Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Video Game Review: Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects (Nintendo GameCube)

Have you ever played a terrible game? No? Then look no further than Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects! This game has all the staples of an awful experience: game-breaking glitches on every stage, repetitive missions, incoherent plot, shitty graphics, sloppy controls, piss-poor camera, lazy original character design, boring music, crappy sound effects, and the ability to throw players into situations where all of these faults come together to rip open your ass (some insane people have taken a masochistic liking to this type of game, dubbing it "NES Hard"). The only moderately okay thing here is the voice acting, and that's... it's not really that good.

You might think that I'm exaggerating greatly to stir up some sensationalism, but I'm not. I'm only exaggerating a little bit. There are some moments when I was genuinely having fun here. Of particular note is the web-swinging action of the web-swinging characters, a mechanic which is kind of rhythmic and engaging on its own. I could basically swing around with Daredevil all day and have a good time. Some of the boss challenges can also be enjoyable once you get a pattern down, but for the most part they are an unmitigated disaster.

Let me start with the glitches. There are so many of them that you'd think the game was actually built around the concept of being unpredictable. Attacks will do inconsistent amounts of damage, enemies will frequently remain locked in "Rage Mode" for the entirety of a fight, you will fall through plenty of walls, the could-have-been-fun wall-running mechanics (which remind me of Mirror's Edge when they work) are absolutely broken as shit and will simply decide "You die now", enemy characters seem to exhibit speed and reaction timing which are utterly impossible, as well as the ability to cancel out of any frame at any point for the purposes of wiping you all over the floor, and the list just goes on. My favorite is the "Play through the game twice to unlock all of the bonuses only to have your file become corrupted and erased immediately after the rewards screen" glitch. I just love it.

This game doesn't stop being a dick when it decides to work right, either. Hell, even the cutscenes are jerks! The very beginning of the game introduces you to an admittedly tear-jerking moment in which we see Captain America vaporized, Hulk buried, and Punisher's shirt snagged up on some twisted metal poles while a Gatling gun rests where he stood. We later discover via the story mode that characters who are "Killed" by the invading forces (the "Imperfects") are not actually dead, but are simply put under some kind of mind control. Despite this, Captain America, Hulk, and Punisher are not going to be anywhere near your playable roster. I guess Cap is in the PSP version, but Punisher and Hulk are not. Do you know how excited I was to see Punisher in one of these Marvel crossover games? He never gets in on any of this stuff! Marvel vs. Capcom? No Punisher. Marvel: Ultimate Alliance? No Punisher. Marvel Nemesis?


No Punisher.

That's not to say the roster is bad, because you actually have a pretty solid line up of guys here. It's just... you can't go teasing us like that! Not cool. Who you do have are Iron Man, Spider-Man, Daredevil, Magneto, Thing, Human Torch, Storm, Elektra, Venom, Wolverine, and a handful of original characters: Niles van Roekel, Brigade, Solara, Paragon, Fault Zone, Wink, Hazmat, and Johnny Ohm. Unlike most people, I actually liked these new characters and I'd probably pick up a new game if EA decided to fix this dump and simply release "Imperfects" as a stand alone project or something. Most of their origins don't make a whole lot of sense, but they could be ironed out easily enough.

I do have to complain about Storm, though. Not because she's a bad character, but because they made her fight in a bikini. Now, I'm not some 'kini-hatin' prude or anything--characters that wear swimsuits into battle are just fine in my book. Storm, however, is not such a character. As far as I know, all of Storm's costumes have been pretty covering. My favorite is always going to be the white one from the animated series, but even her modern uniforms are still fitting for the character, despite being a little more revealing. Storm is okay showing off some legs or her belly or whatever, but I'm going to say underwear is a little beneath her.

So this game has all of two modes: Versus and "Story". "Story" is in quotes, because there isn't one. Sure, there are cutscenes and the characters interact and all that, but there isn't any story to be found. The heroes magically learn about this thing called "Paragon" without ever being told, everybody automatically knows where they need to be, and it's just a random bunch of people beating each other up at random places. That's okay in itself, I guess. That's what games are. I just think I would have rather they not tried to pretend there was a coherent narrative here instead of insulting my intelligence.

The only actually enjoyable things in the game are the comics and cards you unlock after completing a mission. In my version I got a Fantastic Four story and a Tomorrow People story. The comics are presented as motion comics with a narrative that doesn't actually read the word balloons. The narration is all unique and kind of distracting for anybody who actually wants to read the text on the screen. Y'see, you can't do both--it fries your brain trying. You either get the narrative or you get the comic, and it's kind of a bummer. Despite this, the Fantastic Four story is actually pretty cool. I can't say anything about The Tomorrow People, because my game flipped out and fucking erased it. I'm just going to buy the comics anyways, I guess.

Look, in short: this game is awful. Simply awful. There are some cool ideas in it and I think it had the potential to be wonderful, but it just fell flat under the weight of all the wrong. The glitches, the game-breaking difficulty, and the dreadful, boring, dark tones all detract from the game. The camera finds much joy in flying away until you're off-screen, and y'know, then you die. I enjoyed a total of about five minutes out of the entire six or seven hours I played this game, and I can't recommend it to anybody. I do, however, want EA to revive the concept and the Imperfect characters and try to fix this, because there's something good waiting to be polished out. Unfortunately, this is not good. It's not utterly dreadful, but it's pretty damn close. Even a four would be too much praise. Three out of ten for you, Nemesis, you piece of shit. Where the hell'd I put Utimate Alliance? I need to wash the taste out before it becomes permanent...

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