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The Scorpion King: Rise of the Akkadian
Review By:  Christopher Coey
Developer:  Point of View
Publisher:  Universal Interactive
# of Players:  1
Genre:  Action
ESRB:  Teen
Online:  No
Accessories:  Memory Card
Date Posted:  10-29-02

I got a real kick out of the Mummy movies (I actually bought the SE: DVD), and I even saw The Scorpion King in the theatre opening week. I am by no means a wrestling fan, but I donít mind The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) who plays Mathayus, The Scorpion King himself. Surrounded by a bunch of guys on a daily basis who are basically monosyllabic morons, heís not that bad of an actor. He needs some work, but Iíd go see The Scorpion King 2 if they plan on making one (and Iíd put money on it that they will.) In this game however, with its crappy cut-scenes and generally awful voice acting, The Rock comes across as the best actor of the bunch. At least his character is supposed to be a brute.

The game contains nearly every problem imaginable. Let me list just a few: First thereís draw through. Nearly every character, when they hit the ground, actually enters the ground before they stand up again. During death animations, the action temporarily stops as the slain enemy goes through an elaborate death sequence, then promptly falls to the ground, and collapses through another character. Enemies often spawn within walls, then walk out through them. Most characters and objects have a severely low polygon count. The camera control is messy, often forcing itself in a less than tactical position.

Of all the glitches, errors, and gameplay issues, the biggest problem with this game is the utter lack of anything interesting. Itís a hackíníslash with little variation, and even less imagination. When the game does attempt to deviate from the standard, it usually involves platform type levels. Big mistake to include these. The controls are so bad, I donít know if I could describe them properly. Therefore, even the jumping part of the platform levels become ludicrous, not to mention attacking. Now that Iíve mentioned attacking: the collision and hit detection is way off as well.

I always get suspicious whenever a game tracks anything. If, for instance, a game keeps a running total of the number of kills Iíve had, or game time, I assume it means something, and Iím going to be rewarded for it one way or another in the end. This game tracks Ďnumber of savesí, but there doesnít seems to be any reason for it. And quite frankly I never really cared. There are a ton of things to unlock, but itís only a collection of stills, cut-scenes (which weíve already seen while playing the game), and concept art. And they all unlock through collecting blood rubies scattered throughout the levels. If you plan on trying to collect them all, do it early (there are more than 300 of them.) Or plan on replaying the game, because you canít jump to levels or go back to earlier ones. There are no multiple paths, or control over the plot. You simply enter a room, clear the enemies, go to the next room, clear the enemies, go to the next roomÖyou get the picture. The only interruption is the occasional platform level already mentioned, or a lame cut-scene.

The cut-scenes tell a story that really isnít all that bad, if maybe a little outlandish. The animation has that weird Ďpolygon characters who are always shakyí quality. Iím not sure where this comes from but Iíve seen it before. Makes it look like all the characters have Parkinsonís. The in-game graphics are not much better. There are no Ďbells and whistlesí. No particle effects, the lighting is very minimalist. If it rains in a level, there are no splash effects. Then there are really sloppy things like, if you pick up a jar and throw it, the rubble appears wherever the jar breaks, but a wisp of dust plumbs up from wherever you originally picked up the jar. Thatís terrible programming.

The enemy AI is also inexcusable. If you knock over a torch holder and light the ground on fire, then stand in front of the fire, the oncoming enemies will walk INTO the fire. They will continue to walk into the fire, taking damage, until the fire goes out. Occasionally you will encounter an enemy who attempts to run away from you. Again, the awful control scheme makes it really difficult to catch and hit them once they start running away. In general though, the "room enemies" (not including the bosses) pose next to no challenge. Mostly due to the fact that there seems to be a limit of 4 enemies present on any level at any one time.

So what is good about this game? Well, as I said, the story is interesting. Itís a prequel of sorts to the movie. The settings are mostly well done, with good consistency throughout. Music is fair, with good use of the only licensed song (no given credit in the manual, and I donít generally listen to metal, so I canít name the song.) If youíre into a good hackíemíup, with no need for your brainÖwell, some gamers enjoy that sort of thing.

Lately I have been under-appreciating many of the games Iíve been playing. I guess when you get up into the numbers that I have, you start to notice too many similarities, and too few innovations. I was being overly harsh on games that were in fact really good. The problem was that I was mostly playing only quality games. This is not one of them. At best this is a rental. It should be a budget title, and I mean low budget.

HIGHS:

  • Entertaining license and storyline
  • Lots of stuff to unlock, if you really want to
  • Good overall length

LOWS:

  • Tons of glitches, draw-through, etc.
  • Enemy A.I. is atrocious
  • No innovation of any kind

FINAL VERDICT:

Mindless fun? It certainly is mindless. There is nothing new here. Itís a much used, easy to churn out, genre that seems to exist only for companies to cash in on various licenses. No one would buy this game if it didnít have "The Scorpion King" in the title, or The Rock as a voice artist. Iím praying that the developers in charge of the Lord of the Rings licenses donít try to cash in as quickly, and with as little effort as this. If you find this game in the Ďusedí bin, or someone gives you a 75% off coupon, then you could maybe consider buying it. Otherwise, if youíre at all curious, you could do worse with a one-night rental. But not far worse.

Overall Score: 4.4

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