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9 Reviews

Rise of Nightmares

Boulevard of hokum screams

Page 2 of 3

We only found this out on our fifth attempt at trying to take on a room full of zombies, dehydrating as we pummelled each one in the face about 30 times only to be scratched to death by another coming in from the side.

Maybe it was because we were ready to kick Kinect against a wall by the time we realised there was a knife waiting in our blind spot, begging to be used if only we'd twist our shoulders just a little, but the weapons themselves do feel really satisfying to use.

While a knife offers vicious and effective stabbing, something larger like a machete or an ice saw can hack limbs and heads off of an encroaching stiff or split them down the middle if you get your angle right.

You can also perform a pretty chunky front kick (although we're not talking Bulletstorm here) by doing one yourself in real life. It doesn't do much damage but gives yourself some breathing space. It proves particularly useful at one point that has giant circular saws whipping across a room as zombies attack. You know what to do.

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The action element of Rise of Nightmares does work, then, which means our expectations are exceeded - but once you get over the wonder that this is a real, working action game on Kinect, you realise just how basic a game it is.

We'll forgive the tutorial train section for being utterly boring - you basically walk around opening doors and crouching under a dancing girl's legs because she won't get out of the way (you read that correctly). But the tech - and perhaps developers' apprehension when approaching it - makes it all too easy to make a laborious event out of the most basic game mechanics that would usually be a mere button press away.

To open a door in Rise of Nightmares, for example, you have to hold out your hand to 'Interact' with the handle, wait for the circle to fill in case it was a mistake and then make an opening gesture to actually push the thing.

KINECTIVE TISSUE
In total, this probably takes around ten seconds, which is fine at first - but after the third one in as many minutes you start to wonder why opening doors have been made to feel like such a novelty, and such an arduous process.

The game is basic in other design areas, too. You'll often be forced to find a key for a locked door, but it's never too far away. Our first came in a room where the only other object was a dead bloke in a chair. We barely needed to approach him before the Interact prompt popped up allowing Josh to find said key tied around his neck.

If you were offered such a simple solution by any other game you'd eject the disc and put it in a microwave, but in Rise of Nightmares you're quietly relieved because you can't bear the thought of having to actually search for a key with such little command of your legs.

It's hard to blame Sega in that sense, because the simplicity of design here is as much to do with our primitive position in the Kinect timeline as anything else. In a way, such rudimentary level design is a smart move - it's just not very fun.

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There's no excuse for the writing standard, though. As we take a key from a dead guy's neck, Josh correctly point out, "A key's a key. I'd better take it."

It gets worse. At one point, having being captured by a loopy doctor, we're forced to watch another man's hand axed off at the wrist. The victim, whose wrist is spewing out blood like Niagara, lets out a scream more fitting for a particularly bad paper cut, before managing to ask the burning question (and we're not joking here): "Why did you do that?"

Rise of Nightmares isn't a sophisticated game, then - it's closer to something from the arcades of the 1990s like House of the Dead - nor does it have anything more than a paper-thin story. Sadly, there's never enough time between its regular frustrations to really admire anything, or enjoy the shlock-fest like you did in HoTD and other similar titles.

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