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Posted by moonhead on Sep 23, 2011
Review: Rise Of Nightmares / Kinect / Sega

Review: Rise Of Nightmares / Kinect / Sega

Rise of nightmares or rather out of your armchair.

It has been a bumper year or two for the undead in the world of video games but this is a real first. Why I hear you all scream? Well, Rise Of Nightmares is the first mature 18 rated game to launch for Kinect and the first time you have actually been able to literally get hands on with the brain munching meat bags and beat them senseless by flailing you arms like a loon.

In the game you play Josh who is on holiday in Romania with his wife Kate. Obviously it being a horror game things pretty quickly take a turn for the worse when the train you are on crashes. Your wife’s taken by a mad, demented scientist called Victor who is carrying out twisted experiments on the dead. So you set out to find her whilst reducing the brain munchers to pulp. There is a bit more to it than this but I don’t want to give too much away and to be honest the story is never going to win the Booker prize. Quite rightly the developers have set the tone for the game firmly in the horror B-movie. This allows an easy backdrop for loads of violence, gore and bloodshed. It is very reminiscent of Sega’s House of the Dead with purposefully silly Engrish dialogue and over-the-top voice-acting.

So how does it play, well for a Kinect only title pretty damn well considering Kinect’s limitations as an input device.  The control setup takes a little getting used to, but after a while becomes second nature. The control system actually lets you move about in a 3D space, a Kinect first. To move forward simply place one of your feet out in front of you, the further out the faster you go, reverse the movement to go backwards. To turn left or right simply turn your shoulders left and right, as I mentioned previously it feels a little ungainly a first but you soon get used to it.

The melee only combat controls exactly how you think it would, take a boxing stance and swing to hack and scythe at the enemies, and to block raise both your arms in front of your face. There also context sensitive motions for interacting with the game world such as opening doors or pushing items out of your way. It would seem however that any gesture at these points will do as just about doing any movement will bring about the correct action on-screen. The other control function is an auto walk function that allows the game to walk you down the correct path in the right direction, you do this by raising you right arm at a right-angle and holding it there until you have no need for it. The control scheme can be get a bit messy when a lot is going on on-screen and in the heat of the moment when you are making several movements quite quickly Kinect can misread your movements. However in the main it works just fine.

The sound and graphics are all of a good standard, albeit not genre or generation defining but they do create a decent amount of tension and suspense as well as being properly gruesome. The game is not going to scare you but it does keep you on the edge of your… er, feet (Not seat as it can only be played standing). As mentioned, the acting and script are purposefully over-played and this also helps with the atmosphere.

Over all Rise Of Nightmares is certainly better than a lot of the horrifically family friendly generic shovelware (Which I find infinitely more scary than this to be honest.) that is available for Kinect but in the end it’s just above average. The gameplay is just too simple and repetitive. All you do is walk around mindlessly swinging your arms to pummel the next undead meat bag in front of you. The game does try to switch things up with some sort of QTE style things like swimming across a lake and then having to swat off leeches on your arms. Plus there are some pretty unique gaming moments like having to cover your ears to stop you hearing an opera singing Zombie. But in the end they fail to save the game from being a fairly generic arcade romp. Not that there is anything particularly wrong with a good old fashioned arcade romp.

I did enjoy my time with Rise of Nightmares but it did get very samey towards the end and it definitely doesn’t lend itself to repeat play.  But Sega need to be commended for bringing something to Kinect that has not been done before and for a genuinely innovative control scheme. It’s just a shame that the game is merely okay and not good let alone great.

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