Say what you like about Joseph Stalin. He may have led an autocratic, brutal regime enacted through a climate of suspicion, distrust and terror - but at least his upsettingly long reign as chief Soviet despot engendered an art style that was quite eye-catching.
But not really. By the time the moustachioed twat had his big evil boots firmly under the Soviet red carpet, constructivism was dead. So dead that in 1932, Stalin decreed that socialist realism should be the 'in-thing' for law-abiding communists, and much of the striking fists in the air and sharp edged images of people-power was consigned to the history-erasing department.
Which is a shame, because it means that the art style of this fundamentally mundane and depressing shooter is based on a misrepresentation of history.
Hardly crime of the century to be fair (Stalin himself would have had dibs on that if it wasn't for that Mr Hitler), but still a minor footnote on a list of flaws that, to be honest, you can guess already.
Dated linear shootery. Rubbish floaty weapons. Enemies with no AI bar the ability to spawn round a corner, squawk and run at you head-on. Awful translation. A skill requirement of zero suddenly becomes a bullet landslide. Level design so formulaic it could have been created by a Travelodge architect. The list goes on and on...
Yes, the art design is nice. Occasional inter-level FMV sequences are striking - even vaguely captivating. A genial mixture of the absurd (giant mutant chickens) mixes happily with traditional Ruskie imagery, but this is a game that looks and feels like it should have been released at the very advent of (gasp!) in-game physics and ragdolls. And, for a game that feels like I should have been playing it four years ago, dear lord the load times and occasional engine chug are irritating.
So yes, while the look of a few enemies and the forever winding and mysteriously blocked off streets of Stalin-ville may rest easy on the eye, this is one for your digital download habit to consciously avoid. The glass isn't 'half empty', it isn't even 'not full'. It's a soundless, hateful asphyxiating void.
Ivan the terrible
- Looks OK, good cut-scenes
- Ropey, slow-paced gameplay
- Dull as dishwater enemies
- Environments repeated ad infinitum
- Should have been released years ago