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Will Rock Review

GAME INFO
publisher: Ubisoft
developer: Saber Interactive
genre: Shooters

MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS
PIII-500, 128MB RAM, 700MB HDD, 32MB 3D accelerator
ESRB rating: M
homepage:
www.will-rock.com/

release date: Jun 09, 03
» All About Will Rock on ActionTrip


About two weeks ago I got a chance to check out the near-complete build of Saber Interactive's serious FPS, entitled Will Rock. This time I'll introduce you to the full retail version. From what I've gathered, the game has a few serious elements we've all seen before in a certain first person action title, but for the life of me, I just cannot seem to remember which one... The point is that I wanted to compare it to Will Rock, but now I cannot recall its bloody name. Seriously, this has been bugging me for days, and even now it's hard to pinpoint a game that has any similarities with Will Rock. Damn, this always happens to me, why can't I take my job seriously... it is my duty to remember the name of that bloody game; if not for me, then at least for Uncle Sam.

Hm, still no use... My mind's a blank.

For those of you who didn't get a serious opportunity to encounter any details regarding the game's storyline, here's a brief rundown. Will Rock, a young serious archeologist and adventurer, is helping a group of students that somehow managed to find the gateway to the mythical city of Lost Olympus. With the help of Dr. Headstrong and his lovely young daughter Emma (a serious virgin no less), Will succeeds in opening the portal to the lands described in the mythology of ancient Greece. In the meantime, the students have revealed their true identity and purpose. They turned out to be part of a bizarre cult. This weird cult kidnapped Emma with the firm intention of sacrificing her "yummy" virtuous body to Zeus, to the God of all Gods. Fortunately for you, the spirit of the Greek Titan Prometheus was freed during all this mess. He bestowed Will with Titan-like powers, which will be of serious help to during his perilous dark and journeys.

Not much of a story, but who cares... as long as you get to spew out streams of bullets, acid, and fire balls in order to send throngs of hostiles into oblivion. That's what this serious project is all about; running across huge outdoor and indoor environments and shooting the living crap out of millions of deadly serious minions. Plus, the gameplay mechanics are childishly simple, hence players won't need to waste their time on any introductions and tutorials. Seriously, the game rocks! That is, of course, if you disregard the fact that it uses a gameplay concept identical to a particular FPS game that everyone seems to enjoy so much. You know the one created by a seriously talented development team from Croatia - although, I'm not sure on that one, so don't take my word too seriously.

Sadly, when I FIRST ENCOUNTERED a number of bloodthirsty enemies in Will Rock, I noticed that some AI issues weren't straightened out since the near-review build. Clearly, the developers had very little time to fix this, which is a shame because the issues remove one of the rare challenging aspects of the game. Some enemies seem to act normally and intelligently (even seriously every so often). When you encounter boss creatures for instance, you won't experience any weird and unexplainable behaviors. Yet, the annoying part arrives when you come across weak-mined foes with seriously screwed up movement patterns - they cannot go around walls or corners, hence they just keep jamming themselves until you get really close to them. SERIOUSLY though, the SECOND I've ENCOUNTERED this issue I thought that leaving such a problem unattended is inexcusable. Hopefully, a patch may fix it, but such a setback will surely draw many gamers away.

On the bright side, one has to remember that serious games like this one, and that other game, are not supposed to have rocking AI. The idea is to spawn as many freaky monsters as possible, and give you that seriously addictive arcade shooter rush. The problems arise when the spawning and the level design aren't exactly up to snuff, but I'll get to that.

Concerning enemies, I found that a great number of them uses a variety of unique moves and attacks. For example, the Centaur charges swiftly at you and can send you flying up high into the air unless you manage to avoid its nasty poke (a nice one, but somehow seriously familiar... why I wonder?). On a slightly disappointing note, there are very few types of enemies altogether. Don't actually know what the developers were thinking here, but there's a mere 15 different enemy types you'll come across throughout the entire game. That's hardly enough to compete with some of the FPS's that have that special flare of seriousness (ah crap, still can't think of a single FPS that can be used in comparison here... oh well).

Like I've mentioned in my hands-on preview, the players have access to some innovative weapons. The acid rifle, atomic gun, and the medusa gun (check out the hands on preview for more details on how these firearms work). Other than these nifty guns, your arsenal is pretty much standard and it comprises of the usual lot - pistol, lever, shotgun, machine gun, sniper crossbow, fireball thrower (similar to a rocket launcher), mini-gun, and grenade/mines. From an overall standpoint, all of these weapons work fine and I haven't experienced any serious drawbacks in their performance... except maybe one - the shotgun. During the game, the shotgun sometimes fails to blow the enemy away at short distances, which is very unrealistic considering the amazing power a shotgun has when fired at close range (virtually no splash damage). So basically, other than the three aforementioned original items in your arsenal, the game doesn't appear to offer any seriously novel approaches in terms of weapons design.

The basic principal of the game is to make your way through 10 single-player levels, some of which end with a seriously ugly boss or a dreadfully simple puzzle. One of the things that seriously needed additional work in Will Rock, is the incredibly simplistic level design. For the most part the game takes you through rather crude and unchallenging sections, and then it totally surprises you with an ungodly amount of spawning enemies. In an attempt to make the levels interesting, the developers threw in sporadic puzzles that include the old find-the-lever-to-open-the-door routine. The highly clich'd feature was poorly incorporated into the gameplay, consequently degrading the game's addictiveness even further. Certain sections in the game have been supplied with stuff like small platforms that can launch Will sky-high, giving him the opportunity to pass through the level quicker. Now, let's be SERIOUS for a moment again. This was already seen several times is certain other titles before - or my name isn't SAMwise the Brave! (Uhm...it isn't. - Six)

Granted, Will Rock has one serious characteristic that's seriously worth mentioning. Gamers can engage in three multiplayer challenges - CTF, Deathmatch, and Treasure Hunt. If you wish you may also play the game in a co-op mode with up to four of your buddies. This mode allows you to choose an infinite amount of ammo; a cool moment no doubt, but not as seriously entertaining as you'd hope it to be.

Visually, the game was polished since the last version we tested. Everything works smoothly, the animations are convincing, and most of the creatures were modeled quite well. In addition, we've witnessed a number of cool special effects that can be caused when players use their weapons (the acid gun, for instance, inflates your enemies and makes them explode into bits - quite a subtle visual facet). By the way, there are other appealing graphical elements that display neat-looking particle effects - check out the hands-on preview for that one and for more info on the visuals. I think it's fair to say that boss creatures look quite cool; they were done with great precision and some of them can hurl huge fire balls your way, which looks very pleasing to the eye. But alas, the poorly presented environments and the abovementioned weaknesses in the overall level design are the main negative aspect of the game. Playing through the entire game, I never got a chance to see any particularly impressive backgrounds. All of the levels were seriously stripped of additional background details - one more aspect that lowers the game's overall visual quality.

The sounds are okay though. I'm being serious this time folks! There's a variety of catchy tunes to boot (although even these tunes may seem too "serious" for some, wink, wink). The sounds produced by weapons are very realistic and all the creatures were supplied with high quality unique sounds. Every once in while, the main character uses catchphrases like... well, I cannot remember any of them right now, but I can assure you that they have that special seriousness in them.

To summarize using utmost meticulousness and seriousity, Will Rock can be fun and slightly addictive at times, but the designers screwed up the gameplay pace with the poor layout of the levels and their lackluster design, and, at times, awkward frequency of the spawning baddies. On certain instances the game seemed plain dull. You might even enjoy the game the first time around. Once you've completed it, however, there's simply no reason I'd think of that could draw you back to Will Rock again. The multiplayer unfortunately doesn't possess any inventive gameplay elements that might encourage you to spend some more time with the game.

P.S. I sincerely hope you'll all take this review seriously. I also hope that you don't mind me using the phrase "serious" too often - I find that it helps me achieve a degree of seriosity, while maintaining as much seriousness and seriousility as humanly possible.

Oh WAIT! I REMEMBER NOW! The game this most reminds me of!

DOOM II!

Ah, I can sleep easy now.

Closing comments by the editor: I should also like to add one important fact about Will Rock that hasn't been mentioned in the text. The game costs about $20; the same as that OTHER arcade shooter title that I'm sure you're all familiar with. Serious shooter fans on a budget should definitely consider this when deciding whether or not they should give Will Rock a chance. Regardless of its price tag though, all of the things that have been said about Will Rock in the review stand.

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USER SCORE
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ACTIONTRIP SCORE
6.4   Above Average 


HIGHS
Gory, fast-paced, easy to get into and mildly addictive. Cool bosses and catchy tunes;

LOWS
Small variety of opponents. Certain AI gems which I couldn't overlook. The level design. Relatively short. Seriously, the whole game is like this other game I played minus the fluid gameplay pace and cool level design.

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