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Raze's Hell

Score: 70%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Majesco
Developer: Artech
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: Action/ Shooter/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

Compared to other budget titles, Raze’s Hell is visually a solid title. Overall the game has a feel that is similar to the recently released Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath (a compliment that goes deeper than you might think). Environments give off a sense of being large while at the same time keep the action in small, self-contained areas. As you play through the game, especially the intro, there’s a real sense of “world” found throughout Raze.

Aside from the Kewletts, who do a great job of being so cute you’ll want to kill them all, I wasn’t all that happy with the character design. In particular Raze’s appearance never really caught on with me since there’s really nothing endearing about the character’s look. Though Raze’s unattractive look is part of the game’s concept, there still needs to be something about the character that makes you say, “This is a character I want to play as.”

On the technical side of things, Raze’s Hell contends with a number of annoying ticks that end up ruining the entire experience. The biggest offender is the frame-rate, which stops and stutters with regularity. Even while playing the offline single-player component, it almost feels like you’re trying to work your way through a laggy online game. Scenes stop for a few seconds only to shoot forward a frame or two a second later. This is especially problematic when the action picks up.

When it comes to sound, Raze benefits from some really funny writing. The voice acting is well done, especially when it comes to delivery; just a few seconds late and the once funny lines wouldn’t come off as well. The sounds of combat are generally good, though nothing really stands out as being particularly good or bad.


Gameplay:

Raze’s Hell takes place in a far off world ravaged by Kewletts – a group of cute, fuzzy animals with a Nazi-like fanaticism to spreading utopia, or should I sat “cutopia.” This may not sound like a bad thing... at least until you realize that the Kewletts have turned to extreme measures in order to spread their warm and fuzzy doctrine. Enter Raze, one of the “ugly” creatures targeted in the Kewlett’s purge, or as he’s been labeled by the propagandist media, “…that .1% that can’t seem to go with the flow.”

Raze’s Hell is heavy on the political satire and has its funny moments. Unfortunately these moments are plagued by bland, boring gameplay.

Raze is a pretty standard third-person shooter. The main goal of the game is to kill every Kewlett that gets in your way, reducing the game to what essentially boils down to a number of firefights. The game’s overall feel resembles Stranger’s Wrath, only without the polish. Missions lack variety and become redundant after the first hour or so. Things are only made worse when you throw in the previously mentioned frame-rate problems.

Aside from the single-player game (which clocks in at about eight hours), Raze’s Hell also includes Live Support – which is unique for a budget title. However, it’s evident that the multiplayer options are from a budget title once you really get into them since there’s really nothing new or revolutionary here. Still, it’s a nice addition.


Difficulty:

Even if all the technical issues could be cleared up, Raze’s Hell would still be considered a hard game. Not only does the game overload you with enemies that literally pop out from all sides with little warning, they’re next to impossible to kill and sometimes take an entire clip (or what amounts to one in gameplay terms) to put down. In addition, enemy aim is spot on while you have to tangle with a very finicky targeting reticule that makes lining up a good shot a pain in the ass.

Game Mechanics:

Taking a cue from Stranger’s Wrath, weapons are organic with your ammo consisting mainly of fruit and small, furry animals. While not your standard weapons, all act like the weapons you typically find in a shooter. Raze also has access to melee attacks for when he wants to really sink his claws into the Kewlett menace. Melee attacks are more than just a way to get up close and personal with enemies – they’re also the only way to heal yourself. After grabbing hold of one of your cute adversaries, you can rip the stuff out of them and heal yourself.

Of all the things Raze’s Hell borrows from Stranger’s Wrath, good controls aren’t one of them. Controls constantly jump from stiff to floaty, making them largely unresponsive. Toss in the ever-troublesome frame-rate issues and the game is nearly unplayable in a few areas.

Raze’s Hell is like finding dry land in a swamp. It’s much better than the surrounding land, but at the same time it still has its problems and isn’t a place you’d want to call home.


-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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