Horrendum Recordatus Somnii – War of the Worlds Review
This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360.
If you have any iota of nerd in you, you’ve at least heard H.G. Wells’ name. And if you’re a sci-fi fan, then you’ve seen the 1953 movie War of the Worlds at least once. It is arguably one of the greatest science fiction writings ever known, and one of the most adapted. Hell, its radio broadcast adaptation in 1938 panicked thousands of people, causing them to flee their homes. Now, over 100 years after its publication, it’s finally landed on the Xbox 360.
Other Ocean’s adaptation of War of the Worlds takes some of the greatest elements of the novel and places it in the 1950’s timeframe of the movie to create a truly spectacular experience. War of the Worlds is about an unnamed gentleman seeking out his wife and brother in the city of London as it is being overrun by creatures from Mars. The unnamed man (played by none other than Sir Patrick Stewart) narrates the story as you move along in this side-scrolling platformer. The control scheme and gameplay is similar to that of the highly popular Limbo, in that your basic moves are to run and jump. You use no weapons, rather, evading enemies whenever possible, while solving puzzles and avoiding traps to progress further in the game.
War of the Worlds draws you into the story with beautifully detailed environments, a dynamic camera that zooms in or out to provide tension and suspense, and plenty of action happening all around you. As you run through the streets of London, you’ll have to avoid the likes of alien mines, seeker drones, and spider-like creatures that will leap on you and devour you alive. The attention to detail in this game is simply stunning. When a bystander is shot with a heat ray, the body glows white, then red, their exterior fading to reveal their skeleton before vanishing altogether. Debris blows by you, as giant walkers (with only the bottoms of their legs visible) begin powering up and prepare to carpet the streets with their death rays or simply pluck you from the ground with their tendrils. As cars fly through the air breaking down barriers, one could sit and admire the chaos and devastation for quite some time if they weren’t so busy running for their lives.
Even during the few moments of solace, danger lurks around every corner. As you creep through abandoned tenements into warehouses, alien creatures prowl through the halls, running you down if you’re spotted. Your only defense is to either wriggle them off of you to throw them into a fire, or drop something heavy on them from above. These moments are brief respite when compared to the intensity that makes your heart race while you’re running through the streets or across rooftops to evade the giant walkers as they rain destruction all around you.
Gameplay is simple and solid, with controls being very responsive to your actions. They have to be, of course, because the game is at times very demanding of the player. You’ll find yourself in situations where you will have to multitask. At one point you’ll find yourself on top of a walker, trying to dodge moving rings that blast short bursts of energy that can vaporize you, while at the same time escaping the searchlights of the drones overhead. Much like Limbo, memorization and quick reflexes will be needed if you’re to progress through the full game.
War of the Worlds is a game that really brings to life the essence of H.G. Welles’ writings. Every moment is full of tension, excitement, and terror that could only be found in the classic novel. It provides a good challenge to players who enjoy these types of side-scrolling platformers, and provides an entertaining experience to fans of the sci-fi/horror genre. For just 800 Microsoft Points ($10 USD), this game is an Xbox Live Arcade essential!
War of the Worlds receives a 5/5.
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