Reminiscent of what happened with the Wolf3d engine ... lots of garbage

User Rating: 5 | Zeno Clash PC
When I was in high school, and then in university, 3D engines of games like Wolf3d, Doom and Duke3D where all the rage, and every little dev would try to cash in on the craze by generating a unique and over the top game that used the new freedom of interacting with a 3D world.

In many ways this was releasing full conversion games that used the engine of the game, but were sold as "real" or full games. Now, many were released by real devs (I'm thinking Redneck Rampage, Shadow Warrior) and others just don't register as having been all that credible (Hurl, and that aweful one where you start with all but a baseball bat ... though there were of few of those weren't there?).

Zeno Clash harkens back to this proud tradition of using someone elses innovation (3D engine, in this case Valve's Source engine) and creating a world that's unique (here, read "stupid") combining it with cookie cutter hero 23 (tattoos and horned leg armor) and then changing the game mechanic from a shooter to something else (here brawler). Along the way you break whatever engine you were using, by 1) making it run like unoptimized crap (either through carelessness or because ... no carelessness of one kind or another), 2) breaking the interface by making interacting with the world hard / impossible and 3) not using it's particular feature set to great effect because you were busy on issue 1).

Zeno Clash has gotten some great reviews (IGN in particular made me get it), and well there might be a great game hiding in there somewhere ... but after playing the start (which isn't explained well at all) and some of the tutorials and hating the control interface I gave up.

On the positives, when the engine isn't running jerky and you are close enough to your enemy (blob at a distance over 5 paces) to see the detail the graphics are quite nice. Weapons and mechanics aren't terrible, though when my health is low and i want to pick the fruit that heals me while i'm being attacked and i just can't do it ... that bugs me.

I spent less than US$4 on the game. I don't regret this in a serious way, but it is still $4 I could have spent on something else. I try to tell me that vs an arcade where a game will cost $2 for like 5 minutes, this wasn't a bad investment / gamble ... but had I bothered to look up gamespot's 6.5 I probably would not have bought it.

Much is said about how a game with a 6 (out of ten) isn't necessarily a bad game, but it certainly isn't a good one. I feel my frustration at this title justifies the 5, though with more patience there might be more enjoyment there...