"Usually, one plays games to escape from doing work, or as a reward for a job well done. However between playing Robert D. Anderson and the Legacy of Cthulhu and, say, finding more work to do, picking the more enjoyable use of spare time is a challenge."
A general tenet for gaming is that if a game feels like work when you're playing it...you probably shouldn't be playing it. Usually, one plays games to escape from doing work, or as a reward for a job well done. However between playing Robert D. Anderson and the Legacy of Cthulhu and, say, finding more work to do, picking the more enjoyable use of spare time is a challenge.
The initial booting of the game reveals a loading screen not unlike a thousand other First Person Shooters. There's some art, a loading bar, and a voice over that's designed to give you something to pay attention to while the game chugs its way through the necessary math for the first level. For a game that looks like the first Half Life, level one was apparently mathtastic, because it takes a full five minutes of loading to be able to play the game. Given that the introductary monologue repeated itself at least three times during the load, it probably wasn't actually intended to take that long, but intentions don't always seem to matter with Legacy of Cthulhu.
Stairs are a grand example. There are a lot of them in the game, and even though the player intends to go up them, they aren't always so cooperative. Sure, sometimes you can run right up, unimpeded and on your merry way. Other times, the game behaves as if they are a wall. Even better, if you attempt to back away and go up again, your character suddenly moves like a man drowning in jello. Things slow way down, and sluggish steps aren't enough to take you anywhere in a timely manner.
You can break the jello-hold by crouching, but that's small comfort for a glitch that shouldn't be present in the first place.
The game doesn't have proper enemies, either. Instead it has automatic, heat-seeking turrets shaped like enemies. The instant the first pixel of your gun passes through a door, every enemy with a line of sight to said door opens fire. Exit back through the door, and they won't give chase. Rarely do enemies move, instead they simply wait until they can see the tip of your gun barrel again before shooting some more. Charging past an open door no wider than your character is a harrowing ordeal that can get you shot two or three times by a single enemy, presuming he's in a place where he can see you through the door. Luckily he'll never follow, or the game would probably be really hard.
But it's not. The AI (if you can call it that) is annoying, but exploitable. They shoot a lot, but being stationary makes them easy to hit. And health packs are everywhere, so after taking some hits, you're right back to full for the next room and the next moronic adversary. It's interesting to note that even though getting shot is commonplace, there are often more health packs than you can use. Maybe that's a kind of apology.
It takes a special kind of game to not only give you enough time dip into a book between levels, but make said reading frustrating as well. Robert D. Anderson and the Legacy of Cthulhu is a special kind of game. It's tedious and frustrating and a complete mess. Worst of all is that it's not even hilariously inept; there's nothing funny about how awful the game is.
Freelance review by Josh Higley (September 30, 2007)
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