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The other day, I was standing in the middle of nowhere, minding my own business, and I got stuck. I just couldn’t move: I couldn’t crouch, I couldn’t jump, I couldn’t run, I couldn’t walk. I was certainly in a pickle. What could I do? I turned around to talk to my friends, but they were no help. I stood there, looking at them for assistance, but they just stood there with placid, hopeless expressions on their faces. At this point, I unloaded clip after clip of ammunition that I had into “my friends”, but apparently they were bulletproof, because even when I shot them in their exposed heads they didn’t die. The only option was suicide. I went into my incredibly deep pockets and searched for a grenade but found none. Indeed, I couldn’t even kill myself.

At this point, I turned Devastation off and let it sit for a while to think about what it had done.

Devastation is so cool it has Ninjas in it.

Devastation is another entry in a seemingly unending pile of PC FPS games that have found their way into my collection. Developed by Arush Entertainment, this urban-themed FPS game makes a few stabs at greatness but ultimately misses its mark by, oh, about a mile.

Once, we had these silly ideas about the future. We thought the future would be filled with flying cars and jetpacks and teleporters and aliens that would take us all over the galaxy. Now, video games have shown us how naive we were in our positive outlook. Video games have show us that the world is going to be controlled by evil multinational corporations or even more evil dictators that will suppress all of our rights. Devastation is another game that features a plot centered on the grim reality that we will certainly be faced with. At this point I think we should just give up on the whole idea of “progress” and settle with what we have before it’s too late.

Looks like the hotel guests in that helicopter will have to find somewhere else to stay.

Devastation opens up with a cutscene illustrating how bad society has gotten because Grathius, an evil corporation, has taken over (though, how they took over is really never explained, it just sort of happened one night I guess). The city streets are filled with abandoned cars and garbage litters every curb. We then see a doctor in a hospital handing a disc off to a female nurse right before a bunch of soldiers storm the building. But there is hope (as always) in the form of a young guy named Flynn that seriously looks exactly like the rapper Eminem: pasty, big nosed, and blonde (dirty white shirt as well). Following the doctors advice, the nurse runs to Flynn and they begin to rage against the machine.

Devastation’s biggest selling point is that it includes about a million different weapons. You can walk pick a bottle up off the ground and crack it over an enemy’s skull. You can also pick up pieces of lumber and break some faces with that as well. There are also guns of all sorts, including pistols which you can dual-wield, assault rifles, several shotguns, and a variety of other implements of death. Unlike in games like Halo and FarCry, which only let you carry a few weapons at a time, Flynn can hold his entire arsenal all the time (plus ammo). You never see where he stores his cache of weapons on his character model, so where he puts that giant piece of wood when he isn’t swinging it is anyone’s guess.

This guy’s been devastated.

You’ll utilize these weapons across twenty or so different levels. The game features a lot of different areas, including an asylum, lots of urban streets, and levels in Japan, but no matter where they’re set; all of the levels look pretty much the same. Flynn and his comrades go from area to area, which are connected by shoddy cutscenes marred by unconvincing, unenthusiastic voice work, fighting the same enemies over and over again (I think there were about four different enemies during the entire game). No matter what type of enemy they are though, they’re all mentally deficient. I killed several enemies with loud weapons without attracting the attention of soldiers who were just a few yards away.

To make up for this glaringly terrible AI, the developers saw fit to artificially inflate the amount of damage your enemies can inflict, so even if you’re careful expect to be walking around with about thirty health points for a good portion of the game. Flynn’s enemies aren’t the only ones that struggle with limited mental prowess: yes, his friends are also quite idiotic. At one point, two of my friendly characters were stuck because they were stubbornly trying to go through the same narrow corridor at the same time. After five minutes of issuing commands and shooting them (which again did nothing) I had to restart so I could get by and beat the mission. This is unacceptable to say the least.

Is that Bruce Campbell guarding that bridge?

Eventually, somewhere at about the halfway point in the game, the team discovers that Grathius has created a technology that allows for people who’ve died to be reborn, which explains their never-ending supply of enemies. Once this ridiculous technology is developed by your team, basically the game because a giant deathmatch against bots for the final levels. Your enemies will try to destroy your base and your objective is to try and destroy theirs. From this point on it doesn’t matter if you’re strategic or not because dying no longer means anything.

Devastation has an impressive physics engine but there is no use for it in this game because there any levels that demand you use it. Devastation also has an impressive graphics engine, but for some reason halfway through the game I had to lower my resolution because the game decided it didn’t want to run properly anymore, even though nothing had changed. One time, a character was talking to me, but her mouth wasn’t even moving, even though her head and arms were making talking motions. There are a few tunes to accompany you along your journey but they’re few and far between and practically inaudible. The voice acting, as previously mentioned, was awful.

“Hey you there! Get up off the floor!”

The other day, I was trying to get down a ladder, but there was a girl standing at the bottom. She was trying to climb the ladder, but she was facing the wrong direction and wasn’t going anywhere. I needed to get down it, but I couldn’t. I stood on her head for a while and tried to get through, but she wasn’t having it. She just stood there; doing what almost looked like a dance, pretending to climb an invisible ladder like a mime. I did everything I could (yelled at her and shot at her), but she just continued to do her creepy mime dance.

It was at this point when I turned Devastation off and promptly uninstalled the game.

2 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in February 2003.

Gentle persuasion

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