Friday 13 August 2010

X-Men: The Ravages of Apocalypse

This is not a joke.

In 1997 Zero Gravity Entertainment were given the rights to produce an X-Men first person shooter built off the Quake engine. The two franchises don't really mix but nevertheless here lies X-Men: The Ravages of Apocalypse for Windows and DOS based PCs.

It's a barrel of laughs, and I wouldn't have known about it if it weren't for Kotaku of all places.

As it is essentially a Quake mod, Ravages of Apocalypse needs a copy of Quake to run. As a result, it didn't get very far in life, as consumers were forced to buy two products in order to play, and in theory both products were aimed at different audiences. Ravages of Apocalypse is an oddball, however, as it gets the player to kill X-Men clones in surprisingly brutal ways. It's not one for the kids.

As a... cyborg Magneto... you need to destroy all of... Apocalypse's X-Men clones. So essentially you're the bad guy fighting another bad guy who is cloning good guys (I think... I don't follow the comics). Rather than use the power of magnetism you're armed with a variety of weapons for blasting people's faces off. It's like a fan made this game as a joke.

I've played a lot of Doom in my time but not so much Quake. PC gaming in the late 1990s was a period I mostly missed out on, as everyone I knew had video game consoles and were hyping the latest PlayStation release. As such, the first person shooter genre grew up behind my back - I had Quake on the Sega Saturn but dismissed it after x number of levels as my eight or nine year old self found the constant dark settings and lack of music unappealing. I had no idea that it was the foundation for all 3D first person shooters to date... to me it just looked boring and half finished.

And it does raise a few good questions. The Saturn/PS1 ports of Doom are panned by Doom fans because it removed all the music and made things much darker. But to then like Quake which follows a similar pattern?.. hmm...

Even to this date I don't find Quake as fun as Doom. Perhaps it's because the controls still weren't standardised - there's no WASD + mouse movement yet which makes controlling things awkward if you're running the original versions. You could play the "realism" card when describing the settings but I still have my doubts about that. We're still dealing with low polygon counts and blocky textures... it still doesn't look all that realistic to me. I can admire it for being an industry landmark, but it's not my favourite landmark by any means.

Mods of Quake tend to have the same issues of the original though. When you see brightly coloured X-Men you expect to hear some music, but alas, there is none, and this puts it at a disadvantage when compared to say, the arcade fighting games or the games released in the video game hardware generations previous to this.

Also as hilarious as the mod is, it's still mostly Quake. It still feels like Quake, it still looks a bit like Quake and I think a lot of the sound effects are just recycled from Quake. Outside of the X-Men models the game doesn't seem to have much personality of its own, and so it's difficult to justify why one would purchase this over one of the free Quake mods that bother to spice gameplay up a bit.

But you can shoot X-Men characters in the face, and they die a bloody death in front of you. You don't get that anywhere else. It's a difficult game if you don't have things set up right and the settings don't change much, but I found it strangely interesting and it's not too hard to find on the net. Maybe it'll work for you.

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