Monday, February 12, 2007

Fictional Game Review: Life 07

My fellow blogger Tom sent this to me as a possible speedlink, but I think it's worthy of it's own post. As I first read it, I kept forgetting that it was a fictional review and not a real game. You may or may not agree with the basic assumptions, but the proficiency of the approach is excellent.

From Google Blogoscoped:

Life 07 (an entirely fictional game review)

Life 07 is no game like any other, and you’ll notice pretty quickly after opening the box: in big bold letters, you’re warned that when you die in the game, you will not be able to play again. The game makers made this possible by tapping a video console memory capacity that was unused before, according to information from video console spokespersons. “It’s true that ... there is no way to erase from memory what happens in Life 07,” one source commented.

Great visuals and sound effects

The game continues to be quite an atypical experience from the moment you insert it in your console, and make yourself comfortable sitting down with your controller, your friends, and a couple of drinks (get ready for a long play). First of all, this is strictly single-player mode, so your friends will need to either buy their own game, or just watch. But the 3D graphics of Life 07 are indeed the most satisfying to watch of any exploration game we’ve seen on the market so far. A crisp resolution, seemingly endless mirror effects, changing weather, super-realistic avatars, and no flickering, nevermind how complex the setting gets.

What’s best: the in-game sound effects equal the quality of the visuals. While the game creators, God Studios, decided to not include a soundtrack in the game – they were not available for comments to us regarding the reasons of this omission – the sound effects well make up for it. There is a near endless array of sounds attached to every object, as well as every action you apply to it (breaking, scratching, throwing and so on). Things uniquely rattle, shriek, bang, toot, vibrate, echo, buzz and hum, and merely listening to your avatar’s environment is a great deal of fun.

Training your character

Before you can enjoy the full game-play though, you need to train your character (which, by the way, is of random ethnicity and gender when you start out). Training the character is a tedious task at first; the controller fails to immediately translate your input into proper movements. Be prepared to stumble and fall quite a bit in the beginning. It will take years of game time to perfect a simple act like walking. Anything more eccentric, like jumping, playing tennis, fencing, juggling, climbing up walls and so on will take even longer than that. But eventually, you’ll get used to it. If there’s a big downside to the game philosophy, we have to say the controls are it, though. It’s unclear why God Studios put such a big hurdle right at the beginning of the game, where players are most likely to give up. But if they do, boy are they gonna miss out!

During the first game years, you can grab almost any object and have other in-game characters pay for it.

As soon as your avatar grows up, the fun really starts. With mastered controls, you can now set out to explore the world. Like with any explorative game there are certain tasks to fulfill, some fun, some more tedious, but they’re all part of the adventure. The game-play at this stage circles around going to school, receiving an education about the game world, or collecting marbles (and even collecting in-game representations of video games, which, amazingly enough, are all fully playable). Enemies are other avatars you meet, young and old, as well as animals like dogs.

Often, you need to listen closely to the stereo sound effects the environment emits; as a rule-of-thumb, the louder the sound, the more dangerous the upcoming situation. It’s often wise to just run. There is no obvious “honor” system, or any other kind of score, so you will not be directly punished for not acting like a hero. However, all your actions have a strong indirect effect in the game world. For example, if you’re seen as a weakling, other avatars may attack your avatar more frequently. Choosing a middle road between passiveness and aggressiveness was the way to go when we tested the game here.

Free game-play

When more game years pass in Life 07, you’ll be confronted with the first Free Decision obstacle. Free Decision was patented by God Studios and allows you to truly choose any available job or non-job at all.

Read the rest (there's much more).

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