The first mission involves rescuing some hostages from some white van-driving terrorists; all you have to do is smash some floors out from underneath the hostage-takers to take care of things.

Until the boss fight, that is.

Fortunately, the titanic boss, which is too large to take a good screenshot of, does not have to be defeated by jumping-instead you get a magic upgrade which transforms the robot into a fighter plane or something.

Now, on the one hand, it's nice to not have to rely on jumping on the darned thing. (It's way too big to do that. It's also too fast, too aggressive, and just generally too cussed.) On the other hand, changing gameplay right before this boss fight, which by the way is insanely hard even though you have machine guns now, might not be a good idea design wise.

There's a second level, which I have reached and beaten, but despite the size of the menu screen, there's no third level or any beyond. (Seriously, the menu screen is gigantic.) The second level is mostly similar to the first, except with a different scenario and different transformation for the boss battle. (And an even harder boss.)

Which brings me to my final complaint-dang, but it's a short game.

If you don't mind a short game with frustrating gameplay, this game is a reasonably pretty and engaging one. If you don't like those things, well, you'll probably find it fun enough. I did.

-Signing off.

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