Ads are gone. We're using Patreon to raise funds so we can grow. Please pledge support today!
Google+   Facebook button  Twitter button 
3DS | DS | PS3 | PS4 | PSP | VITA | WII | WIIU | X360 | XB1 | All
The War of the Worlds (Xbox 360) artwork

The War of the Worlds (Xbox 360) review


"WotW isn't exactly unplayable; the tense narrative and bleak, nearly monochromatic presentation does much to convey the hopelessness of the human plight in London in the face of merciless invaders. "





War of the Worlds is something of an institution in aliens take over the world lore. You’ve likely read the seminal H.G. Wells book, or viewed the original movie, or at least watched the Tom Cruise-vehicle-cum-remake. No? To all three? What’s wrong with you?

I can happily check all three boxes, and so I was well on board for the Xbox Live game once it was announced. That the game is an old-school sidescroller in the vein of classics like the original Prince of Persia, Out of this World, and Flashback made this an absolute must play for me. Patrick Stewart's lovely and authoritative voice behind the narrative was simply the icing on the cake.

Sadly, what plays out is another tragic story of a project rife with promise which went south and very quickly, in the execution. Three intimately linked faults conspired to sink WotW: the game is unevenly difficult, its controls are horribly inconsistent and counterintuitive, and checkpoints are set too far apart.

The result is a tribute to Wells, Mechner, Chahi and Cuisset (the developers actually named a level after the latter three), gone very wrong. WotW isn't exactly unplayable; the tense narrative and bleak, nearly monochromatic presentation does much to convey the hopelessness of the human plight in London in the face of merciless invaders. The alien conquest is quick and all-consuming, and the game does well to make us feel insignificant: Our "Arthur Clark" is a cockroach skittering breathlessly along seeking lost fiance and brother, among marauding steel giants who would crush him underfoot.

Comically, that's often not even necessary. Sometimes, we'll just trip over our own feet. And die. I'd be remiss not to let one particularly trying sequence serve as cautionary microcosm of the experience. Imagine it: you've escaped the madness on the streets, and sought refuge in some ruined apartments. There, a pseudo-sentient black fog belches forth from the ventilation shafts and threatens to suffocate you. You've got to stay ahead of it, use crates (in the middle of hallways?) to prevent it from flowing out when you have the chance, and find a gas mask (left by some fortuitous turn, on the ground?).

It’s more than likely that you'll send Arthur running up to the first crate and hit jump and he’ll simply come to a stop. Arthur may watch the crate for awhile as the smoke starts to catch up from behind. Arthur may then – wait for it – do a barrel roll into the crate and end up dead as if the crate had fallen on him, even though it was quite stationary and flush to the ground the entire time.

This is the stuff of broken games. Dying over and over in this fashion makes you want to kill Patrick Stewart for his maddening soliloquies which punctuate each and every restart, makes you loathe the drab backdrops, makes you seethe at being placed so far back. Amazing potential or not, well-intentioned tribute or not, palpable atmosphere or not – this is the stuff of broken games, and you should not be party.

Rating: 4/10

Masters's avatar
Staff review by Marc Golding (November 23, 2011)

A bio for this contributor is currently unavailable, but check back soon to see if that changes. If you are the author of this review, you can update your bio from the Settings page.

More Reviews by Marc Golding
My Hero (Sega Master System) artwork
My Hero (Sega Master System)

You play the role of The Hero, but you look like Edward Carnby, specifically from Alone in the Dark 2, right down to the blue leisure suit and pitiful death sequences. You are the strapping, golden-domed captain of the football team, enjoying a sunset with your prudish girlfriend on the beach, besotting her with...
Silent Hill HD Collection (Xbox 360) artwork
Silent Hill HD Collection (Xbox 360)

I am not enamoured of any two old games slapped together (just Silent Hill 2 and 3 in this case) being called a “collection” in the first place, especially given how easily Silent Hill 4: The Room (of the same ‘era’) could have been included for more value if not quality. Moreover, the third instal...
Silent Hill: Downpour (Xbox 360) artwork
Silent Hill: Downpour (Xbox 360)

Some might argue that the canon was lost once it left the hands of its original developers; since that time it has been passed from studio to studio, each with ingenuous intentions of making the first ‘next gen’ standout. Regrettably, that still hasn’t happened.

Feedback

If you enjoyed this The War of the Worlds review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!

board icon
honestgamer posted November 23, 2011:

Your closing paragraph really ties this together and explains how the stuff maligned up to that point (which doesn't sound terrible on the surface of things) can result in a miserable experience. I especially liked your initial admiration for Patrick Stewart and the way you made it so easy to imagine growing to hate what you once loved. Sweet review of a game that I will definitely avoid.
board icon
Masters posted November 23, 2011:

Thanks, Jason. The review is rather short, but I said just what it was I wanted to say. I was just remarking to Emp; this is something us writers often fail at, strangely enough.
board icon
wolfqueen001 posted November 27, 2011:

This is a good review, though I'm curious to know if the uneven difficulty has mostly to do with the fact that the controls are so bad or if there are other elements that make it worse. I got the impression that the hazards, such as the robots and the black smoke, make it so, but are there any enemies you actually have to fight or is it all just dodging things?

Anyway, I did enjoy this, and I'm quite disappointed that the game turned out so poorly.
board icon
Masters posted November 27, 2011:

Mostly dodging things, and everything is a one-hit kill, which is unforgiving as hell ESPECIALLY when the controls are shite.
board icon
fleinn posted November 27, 2011:

..Another World was, I remember, lambasted by some people for the exact same things when that came out. The controls were broken, the set pieces didn't hang together, the action was tacked on (etc, etc.).

I'm kind of wondering why you didn't mention the way the animation works as well. Or how you walk and have some degree of feeling that the guy is walking on the floor, that kind of thing..

If it's closer to Flashback (with the arm-waving as you run to an edge and stop, and the "delayed trigger" moves to string together the right animation, etc. Or if it's more like a Mario game where you hunt the edges of boxes to land on, and your momentum is more abstract and outside the game's physics and objects in a sense..

I... guess I'm wondering if you review the game as an arcade platformer, when it's really a narrative-driven puzzle/adventure.
board icon
Masters posted November 28, 2011:

Another World was, I remember, lambasted by some people for the exact same things when that came out.

Really? 'Round these parts, Out of This World was widely praised for being awesome, but difficult.

I'm kind of wondering why you didn't mention the way the animation works as well.

Because it's irrelevant.

I... guess I'm wondering if you review the game as an arcade platformer, when it's really a narrative-driven puzzle/adventure.

It's like the games I compared it to.

Only it sucks.
board icon
fleinn posted November 28, 2011:

Because it's irrelevant.

..it's probably not irrelevant when you insist that the way the movement works is broken. And since it's a 2d platformer - the animation and how it relates to movement seems important.

But if it's not, then I wonder how you manage to combine "it's broken" with "it's irrelevant".

I mean, I haven't played the game yet, so I can't say if it "sucks" - but I don't understand where you're going with the review. In all fairness, if you wrote something like that for Another World, or any game, I'd be wondering the same thing.
board icon
Masters posted November 28, 2011:

..it's probably not irrelevant when you insist that the way the movement works is broken. And since it's a 2d platformer - the animation and how it relates to movement seems important.

Leaping logic with a single bound.

But if it's not, then I wonder how you manage to combine "it's broken" with "it's irrelevant".

Did I do that? Whoops.

...but I don't understand where you're going with the review.

That's a shame. Perhaps it's best to leave it at that.
board icon
Suskie posted November 28, 2011:

This game actually looks really cool, so thanks for unveiling the cold, hard truth. You've definitely saved me some money.
board icon
Masters posted November 29, 2011:

Glad to hear it, Mike. I think you may have returned the favour with that Dark Souls game!
board icon
fleinn posted November 29, 2011:

That's a shame. Perhaps it's best to leave it at that.

..ok. Sorry for stepping on your privates.

You must be signed into an HonestGamers user account to leave feedback on this review.

Info | Help | Privacy Policy | Contact | Links

eXTReMe Tracker
© 1998-2014 HonestGamers
None of the material contained within this site may be reproduced in any conceivable fashion without permission from the author(s) of said material. This site is not sponsored or endorsed by Nintendo, Sega, Sony, Microsoft, or any other such party. The War of the Worlds is a registered trademark of its copyright holder. This site makes no claim to The War of the Worlds, its characters, screenshots, artwork, music, or any intellectual property contained within. Opinions expressed on this site do not necessarily represent the opinion of site staff or sponsors.