Not even the most grandiose cabinets of yesterday could retain my interest for more than five minutes at a time, even if it did come equipped with pistol, rifle or machine gun. Light-gun games - be they reinvigorating the genre with Virtua Cop or redefining it with the pedal option of Time Crisis - were brief blasts of enjoyment that tipped quickly into repetitiveness.
Rise of Nightmares removes the plastic peripheral, but for all intents and purposes, through ambience, presentation and gameplay mechanics, is a heavy reminder of a genre I once thought had the last nail driven into its coffin years ago.
But this is Sega, the company that held sway over this arcade genre far longer than any competitor, seen by any of the last few arcades around the country still housing a House of the Dead cabinet, Jurassic Park or upgrading with a Let's Go Jungle - an attempt to bring some much needed variety to light-gun games. Ergo, it should be perfect for reinvention using motion sensors.
And the studio hasn't wasted the chance with Kinect, and offers several areas in which other developers should draw inspiration. By turning your body, you can look around in the first-person view, and stepping forward starts your character walking. Raise hands and they imitate the movement. All of which helps draw you into the experience.
A short playable intro teaches the basics and introduces you to THE setup; bad voice-acting, dank surroundings and lots of gore.
You play as tourist Josh, beginning the journey on a old Russian passenger train with his wife and carriages full of annoying personalities - perfect horror fodder and guaranteed for early death as per any horror staple.
Josh has obviously had his troubles with alcohol, and after a brief fight that has your wife wander off, you track her to the train's dining car, which is where hell begins to break loose. Kate's kidnapped by a hulking monster which rips the train guards to pieces, the train derails and you track towards a sinister-looking castle.
The hunt for Kate's obviously not much more than an excuse to let you kick seven shades out of a bunch of different monsters, replicating your punches and kicks on screen. However voracity is an illusion here; Kinect slamming fists into undead meat even if you're not lending any power or force to your arm movements.
You'll soon pick up weapons which add an extra degree of enjoyment to the experience, such as the mandatory power saw which makes short work of most enemies in one glorious meat explosion. The developer has tried to balance the powerful weapon set by giving each an on-screen damage meter- reach critical and they're useless. Unfortunately, this happens much too quickly. Only well into the game will you pick up a firearm that's not seemingly built from fine china; we'd have preferred to have this system balanced better in the player's favour.
The issue is prevalent throughout the game. Rise of Nightmares takes a few confident steps in the right direction, but stumbles all too often. Implementation of Kinect is both daring and sometimes remarkable; such as having to stand absolutely still to avoid detection by a monster. Yet enemy number is too often stacked against you, and due to blocking only defending from attack straight in front, you find you dissolve into awkward panic as blows - and projectile vomit - lands from all sides, and simple escape become a frustratingly laboured enterprise.
Visually the game's disappointing, surroundings and characters little improved from what its arcade brethren, a massive shame given just how stunning we know this could have looked. And there's a conflict as to whether the story is ironically lampooning the genre, or is in need of a overhaul; after decades of insane scientists and characterisation so dumb it'd make a brick look Oscar-worthy, its would have paid dividends to give us a tale worth investing our grey matter in.
Again, its a shame. The title is trying out new ideas for the hardware, but is crippled by dodgy camera controls and a lacklustre presentation. This should have been a horrible beauty that emboldened Kinect's presence. As it is, it's barely a passable B-movie experience, and one only the most ravenous Kinect owners should buy.
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