I have dreamed of being a surgeon since I was a little kid. Not the realistic kind, the ones you see in television shows. Like the lovable scamp Hawkeye Pierce from M.A.S.H, the witty and often maudlin meatball surgeon stuck in a harsh war. My dream was realized after the Trauma Center games exploded onto the scene. It had all of the tension of working on a dying patient that I needed, without all of the arterial spray splashing into my eyeballs. Surgeon Simulator 2013 trumps this by adding in your face gore, and placing the operation fully into your control.
If you thought it was hard to be a surgeon in the real world, try being one with only one hand and no assistance. It takes thirty minutes before the arm of the surgeon stops flailing about like a wet fish. Even after getting a handle on the wobbly inaccurate arm, it’s still fairly hard to get a grip on a medical tool and use it correctly. Get used to restarting missions due to blunders mostly outside of your control. Succeeding in a surgery is a matter of anger inducing experimentation.
No matter what you do, it’s going to be wrong until you can figure that only one – out of many bladed tools will actually slice an aorta. If you do make that genius discovery by stabbing a man with as many surgical instruments as possible, you can fumble fingers about the insides of the patient to pull free an organ or two. After finally tossing body parts all over the room, you can throw in the transplanted piece and proceed to the next level. Starting the next mission starts the journey all over again in a similar fashion, and unless you’re playing this like a wacky YouTube video… you’ll start to see this title as an iPad game that made it to the PC. Attempting to play this title with any sort of serious intentions is completely unwise.
The other option is to spend ten dollars of your money on a wacky game about blundering around knocking things off desks, and purposely or accidentally driving a drill into the exposed heart of a sleeping man. The graphics are bland but the physics are notable, and they can do some zany things without much coercion. Surgeon Simulator 2013 receives a D+ from Geek Citadel. I understand that the title was made as a joke, but the morbid laughs wear out within an hour, and we’re left wondering where’s the beef?
You are living a normal life, sipping on your delectable coffee, and BAM a speed car runs you down. Before your body can hit the pavement, the world has shifted into a hellish maze. Welcome to God Mode a challenge arena for the descendants of exiled deities of Mount Olympus. Four challengers head into five different mazes to take down demonic waves of enemies in hopes of earning glory and gold. Don’t expect any sort of camaraderie either, this isn’t a test of teamwork, it’s a test of greed and power.
It’s you against the world in God Mode, so set your sights on an enemy and run it down with a hail of bullets. It’s impossible to earn experience points by “tagging” an enemy with a gunshot. No matter the amount of damage done to the foe, if you do not get the killing blow, all that hard work diverts to someone else. Experience points allow players to unlock new gear and weapons, but only gold will make them available for use. The weapon selection is sparse but each weapon can be upgraded for more damage and ammo. The outfits on the other hand, do not alter much outside of adding a bandolier, a wacky face, or bulky shoulder plates. The challengers can also use special skills after building a rage meter, like a defense shield or a healing aura.
Combat is your standard fare third-person shooter. It’s clunky but adaptable after playing a couple of mazes. You cannot use cover like in most titles, instead players will utilize a slow and heavy roll to avoid incoming damage. It’s not a captivating system, but it works for the basic design of the combat. Players can pick up health, coins, ammo, and armor scattered around the stage. Each maze activates a random event that changes the dynamic of combat. In one section players will fling off unlimited bullets, in the next they will lose the ability to obtain item pickups, or instead face off against combatants wearing funny hats. The unpredictability of these events adds a bit of excitement to an otherwise basic shooter.
If anything, the presentation of God Mode is its strongest selling point. The visuals are not gorgeous, but they are slick, crisp, and clean. Large abominations loom in the backdrops, buildings explode and crumble, and luminescent sparks crackle from spells and explosions. It’s too bad that all the happenings on-screen can bog down the frame-rate, and reveal ugly bugs that can destroy an entire run. The sound design combines a jumble of roars and gunshots, and an often-nauseating commentator that wears out his welcome very early.
God Mode is a run-of-the-mill shooter that has very few distinctions that separate it from similar titles. The Horde mode aspect is done better as an extra multi-player mode in fully realized licenses. For a game designed around the feature it stands at half-mast with its approach. God Mode receives a C- from Geek Citadel. This incredibly simplified shooter about gods is as mortal as it gets.
Xeno Clash II has one of the most confusing stories that I’ve ever witnessed. A giant bird creature named “Father-Mother” earns itself a place in jail for kidnapping children from their homes. Ghat and Rimat are the children of Father-Mother, and they are not taking too kindly to their parent’s lock-up. They break into prison to free it from the grips of the Golem – a creature that wishes to bring law and order to the savage inhabitants of Zenzoik. Ghat and Rimat want to protect Father-Mother, and find a way to take down the Golem.
It’s strange to be on the opposite side of something I’ve always considered to be wrong. Chucking someone in prison for kidnapping kids always felt like a no-brainer to me. Ghat and Rimat have been in Father-Mother’s care for a long time, and it’s understandable that they’ve grown attached to her. In all rights, the Golem wants what is best for them, but he is forcing them to adhere to his beliefs instead of letting them make the choice.
The heavy themes of the storyline could be appreciated better if the voice work was anything but ineffectual. Ghat is tolerable but the rest of the cast forgot how to express their emotions properly. Rimat is the worst of the offenders, because it sounds like she’s reading the script for the first time through a hollow can. It’s a shame too, because as much as I appreciate what the story is trying to do, the characters involved just don’t give a damn.
Zenozoik carries a beauty about it that one could only describe as “peculiar”. It’s a beautiful realm filled with the twisted splicing of humanoid and animal. Halstedom is a large slum style city held up by brick and mortar and decorated in the skulls of the dead. It’s just one of the bizarre paradises that make up the unconventional setting of Xeno Clash 2. The orchestrated music rises with the crashing of fist on flesh, but I had to turn it down a notch to hear some of the softer-spoken characters speak.
Combat takes the form of a first-person brawler. It’s similar to beat-em ups, but it takes a ton more skill to actually play it. Smashing on the buttons in hopes of a vicious knockout is a fool’s gamble. The enemy A.I. will dodge rampant blows and leave Ghat or Rimat breathless. Throwing punches and kicks takes a percentage of the stamina bar, and the more devastating the ability the bigger the chunk. Learning to bob and weave, block, and deflect blows are the keys to victory. Enemies will also move to surround our heroes, so they can’t stand around waiting for a solo attack like a Bruce Lee movie. They don’t care if a fight is already in progress, they will attack whenever they are in range. Therefore, it’s up to you to control the tide of combat and knock them off their guard.
It’s key to learn the nuances of the combat system. Timing a dodge after an enemy attacks and piling on a combo while they are exposed is a delight. The movement may not be smooth like silk, but you can avoid blows and barreling elephant men with ease. I would have preferred more kicks to the repertoire but the available moves serve their purpose. Weapons are available in clam chests or if removed from the grip of a felled foe. They pack quite a punch and range from strange bone guns, to skull pulverizing hammers. Since the title is designed around melee, the weapons run out of ammo or break after a small amount of uses, so they are only beneficial against stronger opponents.
A rudimentary system is in place that allows Ghat and Rimat to upgrade their skills. You do not earn skill points from fighting, but from random skulls hidden in various locations. Regardless of how you earn them, they can upgrade stamina, strength, and even leadership abilities. Since I am sure that, everyone is familiar with strength, stamina, and the like. I’ll explain the meaning of leadership. Leadership allows Ghat or Rimat to convince other fighters to ally with them against a common foe. The higher the leadership skill Ghat has, the greater the chance at picking up a powerful comrade for tougher battles.
Combat is the major selling point of the title, it’s an incredibly intense experience that emphasizes a unique gameplay style. The story weighs on your personal beliefs as a human, but it also makes you sympathize with the Ghat and Rimat who clearly have Stockholm syndrome. It’s just a shame that the voice over ruins what the story it’s trying to convey.
On the other side of the spectrum, this title features full on cooperative combat from start to finish. Although, I cannot really attest to how playable it is, because no one else would play with me for long on the test server. Despite that, Zeno Clash II receives a C+ from Geek Citadel, this title has an exciting albeit stiff fighting system, but the weak actor performance flattens an otherwise intriguing storyline.
*Each of these games were provided to us for review by the Publisher.