When I play shooting games on the PS2 like Medal of Honor, I sometimes just wish I had a real gun to make all the shooting easier. A controller is just not as realistic as having a real gun in your hands.
So it was with surprise that Empire Interactive sent in Endgame for review. Of course since we did not have a gun in the lab, they also sent along a giant green .50 Desert Eagle light gun. The gun itself is pretty interesting, and looks and feels just like a real .50 hand cannon, other than the fact that it is light and made of green plastic.
Light guns and games are nothing new. Heck, I used to play Duck Hunt with one back on the first generation Nintendo console. After that, American Laser Games used to make some fine titles for the PC -with live actors- that required a big orange .44 magnum. But for whatever reason, games like that have never been all that popular, except in the arcade where you can still see lines at various gun-type titles. Anyway, the game itself is quite a lot of fun, though not all that different from any of the other light gun titles out there, or even really significantly different from my old Duck Hunt.
Players take on the role of Jade Cornell, who developers Cunning Developments have tried really hard to make look like the girl from the TV show Alias. That’s my impression. Anyway, she is a typical shooter babe.
You start the game sitting in your apartment. Cornell comes home and switches on the television. This is actually a cool way to get training for the main game, because she turns on her game console to a classic game where she uses a game gun to shoot cartoon aliens. As you practice shooting the cute little fellas, you can get used to your gun, and also do some calibration work if you need to do a bit of tweaking. Basically, the game inside the game gets you ready for the "real life" part.
Eventually when you are ready to play, you can start the main game. When you do, the phone rings. When Cornell answers it, a friend has a grave warning that someone is going to try and kill her, and to grab a gun he taped behind the refrigerator. Before you can say "What the heck?," the door is kicked down and armed men stream into the apartment.
This sets the pace for the rest of the game. Basically, you have to shoot the bad guys before they shoot you. You can set it up so that by default, your character ducks behind cover. Then you can press a button, on the gun I was using you squeeze the handle, to rise up into a shooting position. Then you just pull the trigger and aim at the bad guys, who are alternatively shooting back at you and ducking behind cover yourself.
You automatically run along a pre-determined track and everywhere you go you have both the vulnerable shooting position and the invulnerable hiding position. But you can’t just stay hidden the entire time. There is a clock and you have to kill all the enemies before it runs out. The clock will add some time to the countdown deadline when you clear stages, and sometimes you can shoot special bad guys – generally ones near the back of the screen – to add a few more seconds as well.
You also take damage when you get shot. The bad guys can kill you if you don’t use your cover smartly, or you are slow in killing them. Probably however, you are going to run out of time before you get killed that way. I wish you could disable the game timer. Granted that would make the game less heart-pounding, but I think the satisfaction comes from being a marksman, not from beating the clock. Just a suggestion.
As you continue to play you will visit exciting places all over Europe. The plot of the game is a bit odd. You are trying to stop a corporation from starting up a virtual reality game that in fact is a form of mind control. This corporation happens to have a standing army larger than Bolivia. With as many bad guys as that, you would think they would just try to take over the world by force. I guess they don’t because most of them are terrible shots.
You can’t save anywhere in the game, which is probably my single biggest complaint. If you die, you will end up sitting back in your apartment waiting for a phone call again. Practice does make perfect, but after about the fifth time through I had all the bad guy locations memorized for the early levels, when all I really wanted to do was duke it out with the final boss man one more time.
At parties, this would be a perfect game. It’s pretty visual, and one guy won’t monopolize the entire game. I set it up as a side game at a LAN party for folks who were knocked out of the RTS early to have fun with, and it ended up being a centerpiece for quite a while.
In a limited market, Endgame is the best of its breed. The graphics are good, the soundtrack is acceptable and the action is very intense. Endgame shoots its way to an impressive 4 GiN Gem rating. Just remember that if you buy the game, you will also have to shell out some cash to get a decent shooting iron.