Playing it is like being depressed the fun way.
* Shameless game play (no common sense – it’s a good thing)
* Interesting level designs (farmyards, sprawling cities, rooftops exploration and that grand tower)
* Musical Scores
* The Broiler Chicken and the Zeppelin
* Incomplete (noticeable bugs)
* Poor collision detection
* Weak weapons damage
* Pace (a little slow)
I don't know if it's just me however I got this recent fascination about dodgy Eastern Block games. I really shouldn't say dodgy as I feel it's more of a lack of cash flow than being dodgy. Nevertheless, some of these games are pretty much 'out of this world' as their imagination is something I had to admire.
This is the main purpose for me to play 'You are Empty'. Even the title speaks for itself as the publishers 1C Company (one of the largest independent Russian software developers and publishers) have made some other really cool unbiased games (e.g. Silent Storm, Soldiers: Heroes of World War II and IL-2 Sturmovik to name a few). And when I say unbiased I mean unbiased. No holding back here when it comes to practically ridiculing their past (i.e. Cold War Communism) to the fullest extend. I need to take my hat off to them as there is absolutely no shame nor fear when describing their troublesome past.
You are Empty reflects the ideal 'Power of Communism' to the next level. The story takes off as an alternate Soviet history by the end of the 1950s. The leaders in science and technology, R&D are in the process of creating the perfect people for the perfect society (similar to Hitler's idea for Germany). Well the 'hero', you, got yourself knocked over by a car and managed to escape the catastrophic experiment gone wrong as you discover that the once big city is now a mess-pot of lunatics among the rubble.
The entire game play feels eccentric. Never before I have seen such depressing environs that actually made me feel good. Detailed landscapes of this once great city is now littered with busted cars, trams, dead trees, peeling walls and whatever else and in the centre of all this is the anonymous tower with a great star on top of it. This creates a sense of atmospheric mystery as you trod your way towards discovering the ultimate truth. Clues lie about in the forms of letters and notepad scribbles and the astonishingly displayed cut scenes slowly reveals the story. Just think of Unreal when you first view the planet meets with the desolation of Half Life and you'll get the idea.
The graphics is a little outdated yet not enough to cringe in fear. Some of the features do look pleasing enough as many-a-times I caught myself just reading the propaganda posters littered about (and some are quite intriguing to say the least). Of course if you look carefully enough you can even spot the 'You Are Empty' cover slapped on among these propaganda posters (nice touch). The display of your health bar to the countryside of this once great city to that eerie Zeppelin to the grand 'Star Tower' (and that was a sight to admire) are well designed. I feel that because of the extensive details of the environments makes the graphics better than they actually appear.
Never have I encountered such a weird array of creatures. This will make David Lynch stand proud as you will encounter some of the strangest foes around. Think of being attacked by a 'Lenin Komsomol Hen' (a giant broiler chicken) or the Fireman who lights fires or the bazaar folded propeller welders et al. Try thinking of being 'saved' by the huge crotch Ballet-Dancer or being given instructions by the crossed-eye farmer named Kulibin. As I stated, there is no holding back from these Russians. The AI on the other hand are bordering on brain-dead. Rarely do they dodge or take cover however I bet you won't feel like yourself after what these guys just experienced.
The musical scores are haunting with the occasional 'industrial' beat. Such a great blend that I originally thought will not suit to this game however I shouldn't doubt these Russians. There are scattered about lone radios blaring the proud anthem of Mother Russia that will make you stand and sing along to the chorus. The sounds themselves are however a mixed bag. Most of them don't produce that 'oomph' (like the shotgun sounds) however I will guarantee that you will chuckle at the sounds of your foes tumbling down as it's pretty dynamic. The voice acting is quite poor as they tend to be out of sync with poor english. However this made the game more enjoyable than a turn-off.
This game however is far from perfect. There are bugs splashing about (like monsters peering through walls) and the collision detection is not quite there (like walking through metal chains). Normally I would end the game in disgust however because the game's overall bazaar nature I played until the end (twice). However this is not to say the bugs will be tolerated (and rightfully not) but I think the developers are the victims of over-production (3+ years).
You Are Empty can take between 10-20 hours (depending if you decided to go 'sight-seeing' like me). Another words, the length is pretty average as far as FPS goes and it does sports that easy, medium and hard difficulty levels. Overall the game is really not difficult to play as mentioned above, the AI are quite stupid. There is no multiplayer to speak off (can I hear 'Capture the Zeppelin'?) however grabbing the game for $5 you can't go wrong.
You may think that You Are Empty is a chromosome short of a picnic basket. That's not entirely true. A hysterical blend of 1984 meets David lynch is probably best describe the game. I'm going to admit that I probably do not have the best taste in PC gaming however I really don't care. If I enjoy it, I will say so. I enjoy the bazaar, the weird and the unusual. Heck, that's one of the reasons why PC gaming is great. It's great because it's a reality that you'll never experience and I'll tell ya that You Are Empty is a game that you'll never experience again (for the good or bad?).