Inside Pulse 12

Review: Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows (XB)


Genre: Action
Platform: Xbox (also available for PS2)
ESRB Rating: Teen 13+ (Violence)
Publisher: Midway
Release Date: 12/12/05
Official Website: http://gauntletsevensorrows.com/

Almost anyone who was born prior to 1980 knows of Gauntlet. Released in the arcades in 1985, Gauntlet told a story of 4 heroes (Warrior, Valkyrie, Elf, Wizard) who must travel to the top of a tower, collecting treasure and defeating enemies along the way. Gauntlet was one of the first dungeon crawler games ever, and is also one of the first 4 player co-op titles out there. Sadly, most of my good memories of the game were dashed when I played it again on Xbox Live Arcade. It was more monotonous than I remember. Then again, I probably died often within the first few stages of the game, and was unwilling to part with more precious quarters to continue.

There have been a multitude of other Gauntlet titles released since the original, and I don’t have any memories of any of them. There was Gauntlet II, Gauntlet III, Gauntlet 4, Gauntlet Legends and Gauntlet Dark Legacy. I don’t know anything about any of these titles, so they could be actual sequels, or remakes, or may have nothing to do with the story of the original.

So now we have the high profile release of Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows. One of the biggest news stories about the game was the departure of John Romero from the staff. You know, the guy who got a big head over the popularity of Doom and Quake, left id, founded his own company, spent a lot of money and made one of the most overhyped first person shooters (Daikatana) ever? Yea, that guy. I don’t know what his official job was for the game (I didn’t see his name in the credits), but either way, he never stuck around to see the game completed.

So now that the game is out, let’s look at it and see how it compares with the original title.


Story
The story once again revolves around the Four Great Heroes. They are, once again, the Warrior, the Valkyrie, the Elf and the Wizard. For a long time, the immortal heroes have served the Emperor of the land, until one day, he decides to betray the Heroes by crucifying them on the great tree, stripping them of their immortality. The emperor’s 6 advisors (henceforth known as The Sixxxx), somehow steal the powers of the Heroes, and morph into devilish monsters, and spread out into 6 different parts of the countryside, each of The Sixxxx a little bit further than the last, just ready for somebody to come along and take them down one-by-one.

The Emperor realizes that he was a tool, and goes and lets the Heroes down off the tree. He was like, “Umm, they tricked me and stuff. Please don’t kill me! They were each one of my sorrows, and betraying you was my seventh sorrow. Hey, that may be a good name for a game!”

So, since you are the great Heroes, it’s your job to go kill The Sixxxx. Oh, and even though you were crucified which made you lose your immortality, which was therefore stolen by The Sixxxx, when you come down off the tree, you get it back. Bonus! But they still have their powers. Huh?

Ok, the story doesn’t get any more complex than that. In fact, I made the story infinitely better in this review. It’s not really a problem with the story being generic. On the contrary, it’s just stupid. So, we’re the Four Great Heroes. We serve you and your country for who knows how long. You betray us and let your advisors go and f*ck up your country, and you want US to go fix it? Are you NUTS?!

I simply can’t be nice to this story. It’s just garbage. It makes no sense, and it doesn’t add anything to the game other than anti-motivation. This is one of those stories that was not typed by 1000 monkeys on 1000 typewriters. It was typed by one monkey that had been beaten around too much, in crayon. Oh, and once you get the spiel from the Emperor at the beginning, there is no progression. Just killing stuff. Yay!
Rating: 2.0

Graphics
The graphics are pretty good, but certainly not the best that the Xbox is capable of. It certainly doesn’t have much style. It looks like just about every other hack-n-slash type of game out there. Some of the environments are decently cool, I suppose, but they reek of Romero. Moving from one area to the next is TOTALLY random. You start off in an underground dungeon, then move to a village, then move to a Chinese pirate city, then to a forest. It makes no sense.

The character designs are equally generic. Nothing special or memorable at all about them. They’re just…there. One thing I will admit is that when you get a weapon or armor upgrade in the game, it changes the look of your character, and some of the weapons look pretty cool, but you don’t see them very often unless you aren’t swinging them. And that in itself is rare thanks to the crazy amount of enemies.

Speaking of enemies, they too are utterly generic and boring. Every stage has like 3 or 4 different types of enemies, but you’ll see at least 100 of each of those enemies. Yippee. And the bosses are pretty funny. It’s like a poor man’s version of a Todd McFarlane monster. And boy, they didn’t even care about clipping at all. The first boss you encounter is a scarecrow with two scythes for hands. When you first see him, his arms are kind of crossed, and he moves and one of his scythe arms goes right through the other one. It just looked really amateurish.

So overall, the graphics are really pretty generic and average, but I gave an additional point for the change of how your armor and weapons look, and the pretty good (though random) environments.
Rating: 6.0

Sound
We go from the generic to the downright bad. The music isn’t too awful itself, but it is utterly forgettable. It doesn’t help that they couldn’t pick a style either. Some of the music is relatively orchestral, while some sounded like techno, and none of it really FIT the game.

The real music of the game is the sound effects. Since you will be hitting one button very often, you’ll hear your axe swing a lot. And that’s one sound. Over and over. And over. And over. You get my point.

The voice acting is pretty poor as well. At first, you might think that the narrator/Emperor sounds like Patrick Stewart. But only if Patrick Stewart had absolutely zero acting ability. Which he doesn’t, because he’s one of the greatest actors alive. He’s not as bad as the person who gives you warning when your health is low. He’s downright awful. The voice sounds like it’s supposed to be the voice in Mortal Kombat that says “Fatality” but it doesn’t sound near as good. And when he says “Death has appeared” it sounds like “Death has a beard” which is the opposite of scary.
Rating: 3.0

Gameplay and Control
Gameplay? What gameplay? I must have missed that part of the game.

The face buttons all have an attack: A is Weak Attack, X is Strong Attack, Y is Upward Attack, and B is Ranged Attack. R allows you to open chests. L blocks. Ok, now that the controls are out of the way, I’ll explain how pointless they are. See, many enemies will block your Weak Attack. It’s faster than the Strong Attack, but A LOT weaker, so there is really absolutely no purpose to it, because hitting X all the time kills faster, and is unblockable. The Upward Attack serves no purpose that I saw, so I never used it. So that means I only used two attacks: X and B. B is very weak, and is really only useful for taking out enemies that are impossible to reach. I never used Block either, because there’s really no point.

So here is basically how the game is played. You move, you see something, you keep hitting X until it dies. Enemies spawn one of two ways: either by a generator, which you can destroy and which stops the spawning, or by an invisible opening that you can’t stop the spawning. So you go along, destroying all generators you see and killing all the enemies you see. The X button is your friend.

That’s ALL there is to this game. Hitting X over and over. Ok, I’ll admit, you do open up chests and get gold, which you can spend on attack moves you won’t ever use. You also get experience which you can then use to increase your power, magic or health. But still, that doesn’t matter. You can start a new character on the last level and still compete. Which makes me believe the experience and moves were just thrown in to make you FEEL like you’re achieving something.

The game holds your hand every step of the way. Any puzzles you encounter are blissfully spelled out for you. If you go into a room with a blocked off area, with a bunch of generators, it say DESTROY ALL GENERATORS! Wow. Didn’t see that one coming. Not only that, but it’s so painfully linear too. I couldn’t find any real secrets or anything like that.

And one of the dumbest gameplay features I’ve EVER seen in a game is DEATH. Occasionally, you will open a treasure chest that Death just so happened to be hiding in, and he slowly drains your health. But as the instruction tells you the first time he appears, just use one burst of magic on him and he dies. WHAT THE FUCK?! What’s the point of this? There is no difficulty involved. In fact, you will know within a second when Death is there, so you hit the Black button for magic, and before the shitty voice says “Death has a beard”, Death is dead. THERE IS NO POINT TO HIM. Which is appropriate, because there’s no point to the game either.
Rating: 3.0

Replayability
This game would be a great party game to play with your friends co-op, if there were anything fun about it. Though I guess if you like mindless button mashing WITH your friends, then this is the game for you. Sadly, by myself or with others, there is no other reason to play this game.
Rating: 2.0

Balance
On one hand, the game has 4 difficulties. On another, the game never gets “hard”. What they think makes the game hard is more enemies and it taking more hits to kill them. That just makes the game longer and more boring. The game never, not once, gets difficult. Want to know why? If you die, you just go back to the last checkpoint. It’s not a savepoint, it’s a checkpoint, so EVERYTHING is as exactly like when you died. So, yes, you really are immortal, though that is retarded, because you DIE and are REBORN. Either way, don’t be afraid to die.
Rating: 3.0

Originality
There is nothing original about this game. There is absolutely nothing unique or innovative. This game is the most derivative game I’ve ever played. For one thing, it’s Gauntlet. It is virtually exactly like the Gauntlet of old, except with better graphics. Yes, you get experience, yes you can unlock new moves, but there is nothing original about that. EVERY action game has that. There is nothing that makes this game different or special.
Rating: 1.0

Addictiveness
There were a few fleeting moments when the game was somewhat interesting. But when those were gone, the game was like a job or a chore. “See how many times I can hit X before I go insane” was the job. Other than those brief moments of enjoyment (usually on the screen where you pick your new stats), the game was boring as hell and I didn’t enjoy it at all.
Rating: 2.0

Appeal Factor
Other than fans of the Gauntlet series, and maybe fans of generic boring action games, I don’t see who this will appeal to. Even action titles I don’t particularly like are much more enjoyable than this. There’s just nothing in it I can see would make people go out and buy it, OTHER than the title. And people that do go out and pay $50 on the title alone will be sorely disappointed.
Rating: 4.0

Miscellaneous
Now, I’ve heard rumors about the game not being complete and the subsidiary of Midway that made it getting laid off, but I don’t know any facts about that, but I do know that this game has very little going for it. It’s too short (but still too long), it reeks of mediocrity, and it’s just not special. My way of looking at things is that when you make a game, you should make the game be the best it possibly can. If you’re not aiming high, then why bother making the game? I just think the developers wanted to throw out a game, and didn’t really care if it was good or not. Because there certainly isn’t anything special here.
Rating: 3.0

Ratings Summary

Story: 2.0
Graphics: 6.0
Sound: 3.0
Gameplay and Control: 3.0
Replayability: 2.0
Balance: 3.0
Originality: 1.0
Addictiveness: 2.0
Appeal Factor: 4.0
Miscellaneous: 3.0

Average: 2.9
Total Score: 3.0 (Bad)

Short Attention Span Summary
I would not, under any circumstances, suggest this game to anyone. It is a boring hack-n-slash game that really has nothing enjoyable in it. The graphics and environments are pretty good at times, but that doesn’t make it fun. This is the type of game I wouldn’t spend $10 on in the bargain bin, and I wish I had those 5 hours of my life back that I spent playing it.