Rengoku: Tower of Purgatory
Robots. Robots are cool. So cool that theyíre almost as cool as ninjas, so anything dealing with robots must be cool by default. Thatís just the way of the world and if you canít accept that, then youíre just wrong, because everyone knows that robots are awesome.
Just donít bring up Rengoku because for the first time in history, something has made me not want to be a robot.
Throughout modern entertainment, ever since Hanna-Barbera brought us ďThe JetsonsĒ and Irwin Allan got us ďLost in Space,Ē robots have always been awesome. There is something cool about all those number-crunching robots that worked hard while George loafed around at the office and the incredible abilities of The Robot to save the day for the Robinson family were always impressive. Robots have continued to capture our imaginations ever since, with shows like ďFuturamaĒ and movies like ďI, RobotĒ exploring new dimensions of robots. Me personally, I always wished I had their mental, physical, and babe-attracting capabilities. Since I donít, Iím left to only imagine that I do. I get stared at a lot in public…
Rengoku puts you into the role of a robot. It starts of really strongly too. You play as the Grim, a robot built for combat by humans tired of doing the fighting themselves. Grim is an A.D.A.M, a highly specialized model of robot responsible for eliminating all the other robots in the world. Since the humans that controlled them no longer had any use for their skills, they locked all of them up in Purgatory, a tower where they would do battle as a form of entertainment. Naturally, something goes wrong: one of the robots becomes self-aware. Thatís you.
The storyline is cool. Iíll give them credit on that. Itís just a shame about the gameplay. Rengoku is easily one of the stiffest, slowest action games Iíve ever played and Iíve played lots and lots of action games. For some reason or another, the developers responsible for unleashing Rengoku onto the world decided that gamers wouldnít want to use the PSPís really nifty analog nub and instead set all controls to the D-Pad. You donít get the option to even set the controls to the D-Pad either, so one of the best control mechanisms ever to be placed onto a handheld system is instead used for a camera that never needs to be manipulated.
Now, thatís not the only flaw. Iíve put up with poor control schemes before. The next problem on this long list stems from what promised to be Rengokuís best feature: randomized levels. Yes, each level is randomized every time you play it. Itís just too bad the objectives never are. And whatís your goal on nearly every floor? Eliminate every foe to unlock the door and move to the next room where youíll do the same thing. This gets boring very fast.
To alleviate some of this boredom, the developers included an overwhelming amount of weapons that can all be equipped to various parts of Grim. Itís incredible that they even managed to screw this feature up. Youíll collect lots and lots of things from different enemies throughout the game, but you can only equip them at special terminals. So when you run out of ammo in whatever youíre using, that item becomes useless to you until you can get to the next terminal to install your upgrades at which becomes a major pain and can lead to lots of backtracking. This is made worse by frequent, short loading which is possibly more irritating than having to backtrack.
Now, put this all together with a game that is no more advance than a simple hack-and-slash and you have a very boring game. Even a couple of great cinematics and a very impressive opening score canít save this mess of a game. But the few great cinematics are coupled with an unimpressive graphics engine that is a lot of the same dull colors with lots of repetitive enemy designs and the rousing opening score is married to generic rock music.
Hereís how Rengoku works: take something cool and mess it up. Itís that simple. They took robots and they made them boring and stupid. They took the incredible promise of randomized levels and forgot to make them look any different from one another. They created great opening cinematics and included a bland graphics engine. The list, sadly, goes on. But Iíve ripped apart this game enough. Avoid Rengoku and pick up Dead to Rights: Reckoning, which is also not a perfect game but is still a far better waste of your money than this mess. But hey, Iíd still like to be a robot, but now only for the babes.
Three out of ten