Child Of Eden – Review
Microsoft have seen the future, and it’s fucking covered in dust. Yep, the “use it for about two days unless you’ve got kids” Kinect peripheral is where they placed all of their E3 eggs, much to the chagrin of, you know, gamers and stuff. That said, if any game could make me consider buying Microsoft’s motion-sensing bullshit, it’d be a follow up to Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s synaesthesia-’em-up Rez. For the uninitiated among you, Rez was an on-rail shooter of sorts, where you journeyed into a colourful vector-based world (the infected computer network ‘Eden’), locking your reticule onto the various baddies within and releasing the fire button to destroy them.
Such simple gameplay probably wouldn’t have been as widely adored if it wasn’t for the jaw-dropping visuals and the brooding trance soundtrack, but Rez was also perfectly balanced in terms of gameplay. Easy to beat – much harder to master. A game you could play for score, or just for the journey. It was short, but it lingered in the memory long after its initial Dreamcast and PS2 release. Eventually Rez showed up in a high definition form on Xbox Live Arcade, and, thanks to all the virgins I sacrificed, that turned out to be the definitive edition. All the gameplay just as we remembered it, sharper graphics, and a heap of bonus modes. All for the sick low price of ten green queens? It’s either that or Call of Duty maps, and you don’t seem like an idiot to me, so do the right thing.
Child of Eden was announced by Mr Mizuguchi’s Q Entertainment (the studio behind Rez, Lumines, Every Extend Extra, and Meteos) last year as the spiritual successor to Rez. YAY! It would also be the leading light of the Kinect brand. BOOO! But totally playable with a standard joypad. YAY AGAIN!
Of course, being Japanese means that the plot is some bollocks about Rez’s Eden network being attacked by viruses again, during Project: Lumi – a sinister sounding attempt to upload the conciousness of Lumi, the first human born in space, into the network. Clearly these pricks never watched Battlestar: Galactica. Anyway, she’s in there, and everything’s gone a bit Windows Vista. Time to dive back into Eden and start shooting things.
From minimalist menu system to your first few seconds in Eden it is immediately clear that Child of Eden is a beautiful game. It mixes the same clean lines and intricate patterns of Rez, but with more of everything. More detail, more colour, more polygons. It all combines to truly stunning effect. A quick exploration of the game controls also reveals that this isn’t just the “spiritual” successor to Rez, but rather a full, bona fide sequel playing exactly the same as its predecessor, albeit with a couple of minor additions.
Firstly, there are now scoring bonuses for releasing your shots on the beat of the music, adding a layer of skill and strategy to the gameplay, and also there is now a secondary weapon – a purple laser thing, that has to be used to destroy certain enemies and projectiles. An unnecessary addition but not an offensive one. So, Rez fans will initially be cumming neon butterflies all over their chops. However, things soon take a turn for the worse, thanks to some design issues that make you think they favoured the art side of the “games as art” sub-genre when making Child of Eden.
Although the graphics are like liquid sex all up in your face, the level design of the game is sorely lacking compared to the first game. There’s nothing here as iconic as, say, the fourth boss of Rez, or the sublime ‘Fear is the Mindkiller’ fifth level. Levels in Child of Eden are a tad bland, overly long (at roughly ten minutes each), and all a bit easy. There are hard versions of each level but these tend to be pretty easy, until the boss comes and gives you a spanking. Quite annoying when you’ve just spent nine minutes comboing most of the level. Indeed, the only highlights tend to be the little nods to the original game that occasionally appear.
Then you’ve got the musical element – a great idea as an attempt to introduce a bit more depth to the Rez gameplay. Unfortunately there are issues here too. For one, the vibration on your controller doesn’t keep the beat and is more based on your shots, and occasionally it is hard to identify the beat on some parts of the music. Then you’ve got the music itself. A watered-down mash up of light trance and bullshit J-Pop. There’s none of the edge or menace of Rez, none of the coolness either. If you’re a fan of Japanese music and culture, you might like it. But just to be clear, I won’t be letting you babysit any kids I have in the future.
Possibly, and by “possibly” I mean “absolutely definitely” the worst aspect of the game, is the titular child of the game. Lumi is the lead singer of Mizuguchi’s virtual band, Genki Rockets, and whoever the actress is that is playing her (unless it’s a bit of quality CGI) spends far too much time turning up in the levels. It gets worse when she starts miming to the vocals in the soundtrack, especially at the end of the game, which is so offensively fucking lame that anyone who views it can no longer mock people for watching Glee. Rez was all about the AI and how it was characterised. Child of Eden just flings this Lumi tart at the screen, destroying all the subtlety as she does her bullshit X-Factor audition act.
As a full-price disc release you’d expect a lot of content, but oddly Child of Eden falls short when it comes to value for money too. The main game has just five levels, easily conquered by Rez fans in a couple of hours, and at ten minutes per level there’s not a whole lot of game here. Beating those five levels opens up a final sixth bonus level (one that doesn’t have any achievements or unlockables attached to it), but that’s about it when it comes to playable content. The only reason, aside from hitting score targets for achievements and the like, to replay any of the game is to unlock bonus content. Astonishingly, developers still think that people actually bother to view unlocked concept art. Oh well.Pros
- The most beautiful thing you've ever seen.
- Doesn't require Kinect to play it.
- Plays just like Rez but with a couple of additional tweaks.
- Mediocre level design.
- Lame music.
- Lumi stuff is bent as a can of chips.
- No real value for money.
If you've not played Rez, Child of Eden may astonish you with it's delicious visuals and original gameplay (well, original if Rez didn't exist). But if you haven't played Rez, save yourself twenty quid and just buy that instead. It's the better game and worth playing through first, if you are dead set on buying this one as well. You still have to admire Mizuguchi's vision though, and Child of Eden is by no means a bad game, but it just doesn't quite live up to expectations. And it has a fucking annoying girl mugging in front of the camera like a tit. Harrumph!
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