Sunday, March 26, 2006

Evil Invasion Review

Evil Invasion, developed and published by VH Games.
The Good: Multiple spells and skills, some strategy when choosing spells
The Not So Good: Overwhelming forces remove any fun, repetitious, antique overhead graphics, poor AI
What say you? An action RPG game that relies on hordes of enemies for difficulty: 4/8

It always seems like the good guys are outnumbered. Name your movie, and you’ll find that the forces of evil almost always double the number of heroes. Why is that? Do evil forces have better retirement plans? Whatever the reason, Evil Invasion is another one of those games, where you, as the merchant of all things good, must single-handedly defeat masses of evil foes (that whole invasion thing). Armed with spells and your wits, you must survive against all odds. Can you stop the evil invasion? Would you ever want to? These questions, plus Andy Rooney, tonight on Out of Eight.

Evil Invasion is played from an overhead perspective, which I thought died out with the Super Nintendo. It wouldn’t be so bad if the game looked halfway decent or was easily playable, but it’s not. First, your character looks too much like some of the enemies; I cannot count how many times I was looking at the wrong person, wondering why he wasn’t moving down when I told him to. The graphical effects are not very good in the game, just some basic pictures that accompany each of your spells (which could be drawn in about 10 minutes or so). This also goes for the detail of the characters; most of the enemies look like blobs with arms, not the highly detailed creations we are used to in modern computer games. The sound is along the same lines: not very impressive. Evil Invasion just has some basic effects for death sequences and the different spells, but that’s about it. I’m not usually concerned if a game has lower-end graphics, but I do have a problem if it interferes with the gameplay, which the undefined characters in Evil Invasion do.

Evil Invasion features ten quests and a survival mode (where you engage an endless stream of foes). This doesn’t sound like many quests, but they are long and essentially the same; you play on a bland, blank map while packs of enemies stream towards you. The entire game consists of click on enemies to unleash your spells and moving backwards as they run toward you. Clicking. Moving. Clicking. Moving. That’s it. It’s fairly boring, and because all of the maps consist of the bland surroundings, it never gets really different, other than the more advanced enemies that come towards you. As you kill more enemies, you pause the game and level up to assign better attributes in five areas: strength (increased health), dexterity (increased speed), stamina (increased health AND speed), intelligence (increased mana capacity), and wisdom (increased mana capacity again). You can also acquire better spells to destroy more enemies. There is some strategy in dealing with spells; you can save two spells as a primary and secondary attack, but must click down in the bottom of the screen to substitute in other spells. This is about as sophisticated as Evil Invasion gets. There are seven different monster types, although they essentially behave the same (running in a line towards the player) but have different weapons. This is very similar to the AI seen in Deadhunt, which is not a good thing. When an enemy dies, there is a chance they could drop a bonus item such as improved speed or health. But since all of the enemies just run in a straight line pack towards you, they are hard to get to unless you walk in a giant circle around the map. In terms of other features, there is a central high score list you can submit to, which is the multiplayer element of the game.

The bottom line is that Evil Invasion is just not fun to play. In today’s gaming environment, we need more than just mowing down endless bodies of stupid enemies. We’ve seen this before in Serious Sam, and it was done much better. The main problem with Evil Invasion is the lack of variety. All of the environments are essentially the same. All of the enemies are essentially the same. All of the spells are essentially the same. All of the graphics are essentially the same. Speaking of the graphics, the game makes it too difficult to follow the action, resulting in confusion and death. I mean, look at this screenshot; can you find the player in all of this? Me neither, and now you feel my pain. I don’t need to be playing Where’s Waldo while trying to survive against an insane number of enemy units. Maybe some people could find this enjoyable, but I don’t. The game does have some RPG elements in it and the spell system forces you to wisely choose your best combination of weapons (probably the strongest aspect of the game), but the rest of the game is a retread mash of what we’ve seen before in other titles. Add in the constant clicking and running away from the enemies, leading them in a congo line of death, and you can see why this game falls far below acceptable expectations.