Oh Christ,where do I even begin...
Last weekend I had the opportunity to have a wee gaming summit with Delph and Master N. It was good. We ate pizza, drank beer, and gamed ourselves silly. That too, was good. We tinkered with the Tingle Tuner in the new Zelda and we stunted ourselves big time with ATV Offroad Fury 2. Really good.
We tried playing Primal.
Let me get something straight - in games, it's usually the story that hooks me. Metal Gear Solid, most of the Final Fantasy series, and even the newer Zelda titles are really becoming addictive due not only to their great gameplay, but their immersive stories and well-thought characters. Final Fantasy Tactics, for example, had an incredible story that was full of twist, turns, plots, counterplots, and characters. It was addictive, it was well-balanced, it was a once in a gaming generation package.
Primal...crap...now I have to draw up memories of that experience...
To say that Primal - courtesy of our friends at Sony and their Cambridge Studios development group - tries too hard is a big understatement. This, my friends is THE example of what NOT to do. Primal's intended story hook is an anchor.
Jeebus, thinking about this game is making me break out in hives...
Ok, here's the general skinny: As you start this monstrosity, you learn that you are a punk-ish, attitude-ish, walking cliché named Jen. Jen has a guitar-playing cliché of a boyfriend. Jen's boyfriend's band is playing at some dive cliché,I mean club when he notices and seems to recognize a big trenchcoat adorned hulk in the crowd with glowing eyes...
...remember kids, glowing eyes equals EVIL...
Jen's boyfriend beats a hasty retreat after their last set, grabs Jen, and attempts to beat a hasty retreat from the club when this Resident Evil Nemesis knockoff blocks their path. Blah, blah, blah...turns into a monster...blah, blah, blah...knocks Jen away, blah, blah, blah...grabs the boyfriend and disappears. Jen wakes up in a hospital, well her SPIRIT does (groooaaannnn), and we meet a new character - a gargoyle named Scree.
The gamer is then treated with over a half hour of TALKING...bad, poorly written, uninteresting, whiny, TALKING. Oh, sure, Andreas Katsulas provides his vocal talents as the annoying gargoyle, but when you give a talented actor crap to work with, you get nothing back but talented crap.
The three of us languished in the yoke of this oppressive opening sequence. It became a game in of itself to see who would outlast the other - us or the game. We cracked jokes about this beast being a "book on game". I believe that Master N suggested that this was release was nothing BUT opening sequence and that a sequel would be the game. I think two smoke breaks came and went that the blather continued. When we got to actually control something, it was only to move Jen a few steps so that she, and we, could experience the joy of MORE TALKING!!!
...then the game locked up. THE SON OF A BITCH LOCKED UP!!! Pointless jaw-moving yielded a blasted lockup! Fury gave way to a depressing kind of resignation when we joked that the console couldn't stand the game anymore than we could. Sadly, the only remaining thing fueling us at this point (other than beer) was pride so we actually reset the system and tried our best to muddle on.
Finally, after was had to have been forty-five minutes of this nonsence, we felt like we won. We actually entered a wee modicum of gameplay. No punching, kicking, or nifty little animal morphing for us, though...we got to control Scree. In a glimmer of hope in the gameplay department, one learned that Scree can walk up and around the "any stone surface". Our brief joy was soon squashed again when we learned by doing that though Scree can indeed do a bit of stone crawling, it seemed that he could only do it on very, VERY select types of stone surfaces - that's right, true believers, Primal found a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by giving the gamer a God-damned BAIT AND SWITCH.
That was the final straw. We had enough. We turned the Playstation 2 off, pulled out the disk, and damned near tossed the blasted thing into a parking lot. We were simply unable to tolerate this awful game further.
After a beer and a smoke, we mentally checked our scorecard we learned that Primal treated us to:
Nearly an hour of pointless, poorly written dialogue
An inexcusable crash
A bait and switch
IGN (the Ignorant Gaming Nimrods) lauds this game for it's "unconventional thinking". NO. BAD. Primal is nothing more than a button-mashing fighter when you really boil it down. IGN loves the fact that the heroine is a strong-willed woman. Ahem...ummm...IGN?...THIS IS NOT A NEW CONCEPT!!! The IGN chum-buckets loooooved the "atmosphere". Ok, when you count "being too dark to see a damned thing" atmosphere, then Primal is full of it.
Primal, like Final Fantasy Tactics, is one of those rare finds. Unlike 'Tactics, though, Primal is an unmitigated disaster. It is an awful game. It's load of festering, pus-spun, elephant spoor. It is simply unplayable. This latest from SCCA is a most prominent example of when the story gets in the way of the game. Primal is so pretentious that it forgets that there is indeed a controller hooked up to the console.
Here's the bottom line, friends: Don't buy Primal. Don't rent Primal. If you value your soul, stay the hell away from what could possibly be the most painful gaming experience of the modern age.
Oh, and before I forget...
(Footnote: Coalition forces have found copies of this game several torture chambers in Baghdad. Despicable bastards...)