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atari missile command
Written by  :  Zovni (10623)
Written on  :  Dec 15, 2001
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  4.75 Stars4.75 Stars4.75 Stars4.75 Stars4.75 Stars
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Grade-A platformer.

The Good

Heart of Darkness is an excellent game, disregarding 3D accelerated graphics, complicated interfaces and all that mumbo-jumbo, Heart goes back to the basics and delivers a gaming experience based only on the ingenious and inventive machinations of these 2D gods that used to be Delphine soft. It truly is one of those cases when it's "so old, it's new"

The story is inconsequential (which is unfortunate, see "the bad") but the gameplay is nothing but genius. It combines excellent level design with simple yet interesting puzzles, and some of the most beautiful 2D artwork ever to grace a platform game. The game uses the time-honored super-fluid animation Delphine was known for in their previous games, and also includes breath-taking animated backgrounds which makes the game stand firmly as an example of how great, detailed art can enhance a game experience. The music too is top notch, with an impressive arrangement of orchestral music that is so good it rivals some of the best orchestral music found on feature films.

Heart of Darkness is truly a game too good to be true. One wouldn't think that someone would actually do a game like this in this day and age. But it's simple yet inventive gameplay, it's attention to detail, and it's great production values make it a timeless jewel.

The Bad

Well, essentially the resolution is too small. The game uses only 80% of the screen and the graphics sometimes produce a startling amount of "pixelitis" which is a real shame considering how beautiful the art in this game is. Aside from that you have the fact that the game is too short, which isn't necessarily bad, but since it's so damn linear it makes the game take a real value hit. You can't really expect to pay more than 20 bucks for the kind of value you get here. Also the final confrontation seems downright cheap, it's "shoot everything and get to the last screen!"...

But those are mostly small gripes. The only real problem I have with the game is that sometimes it seems like a waste. Don't get me wrong, I love the game, but I don't exactly enjoy the fact that it is so kiddie-oriented. I mean, remember Out of this World? If you look at both games they are essentially the same: character trapped in strange world, trying to get back (or simply survive) and who gets involved in native problems. Gameplay is the same. So what makes "World" better than "Heart"? The underlying maturity that was present in it. "World" had a clear message in it, and created an emotional storyline, with great characters and somewhat deep connotations without a single line of dialogue (well unless you count your alien buddy's grumbling). I can't help but think that if "Heart" had dared to be mature it would have been elevated to the category of all time classic like it's predecessor, now it is simply an excellent inspired platformer.

All that wouldn't imply a change in the game itself, the game can convey a somber and serious tone sometimes, which make it contrast a lot with the cutesy cutscenes. In fact, I often thought when playing it that those who made the game and those who made the cutscenes must have been thinking of different games altogether. In the game itself you have a more dark and moody conception of the gameworld, and you have some downright mature details like some exceptionally gory death animations (ps. If anyone wants to know how to convey gore and death without the blood just check this game and enjoy Andy's many deaths). But whenever you go back to the cutscenes, it's back to cutey-land, and if you told me that they told a nice storyline then yeah, I guess I could accept it, but the story here is nothing to remember.

...Ahh tsk, tsk. Well I guess you just can't have it all, huh?

The Bottom Line

Regardless of all my grumping this is a great-great-great-great game. Just don't dream about what it could have been and you'll be fine... or if you have no problems with the kiddie factor then dive right in!

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