And, unfortunately, Psycho Circus
turns up short when it comes to gameplay as well. Itís a serious run-and-gun experience, but I prefer the clean blasting of, say, Galaga
to the ďspawn behind youĒ nonsense of Psycho Circus
In Psycho Circus, you find yourself cast in the role of the four members of the band, Wicked Jester, called by Madame Raven to save the world by transforming into the Elders (read: KISS band members) and stopping the Nightmare Child... or something. Plotís never been a particularly strong point of first-person shooters, and this game is no exception. Youíll be picking up pieces of armor in the levels which give you new abilities (jump higher, etc.), and you eventually go to the Circus itself and deal with the Big Baddie.
All in all, it seems like a pretty entertaining premise, and it is -- for the first few hours. But then the game shows its true colors. You spend all your time wading through unending hordes of polygonal beasties, occasionally facing off against bigger beasties, in a race to get through the level. Yeah, Quake and its ilk are like this too, but the difference is that Quake stays entertaining.
The developers of Psycho Circus wanted to go for a more Gauntlet-style feel, so there are tons of enemies on the screen at once, instead of the usual one or two. This is cool at first, but it gets to be a major hindrance as you get further into the game. Since you donít get experience or anything for killing the enemies, theyíre more of a nuisance than anything else. And there are Spawners scattered liberally about the world, which do nothing but churn out more beasties until you destroy them. Sure, it doesnít make sense, but little does in games like these.
This would all be well and good if the game didnít cheat on you constantly. Walk down a hall that you -know- is cleared and enemies spawn behind you to tear you up. The positional audio, if there was any, didnít seem nearly as clear to me as it does in other games of the genre, and as such, I found myself spinning madly to find enemies that were hitting me. This oft-used method of teleporting enemies in when you think youíre done with an area is just a major pain in the butt. Itís not entertaining.
The game does have some cool points. I like the weapons design (well, the rocket launcher sucks, but the rest are rather nice), and the unique melee and ďultimateĒ weapons for each character are nice. The health bars that show up when you wail on enemies are neat, letting you know which weapons are most effective in a nice, graphical way. And the level design is usually visually interesting, if not revolutionary. You usually have a good sense of where you came from and where you need to be going.
But the seedier parts of Psycho Circus weigh it down too much, Iím afraid.