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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

24 The Game - Retrospective

This game will go down in infamy alongside Super Mario Land 2 and 8 Eyes as "games that have caused physical damage to my property." Super Mario Land 2 cost me a Game Boy and 8 Eyes cost me an entire laptop hard drive. 24: The Game cost me... A frying pan.

The game can be described in 2 words: Frustratingly addictive. Or maybe addictively frustrating. Missions run the gamut in length from 3 to 25 minutes, so they don't take that much investment to play through... If you're lucky. If not, you will find yourself staring down the exact same mission over and over, each time wanting the last 5 minutes of your life back. You forget everything else, including pots of water boiling on the stove, because you can't let the game win like that. This game will suck out your soul and force you to go through hell in order to get it back.

As a fan of the series, I figured this game was a must-play. In a way, it is, because the story presentation is very well done. In fact, everything that isn't an action sequence is a fun distraction, but the on-foot and driving missions are mediocre at best, and unplayably annoying at worst. The controls are a mess, with completely different context-sensitive actions sharing the same button. If you're standing a few inches off the mark, you'll end up punching a surrendered assailant instead of checking a dead body for ammo, and thus hurting your mission percentage.

24 does do a few things right. The lock on system feels very natural for a third person shooter and makes it easy to pinpoint your weapon and go for the headshot, but switching targets is unresponsive, like all the other controls. The hacking and computer simulation missions are an enjoyable departure, and the interrogation missions are probably the best parts of the game. But these oases are few and far between in a desolately mediocre desert.

24 is not a terrible game, but it is terribly mediocre. The highs and lows of the game average out to a fairly unremarkable playthrough. As a third person shooter, it has almost no staying power. The only way I can reccommend this game is if you're a hardcore 24 fan and you have the patience of a saint.

The Good:
  • Storyline by the actual show's writers and cutscenes done in the show's style truly sell the game as part of 24 canon
  • Voiceovers by the actual 24 cast.
  • Computer scanning minigames and interrogation missions are fun, albiet brief.

The Bad:
  • Crippled and unresponsive controls make playthrough needlessly frustrating.
  • Mission objectives are often unclear, forcing the player to rely on trial-and-error in order to complete them.

Defining Moment:
  • The game says "Your car is on fire, press Δ to exit" but your passenger says "Don't leave me, please!"

Burning Question:
  • See January 12, 2009

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