• Daemon Vector Review - Microsoft Xbox

    Pop quiz: Take a guess which is the odd one out. 1) Video Games, 2) Films, 3) Music. Answer: Video Games. For the simple reason that bad songs and bad films can often become incredibly funny. If you've ever experienced films such as Dolemite, or songs from the Villain Thievz, then you'll agree. Bad video games cannot ever be funny.

    The reason? Firstly, the cost. Imagine spending £40 on a prostitute and realising that she's blind, and that ’she’ is a he. That wouldn't be funny. Secondly, games tend to last longer than your typical song and film, and listening to Enya for sixty hours wouldn't exactly be fun, either. As Stan unfortunately found out in South Park. Thirdly, it's an interactive pastime rather than a passive one. Watching someone get badly hurt can quite often raise a smile, but getting hurt badly yourself isn't what you'd call pleasant.

    Daemon Vector begins promisingly. A decent front end welcomes you, yet it doesn't take long until you realise that the developers must have spent three times as long designing this than the actual game. You choose your main character - either a male or female - and it's away to hack, slash and yawn your way through an innumerable amount of samey levels until you fall into a coma, or do the sensible thing and hunt down the creators of this drivel armed with a shemale prostitute, a mallet and your Gran’s Enya collection.

    That fateful instant when you push the analogue stick to move your onscreen avatar is the worst. When static – when there’s no movement on the screen at all – the game almost looks semi-pretty. It's when that integral thing called "movement" occurs that it all falls to pieces. The character shuffles along as if cacti have been growing inside their bumcheeks from when they were knee high to a grasshopper and, to make it worse, the camera insists on pointing downwards at a 45 degree angle so you can't tend to see what's up ahead. Then again, perhaps that's a good idea, as what's up ahead isn't pretty.

    Attempting to describe the 'entity' that is Daemon Vector is quite a challenge, likened to trying to guess which family member a three year old has drawn in reception class. It features the best and worst of games such as Dynasty Warriors, Diablo and even Resident Evil, yet completely fails to come close to any of them. No, not even Diablo. It's a third-person hack and slash game, set in Medieval times, against hordes of zombies, ogres and wraiths. And not a lot else, actually. You begin the game in a ruined city, walking along a hideously linear path and killing enemies with your sword that couldn't be used as an aid to fight through a wet paper screen. Each enemy requires a hideous amount of hits before they perish, which wouldn't be a problem if the combat had any fun in it.

    And that leads us nicely onto the lowlight of the title, the combat. The facet which every game of this type lives or dies by, and by God does this one die spectacularly. You have a massive array of combo (notice the singular there) to vanquish the dead with. Yep, one measly combo, an uppercut, and a special spinning move too, which can only be used when the constantly regenerating bar fills up. The uppercut is diabolically fiddly to connect with, and why you'd ever want to bother with it is quite beyond this reviewer’s comprehension. Devil May Cry and Bujingai implemented fantastic uppercuts, whereby you could knock opponents up in the air to continue dishing the pain, but in Daemon Vector the opponent has already hit the floor by the time the uppercut animation (and therefore your chance to flow into your combo) has finished. You can stick your sword into an opponent when they are fallen to cause more damage, but this is the game’s only highlight.

    The appalling attempts at creating tension are rather amusing also. Cut-scenes are possibly the scariest parts of the game - not for the content, but because they have you bashing the buttons wanting it to end. This is because, as the cut-scene is being shown, your main character is still getting attacked by enemies. There's no pause in the action, it's the enemies’ chance to get their own back! There's nothing more tense (well, in this game) than watching two characters conversing whilst you can hear your player in the distance moaning as a dog is nipping his ankles. And if that's not enough, one of the levels is set in a dingy underground sewer. After fighting through hundreds of zombies, you enter a narrow passageway, the doors lock, and something begins to crawl out of the sewer pipe next to you! Is it some kind of uber-zombie wanting to bite off your head?! No, it's just a standard zombie, the type of which you have killed hundreds of times before. These crazy developers just know how to give us something we don't expect!

    Some games have decent graphics or sounds to cover up against the black hole of a game found within. Daemon Vector has decided to go against all conventions yet again, by featuring the oddest sounds and the dullest graphics ever in a videogame. For example, the squelches whilst walking in water arguably sound like how Stephen Hawking would give head (complete with metallic rasping), and things like shadows mysteriously flicker on and off, as if the game constantly decides whether to include them or not. Most of the time, the engine gives up. Which is a shame, as it's powered by Criterion's powerful RenderWare middleware, responsible for such multi-platform greatness as Burnout.

    Daemon Vector also scores incredibly badly in the "Start-to-Crate" time, a system pioneered by Old Man Murray. Described as the "actual formula for the world's first completely unbiased review methodology", Daemon Vector takes a whole twenty seconds to find the first crate. Not afraid to lay waste to all trusted game design practices, however, not a single crate contains any health, ammo or items! These developers have thrown us yet another curve ball!