John Romero's Daikatana (Windows)

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Written by  :  -Chris (7565)
Written on  :  May 20, 2001
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  2 Stars2 Stars2 Stars2 Stars2 Stars

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John, why do you want to annoy us?

The Good

Daikatana’s lead designer John Romero is a programming veteran. It is commonly believed that veterans are experienced enough to avoid obvious mistakes. However, Daikatana is a model for bad design decisions and balancing. I’m positively baffled – I do not understand how so many plain errors could have occurred to such an renowned designer. As it is, Daikatana should be shown to young designers to teach them what to avoid. It should not be played.

The Bad

Weapons: Worst I’ve seen in any 3D shooter so far. Standard weapon can hurt yourself (and will in small corridors) – who came up with that idea? Most explosive weapons are too weak; also, loading takes too long. Result: The first volley will rarely kill an enemy, but the foe will likely kill you while you reload. Weapon switching takes too long – this is exceptionally annoying in the heat of a battle. See save gems.

Sidekicks: Useless. They will die an a matter of seconds in any major battle, forcing you to replay most of the level. See save gems.

Balancing: Whoever did this is a candidate for a good flocking. If I was delirious enough to design a game that has a very restricted save system, I’d make damn sure that the player never encounters an unfair situation, and that the game forgives minor mistakes. Daikatana was obviously designed by sadists. Why on earth do closing doors crush me? Why do forcefields kill me? Why do hidden turrets shoot me in the back? Who could possibly design jumping puzzles in full knowledge that the players would die a couple of times and have to replay the whole level each time? Why are there dozens of health packs when you don’t need them, but none in a succession of fierce battles? These are just a few examples of many flaws -- minor by themselves, but so frequent that one or the other pains you all the time. See save gems.

Save gems: A prime example of idiocy, and of an incredibly arrogant tutelage of the players. If I pay $40 for a game, I wish that expensive program to satisfy me, not annoy me. I’m a grown-up, thank you, I can decide for myself how often I’d like to save. I DO NOT want the game to force such a decision upon me. If it does, as Daikatana does, I will not buy a game of that company again. Wake up, Ion Storm! You’re not increasing the thrill if you don’t allow the player to save whenever he wants to, you’re just increasing the frustration when he dies. Just in case nobody told you: Frustration is not fun.

The Bottom Line

Daikatana is 3D shooter hell. A solid game at its core, it is made virtually unplayable by a score of turn-offs, flaws and unfair situations. Play if you enjoy humiliation.