|Jhoh "Creexul" Cable 7/19/2004 |
As it is, a troubleshooting guide might be more helpful than any review, but since Shiny doesn't exist anymore and I don't even know what the fuck is going on with Interplay, there actually isn't a site for Messiah. I used the Wayback thing to find a troubleshooting guide, but you know what, it wouldn't even help anymore.
|The premise is that you can jump into any body in the game, which is a great idea, and it's fun. Check it out, I'm inside a rat, overhead view, crawling through tunnels and over some weird lava through a little puzzle. I'm kind of hard to see, because I'm a rat! ^_^ Then afterwards I jump out of the rat and into some dude with a gun, and war breaks out and such. |
Interplay and Shiny games always smack of "extremely ambitious bargain bin failures," the kind of games where, after a few years, they seem like they could be made as free mods for much bigger modern PC games. It probably has to do with the promise of a story, followed immediately by the story being dictated by lots of text popping up on the screen for a few seconds, while characters wiggle around randomly (to imply that they are standing around and/or talking). Like someone would do for a really good Quake 2 mod. I guess Shiny was in the wrong business. You know. Getting paid for their work.
Sometimes a buggy game gets cured by time, because the future brings more advanced systems that can handle stuff like memory leaks and so on. Crimson Skies is a good example. But then again, the memory leaks were fixed by patches. So I guess it isn't a good example. I just brought it up for no reason. :(
But like Crimson Skies, Messiah is a game with some cool play mechanics. Except it's more like one cool play mechanic. Which is cool. For some reason this game was hyped for its "amazing" graphics engine, which would swap polygons in and out of character models at any instant, to keep frame rates handled. I guess their intentions were honorable, but games don't really do this anymore, at least not on this scale. When it comes to large dynamic loading worlds, like Far Cry, Battlefield Vietnam, or even the GTA3+ games, you couldn't possibly show all that world on the screen at once. Messiah barely had shit on the screen at once, though. So what's the point. Spare everyone the low minimum requirements and just make a solid engine for a change.
The upside is that the lowest poly models could be easily reused in Sacrifice. Which wasn't a bad game.
In fact, Messiah isn't a bad game. Apparently it was overhyped, the IGN review actually mentions an "infamous" preview (I guess that means it was a blowjob piece that made the game impossible to live up to) by some current editor in chief. And this review was in like 2000. The preview was in 98. So the game was in the works for like three years, and then they just threw their hands up and dumped the game out there to be done with it. The game reeks of it.
The premise is that you can jump into any body in the game, which is a great idea, and it's fun. Check it out, I'm inside a rat, overhead view, crawling through tunnels and over some weird lava through a little puzzle. I'm kind of hard to see, because I'm a rat! ^_^ Then afterwards I jump out of the rat and into some dude with a gun, and war breaks out and such.
This game actually created one of the most fun ways of taking out a squad of bad guys (or just people who are generally hostile towards you for whatever reason). Jump in a body, get everyone to start shooting at you, and then when they kill your host, you jump out and land in some other body, then keep juggling yourself throughout bodies until there's one left, and then you take that dude, pick up a gun, and move on.
|After this hot chick (the commander class of possessable being) got out of the shower, I took over her body and opened some security doors, then got her blasted to ribbons by the cops. |
This game is tons of fun to be sadistic in. Games that don't punish you for being an inhuman scumfuck are what gaming is all about really. I mean it can quickload you if you shoot your "human keycard" in the face, and say "I'M A HORRIBLE PERSON," and that's fine. As long as it doesn't take away a life, or delete your save files or whatever. Like certain gay arcade games from a certain country might do. Not that there's anything wrong with that. :(
Anyway, I remember one level where I'd hit the "call worker dude" button, because I killed all the workers in the area. So a guy comes in, and he's like, "well hello there! ^_^ I will do whatever work you are expecting me to do, then I will get home to my wife and 6 kids, and my mother who is staying with us because she is on a wonderful happy vacation!" And then I let rip with a flamethrower, and he's like OH GOD WHY, NO, HELP, HOW CAN YOU, I'M BLIND HELP I CAN'T SEE and he's running around and screaming and throwing himself on the ground and rolling and then he gets up while smoke puffs fly off of him and slowly staggers forward. Then he drops dead, and not even a second later a littler "cleaner" bot comes up and vaporizes the corpse. It wouldn't do anything while I was brutally murdering this guy, but as soon as it's all over, the bot jumps into its job with a purpose. Which is apparently to rob any possible shred of dignity this guy's death could ever hope to contain.
For some reason, this crazy "original groundbreaking" engine uses tons of animated gif-like picture things, to create lots of tiny movie like animations throughout the game. More than possibly necessary, in fact. It's effective in creating TV screen like clips on things. It's just weird though. It looks like Half-Life 2 will finally get around to replacing this totally outdated idea with something more logical and stuff: having the actual polygon engine stuff show up on TVs. This isn't exactly new, but it doesn't seem used often except for some old PS2 sports games and shit, and just for a background effect, instead of say actually showing a TV show. Fuck, Max Payne 2 had tons of TV shows in the game, and none of them used polygons, they were all textures that slowly moved from one still frame to the next. WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS SHIT.
|Here is me in the woman's body, hanging around with some palz. Now this is a good idea of what stealth in a game SHOULD be. They have no clue that I'm not them. The downside is that there's really no interaction with these people in the game. If you bump them they say "don't bump me." That's basically it. After playing this game long enough, you get used to a big con right next to every pro. |
|I'll just stay back here and let these two warring groups of chots vs cops settle their differences. Then move in on whoever's left and blast them into shreds. Or, more fun, possess them, then jump them off a cliff or into lava, and leap my little angel dude out their backs just as they fall to their death and scream and scream and I laugh. There's actually a puzzle in the game where you have to possess some guys and jump their bodies into a big grinder to be "recycled," filling up a recycling bin (of humans, apparently, OOOOO HOW DYSTOPIC). Again, the little bit of downside to that is that your goal is to turn the big recycle bin vat essentially into a giant glass crate (filled with blood) that you jump on to get to a higher area to hit a switch to open a door leading to a jumping puzzle. Which leads to our next big bummer.|
|You can possess any creature in the game and use their skills or power or security clearance or even their inherent trust from fellow officers or whoever. So what does the game make you do? Jumping puzzles as an angel, sans body. Great. You can't even command a squad by using your rank over other people. Come on!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! FUCK|
I know, this game is old. Picking apart game flaws made about half a decade ago is kind of pointless. But I just downloaded it, because I really always wanted to play it, without having to pay a red motherfucking cent for it. And there's a pro going with the con of having an old game that reached high and missed: it sort of paved the way for games to try similar things and succeed. Little by little succeeding more and more until something like, oh, say Far Cry (OR DARE I SAY HALF-LIFE 2) gets released which puts all the advances made in modern games into a new ultra modern game that does all those things right and clips out a lot of what those previous games did wrong.
|My all wise knowing super omnipotent mission commander, God (or Q, if you're in the Star Trek universe), knows where Satan is and how to fight him and where to go next. But he DIDN'T think to tell me to DUCK under the FUCKING LASER BEAMS that I could potentially get stuck on for hours. I wasn't stuck on this one, though, because a body blocking a laser beam is the unversal sign for "sneak past the blocked part." Really! |
The laser part I got stuck on was that recycling puzzle. An inherently great puzzle idea, ruined by the fact that you can't really tell that you can duck and crawl under the lasers because it doesn't look like there's that much space, and the game never tells you you can crawl. I want to jump in bodies and fling them into grinders, not crawl!
|I remember even in NOLF2 when that huge invincible dude would bust through walls in that abandoned science station in the arctic, I'd be scared, because he could potentially wipe me out and I had to scramble to find any hiding spot. In this game, though, that tension is turned into a relief. The more big and invincible the guy you run into, the more eager you feel to run right up to him, because then you can take him over and run around crushing people's heads into oblivion with one hand, and leave streets littered with headless corpses. Kind of like Alien vs Predator 2 in the Predator campaign, except you don't run around screaming at the headless corpses (or at yourself when you activate the healing thingy). Anyway I consider that a very lighthearted fun plus for this game. Games rarely evoke real feelings in players, especially by turning a gamer's expectations right on their heads. But the whole "throwing huge evil scary dude" at you and making you actually welcome that, that is some kind of really smart goodness there. |
|And somehow (PERHAPS BY MAGIC?) it gets really thrown off by other attempts at being really smart, and fucking up on a scale that can't even be corrected. That thing on the left tacked to the wall is supposed to be a person. WITH ARMS. Wow it doesn't look like it, it looks like a sac doctor from Sacrifice or some shit, I don't even know. Why would its arms and legs (or just legs, in this case) EVER have to come to sharp points, even to save polygons? What the FUCK. I think an engine like this is the cause of the game's ultimate downfall. But first: it's still pretty SWEE^_^ to actually pin guys to a wall with a harpoon gun. And they usually are still alive for a little bit. Ahahahaha. But still, this kind of weird graphic thing isn't rare. It not only isn't rare, but it'll happen with half the people you see in the game. And then after that, 100% of the people you see in the game will physically warp or deform from the ridiculous engine. |
Anyway, here's why the game can never rise above a 6 out of 10. The bugs never went away. I played this game with the latest patch. It still crashes to desktop every 20 minutes. When that happens, the game can't rerun without crashing, unless I restart. Eventually, the game would crash at every attempt to get past one certain point. Getting through it in safe mode worked, after an hour of play I could go back to non-safe (seriously it needed an hour of progress, anything before that would still crash). That was a straight hour of game, without sound at all. And I could swear people were actually trying to talk to me in those parts. In fact, most of the things that happen in the game, where characters say things, seem to be some kind of bug where the other people recognize you as the cherub instead of the person you're possessing. Either that or they're all supposed to be hunting for you and are obsessed with you, without knowing you're right there. Whatever.
Which leads to the end of the game. The final boss is apparently a curtain with a mug of beer printed on it, in a bar after you possess a dancer. You get to the curtain, the game crashes to desktop, and as the final nail in the game's coffin,
NOT EVEN SAFE MODE LETS ME GET ANY FURTHER. And this was after suffering through HOURS of jumping puzzles until my pinky hurt (that's what I hit the jump key with), hovering over fans and around electric things and into a vent and in a bonifde genuine sewer level, and across TONS of moving platforms, just to get back to the parts where I possess people. And then they started combining the people with some moving platforms, inside a fucking club no less. The club had like three floors, no music, nothing on the walls, it looked like a missile silo that was a few hundred years old, and had like 4 people in the place. And the elevator that took you to the tiny empty open floors was just a random moving "up and down" elevator that would stop at each floor, even if it was one you didn't want to stop on.
So you can see the main ingredients of this game are totally cool ideas, crazy action with sadistic fun and humor, mixed with extreme frustration, bullshit, creative stagnation, and the failure to really make something of their excellent premise.
I mean, there isn't even a SECOND cute hovering talking cigarette machine in the game. Not even in the bars or clubs of Sex City. Which isn't a city, but just some stairs with a few hallways. UGH.
So anyway, here's some scores.
Graphical cuteness: 10. It's cute.
Actual graphics: 2. The engine is a nice idea, but you know, taking it to this extreme should never be necessary. Reducing the polygons in actual player models. How fucking 1998 that is. Although the one good thing about the ridiculous graphics where people warp and distort before your eyes is that it doesn't make you feel a bit bad for sending them straight to hell. WITH YOUR DICK.
Sound: 4. They had a lot of wavs of people talking, but people still don't really talk. Also, some major cutscene dialogue appears to be on a second music disc, which requires some weird disc swapping while holding shift so your PC doesn't autodetect trick(????????????). Why the fuck is this necessary. These days you could put 5 CDs worth onto that same one disc as a bunch of mp3s, or some other incredibly tiny compressed type music/sound file. Anyway, some used-to-be semi-famous band did a 1-second repeating crunchy guitar riff for the battle music, which is cool if you kind of tune it out to the background. Although it's fun to actually have music that seems to encourage you to be cruel to everyone in the game. I still have a wav from the demo of some cop or guard saying "I SAID BACK TO WORK YOU GODDAMN RETARD!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Hahahahaha, but I've never heard it in the actual game, so what's the point.
FUN FACTOR^_^!: 5. Half fun, half bullshit.
M1 rating: 10. Because of that harpoon gun. It's like Painkiller without the ragdolls and 666 foot tall bosses.
Shiny: 10. This game is SO Shiny. High potential, wasted, ridiculous bizarre and kind of vaguely puzzling graphics engine and style, strange humor, game universe that seems to exist in a black hole of surrealism. A game that basically amounts to a creative fever dream. Like MDK, Earthworm Jim (the ultimate in "why am I here, what am I doing, and why am I doing it?" games), blah. This game's existence almost seems like a dream, because it got some pretty big game press, and then disappeared completely, not even being half the game it was promised to be, and actually being one of the most unplayably buggy games in history.
Overall: UGH (out of 10). Because of the heaping tons of wasted potential in this game.
Jhoh "Creexul" Cable