Review: The War of the Worlds (XBLA)

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Being a huge fan of Sci-fi, a title like this is something i was hoping to see for a long time, i was totally delighted with this. Other Ocean and Paramount Digital Entertainment bring The War of the Worlds to Xbox Live Arcade.
First, let’s clear something up for those wondering if The War of the Worlds is based on the movie by Steven Spielberg, back in the year 2005, the answer is no. I loved the movie but im glad to see this game is a direct adaptation from the classic novel by H.G. Wells. Sorry Tom Cruise fans, he is not in the game.

The War of the Worlds

Story
You play as Arthur Clarke, during these cataclysmic events you are trying to survive in search of your family. These events are a parallel history and take place at the same time of the movie from 1953.

Gameplay
The War of the Worlds is a side scroller and an interactive movie at the same time, the story really hooks you in from the beginning and you make your way throughout the ruins of the city with Patrick Stewart’s fantastic narration. The enviroment is tense and full of suspense, giving the game a very original vibe and feeling, assuming it’s what the developers wanted to achieve and i think they did it right. These elements encourage you to keep playing to the end.
The game truly captures the feeling of the classic movie adaptation and you will find yourself hiding and running away from drones, mechanical spiders and giant walkers. (Oh man, looks amazing when they vaporize people!) Truth be told, your character, cant do much at first except jump and roll, pretty much that’s it.

You can push boxes to put out fire or to kill small enemies, except for a couple times this is not something common in early stages of the game. Later on as you progress you will face challenges like puzzles that will require almost 120% accuracy, if you don’t want to die, sometimes more challenging than desired. You can also roll if you are caught on fire to put out the flames, make use of the red weed the aliens are spreading and so on. Did i say you can jump and roll yes? Okay, i wanted to be sure.

The War of the Worlds

Graphics: 7/10
I can say they did a magnificent work with the graphics, it really makes you feel that your’e watching an old film from the 50’s. Details are fantastic, especially watching some giant walkers in the background, the city in ruins, details that are worth looking at.
Scenery is supposed to be dark, showing devastation, but it can be extremely dark leading to uncalled for deaths or just leaving you without a clue of where to go next.

Sound: 9/10
Probably one of the strongest points in The War of the Worlds, as said before Patrick Stewart’s narration is top notch, but also the music, sounds effects and the BBC broadcasts really suck you into the mood of the classic sci-fi story in an awesome way, just wow.. kudos and respect to the developers for this!

The War of the Worlds

Downsides
Hmmm, sigh… The War of the Worlds has a few negative aspects that will take away the gold medal, they really break my litle geek heart. First the controls, they are too clumsy and not very responsive.
If you want to climb to a platform you have to be just below it, a little to the right or left and you do not get up, running, jumping, climbing… you have to be (as said before) 120% accurate if you want to complete the game, to the point that it can be frustrating.
I think i was vaporized 10-15 times in a level, before i was able to complete it, the timing is challenging and really unforgiving. Seriously i will take off my hat to people getting to the end of the game without dying and obtaining the achievement.

The War of the Worlds

Overall
As a homage to the classic novel and movie, The War of The Worlds truly hooks you in with the excellent narration, is described by the developers as a love letter, and it’s true, it’s undeniable and as a interactive movie the game delivers what it promises with quality.
This Xbox Live Arcade title is a love and hate relationship…first you love it, as previosly mentioned, the narration is amazing, graphically looks fabulous and you truly love that as a fan of the novel and the movies.
But as a platformer you may hate it, sadly this is where The War of the Worlds disappoints, lacking a lot of good elements and the only thing keeping you playing until the end is the narration and the thrilling story. I can recommend the game to hardcore fans or gamers that don’t mind a challenge that at times can make you feel frustrated.

We give the game a 6.5 out of 10

~Mario