Project Gert: Recon
December 23, 2012 58 Comments
Oh Lord. Where do I begin with this one? First off, how the FUCK is this chick not freezing to death?
If I tried stepping outside in 1/10th the amount of snow as that, my body would have said “fuck it, that’s it’s. This bitch is nuts, and now we’re going to die.” Then I would have died. And I would have deserved it. Even in the Tomb Raider movie that was designed primarily as an excuse to give teen gamers a less blocky representation of Lara Croft to jerk off to, they had the decency to bundle poor Angelina Jolie up when they filmed in the snow.
There’s exactly one good thing I can say about Project Gert: Recon. The paintings featured in the game’s cutscenes are beautiful. So at least one person involved in this project has an amazing talent. Seriously, watch the trailer below. The actual in-game graphics are spoiled by awful animation and piss-poor collision detection, but the paintings are spectacular. I would totally commission this guy to do a portrait. But that’s where any complements end. Project Gert is yet another December entrant to the “potential worst game of the year” category.
The idea behind Project Gert is it’s part platformer, part physics-puzzler. Neither part is done particularly well. The platforming sections are slippery. As mentioned above, the game is set in an ice world, and I have to wonder if that was done to excuse the poor control in this game. All movement is loose, to the point that you’ll inevitably slip off into pits and die. The funny part is, enemies are affected by this too. There were some machines on slopes that were slipping and sliding along with me. Actually, it’s not so funny, since a few times this led to cheap deaths where they would slide directly into me. And fighting back was sure an adventure unto itself. Collision detection is spotty as hell, so you practically have to be on top of an enemy to cause any damage to it. The line between where you can hit and enemy and where an enemy is hitting you is blurry, so I found just avoiding them seemed like the best strategy. Again, maybe the ice setting is the reason, and the poor girl is frozen numb and can’t properly swing a sword.
The main draw of Project Gert is supposed to be physics-based puzzles. The concept is “figure out a way to get a special block to sit on a special platform.” Solid idea. Shitty, glitchy physics. Once the special block starts moving, it slides like it’s sitting on a skateboard. Granted, the game has a habit of saying “good enough” when the block is barely on the platform and probably bound for falling off it. That’s generous of it, but sometimes it asks too much of the players, like a gas station offering 10¢ off a gallon but only if you siphon it by mouth. An example is requiring you to fire a stone to push a block one way, then resetting the crosshairs, lining it up, and firing it the other direction to push the block onto the special platform. Timing this is bad enough, but the physics for it are unstable and often it didn’t really push the block in the opposite direction. It just made it fall slower, which is remarkable considering how slow it was already going.
And then there’s the times when the game engine just said “fuck it” altogether. I would fail at a puzzle, restart it, and the blocks would not be stacked correctly. Once, a block was aligned too far to the right. This was one of those “fire the rock at it to move it” puzzles that presumably required pristine timing and placement, so having everything out of alignment from the start was aggravating. This happened more than once, and sometimes I couldn’t even restart the puzzle to get the blocks realigned properly. Or sometimes I would restart a puzzle and entire blocks would be missing. About the best thing I can say about the puzzle system here is that the game gives you the option to skip them. When being able to skip stuff in a game is the best thing it has going for it, it is a truly awful game indeed.
Besides the still paintings, there’s nothing here remotely appealing. Bad platforming. Bad puzzles. Boring setting. Terrible writing. Awful animation. Glitchy physics. It’s not quite as bad as Halloween Pie or Sententia, but it’s close. Quite frankly, I’ve never been happier to see a game crash and dump me back to the dashboard. Which this one did. It was right after I cleared a pit after finding out there was a flimsy wall-jump in the game, which isn’t mentioned at all during the tutorial. Once I got past that, I encountered another glitchy puzzle that I ended up skipping. An explosion animation went off and then the Code 4 screen appeared. At this point, I did the only thing I could do: jump out of my chair and scream “I don’t have to play Gert anymore! Hallelujah, it’s a Christmas miracle!”
80 Microsoft Points were so excited, they had to sing!
♫Hark the imperiled Gamer Chick sings:
Glory for the Code 4 screen!
Piece of shit that boils my bile.
Gert and physics won’t reconcile.
Joyless crap with cheap ways to die.
Puzzles can be skipped so why should I try?
Like Tom Selleck’s agent proclaimed:
It’s over dude, this shit is dead.♫
Um, in the making of this review.