Wednesday, September 16, 2009

AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! - A Reckless Disregard for Gravity Review

AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! - A Reckless Disregard for Gravity, developed and published by Dejobaan Games.
The Good: Unique, lots of well designed maps that have numerous pathways, simple controls, fair level of challenge, really weird sense of humor, you get to flip people off
The Not So Good: Repetitive, no multiplayer, lacks a level editor
What say you? A novel premise and fine execution makes this action game exceptionally distinctive: 7/8

One of the more idiotic extreme sports is base jumping. I mean, you are inches away from cliffs or buildings that will severely injure, if not kill, you if the wind picks up. At least with skydiving there’s nothing to run in to other than the ground, and likewise with bungee jumping. Personally, I am partial to street luge (being a racing fan), and I am perturbed at its removal from the X Games (although the emphasis on personal-favorite rally racing is appreciated). Anyway, that brings us to the awesomely-named AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! - A Reckless Disregard for Gravity, and in the interest of making my review longer, I will be referring to this game by its full name. Copy and paste FTW! This is the latest game from eccentric developer Dejobaan Games, responsible for Epidemic Groove (which I liked) and The Wonderful End of the World, a game I skipped due to its overt similarities to Katamari Damacy. If there’s no way I’m going to leap off buildings in a single bound in real life, I might as well try it in the computer realm.

AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! - A Reckless Disregard for Gravity retains the futuristic, neon setting of Dejobaan’s previous titles. The map designs are pretty basic, with only simple architecture and low-detail textures that clearly can’t compete with a high-budget game like Mirror’s Edge. The ads are occasionally funny, though. The game uses some effects that will actually cause some performance problems for older systems or laptops with on-board graphics cards (which, let’s be honest, shouldn’t really be used for gaming anyway…man up, people!). I will say that AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! - A Reckless Disregard for Gravity is quite friendly to alt-tabbing out while writing a review, so it has that going for it, which is nice. The sound effects consist of audio warnings for pulling off stunts, verbal scoring, and background music that I enjoyed: exactly what is to be expected in an indie title. While AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! - A Reckless Disregard for Gravity isn’t the greatest-looking game in the world, but the visuals never negatively impact the gameplay.

In AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! - A Reckless Disregard for Gravity (which, let me say, is an awesome name for a game), you’ll jump off buildings and attempt to fall close to structures while not killing yourself. The game spans eighty levels that can be unlocked in a semi-non-linear manner (you can choose levels adjacent to completed ones in the giant rotating thingy of cubes); performing well earns teeth that are used to unlock new content. Not only are there eight or so levels, but you can also earn new abilities and weird stuff like meditative videos and instructions on how to bake cookies. The level selection “menu” (giant rotating thingy of cubes) doesn’t clearly indicate the score attained on each level without selecting it first: a minor annoyance. AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! - A Reckless Disregard for Gravity also lacks multiplayer: a sad limitation, considering two (or more) people jumping at once with the ability to interfere with each other would be really fun (maybe for AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! 2!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). And despite the robust collection of eighty levels, there is no level editor to make your own nefarious, dangerous creations.

Jump. Steer to avoid buildings. Get close to buildings to earn kisses. Stay close to earn hugs. That is how you play AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! - A Reckless Disregard for Gravity, using incomplete sentences. The sense of speed and impending peril is great, as the game requires true skill to avoid the tops of buildings (and an automatic failure, because you are dead). Smacking the side of a building turns you around for a second or so, just enough time to become a human pancake (with tangy red syrup!). You are eventually given additional controls (once you unlock them): you can give thumbs up to fans (indicated with blue arrows) as you pass by with the left mouse button, or flip off protestors (red arrows) with the right mouse button. The middle mouse button is reserved to spraying graffiti on color-coded structures, and caffeine can slow time down for those especially tricky times. There are also scoring plates for extra points, used to distract you with their pretty colors. When you get near the landing areas, deploy your parachute with spacebar (the game helpfully reminds you) and collect your teeth! Every once in a while, the game throws something different at you like wind or a mountain (or the teleporter…spoiler alert!), but most of the time you are navigating through an urban-like landscape of skyscrapers, and gameplay does tend to get repetitive. Thankfully, most levels only last a minute (usually less), so you can play a couple of levels and then take a break if you so choose. The game is difficult, but not unfairly so: it just requires subtle adjustments in precision to fit through that gap with the scoring plate. I really like the level design: there is (almost) always more than one path to the bottom, and you have to make quick decisions (because you are traveling at terminal velocity) as to which way to fall. AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! - A Reckless Disregard for Gravity could have failed epically if the levels weren’t interesting, but thankfully they are varied just enough to keep you wanting more. The maps are also short in duration (almost always less than a minute), so retries aren’t painful exercises in tedium. This is a very addictive game, where you just know you could have done that last level slightly better, so you do it again...20 more times.

AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! - A Reckless Disregard for Gravity is a great action game thanks to its distinctive premise, robust map designs, and challenging difficulty. The game takes base jumping and places it in a futuristic setting with tall buildings and asks you to navigate close, but not too close, to them as you hurtle towards the surface. The controls are very straightforward, and the addition of gestures to spectators, tagging skyscrapers, and slowing time elevates the game beyond simple steering. The game does tend to get repetitive after a couple of plays, but the eighty maps do show some variety and each individual map typically lasts less than a minute, so the game rarely becomes tedious. Better is the fact that the map designs of AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! - A Reckless Disregard for Gravity offer multiple pathways and freedom to find your own way to the bottom; there is always a higher scoring opportunity flashing by. It is difficult to earn five star ratings, but not unfairly so: with practice, you can get the subtle changes down and navigate the maps with relative ease. A fun sense of humor permeates throughout AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! - A Reckless Disregard for Gravity, showing that this is clearly not a serious game. The lack of a level editor and multiplayer are minor shortcomings, as you’ll be busy unlocking more maps and improving previous scores. You’ll know in the first minute of playing whether AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! - A Reckless Disregard for Gravity is right for you, and if it’s not, you are clearly a communist. The high-speed precision of AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! - A Reckless Disregard for Gravity demonstrates the game’s unmatched gameplay experience.