Warp : Review
Warp Proves That Great Things Can Come In Small Packages.
Make no mistake about it, Steven Spielberg is a great film maker. Sure, he’s made his fair share of clunkers over the past ten years, but when he was at the peak of his powers “The Beard” was a creative force to be reckoned with. Take E.T. for example. E.T. should be dreadful. A story of a young boy who finds friendship in the form of a cute brown alien, if Spielberg made it today it would be dripping in vomit inducing saccharine and sentimentality. Thankfully E.T. was released in 1982, and while it is unapologetically sweet, it’s also expertly put together and exquisitely crafted. E.T. is a movie that proves there’s nothing wrong with wide eyed innocence and sheer loveliness every once in a while.
But imagine if during the production of this masterpiece Spielberg completely lost his mind, got rid of the boy, stuck the alien in a prison he had to fight his way out of, and filmed scene after scene of gratuitous violence where our little spaceman buddy decorated the walls with the blood of his enemies. No really. Try and picture that in your mind. Take a deep breath, clear all other thoughts, and focus on E.T.eviscerating badguys and playing dress up with their intestines.
You there yet? Good. Welcome to Warp.
Warp is one of those games that sneaks up on you.On first impressions it seems quite fluffy and delicate. Its hero is a tiny translucent alien named Zero, who has big round yellow eyes and lollops across the screen like Idiot Sonic. Unfortunately for Zero he’s been banged up in a government facility buried deep in the ocean, and is being experimented on by a bunch of beastly scientists. Nevertheless a freak set of circumstances allow Zero to get loose, and the playermust guide this helpless deadbeat by navigating him around various maps and solving the odd brain teaser here and there, all while avoiding the bullets of patrolling guards. “Awww”, you’ll say to yourself. “Let’s save that fragile little thing before those mean bullies get to him”.
Before long though Warp displays a dark side that would make Hannibal Lecter look like Rolf Harris. Thanks to some outer worldly powers that are unlocked as the game progresses, Zero is not so much a harmless pudding as a lethal killing machine that delights in disposing of his victims in the most grotesque ways possible. For example, the first of these powers is the ability to “warp”, or teleport yourself over short distances Nightcrawler style. You can transport through walls, past laser beams, and in to barrels to avoid detection. More importantly however, you can also teleport in to any passing humans. Where, with a frantic wiggle of the left stick, you can then burst your way free in a shower of gore and body parts. It’s as if Zero is born from some ill-conceived love affair between Kirby and the MK2 version of Kitana. And anyone, from a trigger happy security officer to a cowardly white-coat wearing technician, is fair game for the splatter treatment(Luckily the cleaning staff seem to have been given the night off. Which is a relief. It’s one thing getting revenge on one’s tormentors. It’s quite another popping a janitor like a pimple just to see how far their guts will fly. Especially when you consider that a janitor’s job sucks enough as it is, without being blown up like a meat piñata by a lunatic from Alpha Centurion).
Despite, or maybe because of, its obsession with making a mess Warp is a thorough delight to play. While you could try to place a label on it, this top down romp is too frenetic to be a truly stealthy affair, and too action orientated to be a pure puzzler. Instead it combines elements of both, with a hearty sense of humour and a dash of unadulterated eccentricity along the way. And while the puzzles maybe a touch on the simplistic side early on, Warp’s instantly gratifying set pieces and breezy pace more than make up for it.
It’s a shame then that three poor decisions mar what otherwise would have been a five star experience. Firstly because of its 3D-but-not-really viewing angle, the controls can occasionally falter. Especially it seems when trying to pass through tight spaces, where warps will randomly stray and in a split second you’ll end up catching a bullet in your forehead. Secondly putting cut scenes after checkpoints is a schoolboy error, one that can only frustrate even the most patient of gamers. Thirdly the final boss battle is such a complete mess that it somehow manages to be far more frustrating and awkward in two minutes than anything else in the six hours’ worth of game time leading up to it.
Still for what it is Warp is a genuinely enjoyable carry on. Even its short length isn’t really an issue, as not only are there numerous challenge maps in which to test your skills, but you can also go back to the beginning and attempt to play through without killing anyone, therefore instantly adding another dimension to scenarios you already thought you had figured out. Which, if we’re honest, makes a refreshing change from bloated “epics” whose attempts at longevity simply involve “play this bit again, this time wearing a different coloured shirt”.
Instead Warp proves that great things can come in small packages. That is, as long as they don’t turn you in to sausage meat first.
Two metres high and rising. - Chaos Hour Writer
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