You shot a HARE !! You got 2 meats. - Review By Mr. Domino
Warp gained notoriety back in 1995 when it released D. Originally a 3DO title, D was the
first game to feature Laura, a CG woman Warp uses as a "digital actress." The
second game to feature Laura was 1997's Enemy Zero on the Sega Saturn, yet somehow
the third game got called D2. But despite the name, D2 has no connection whatsoever to the first
D. If that sounds bizarre, it is, but then Warp has always been a bizarre
company. The company recently renamed itself Superwarp and has changed its
focus, meaning that D2 could very well be Warp's (err, Superwarp's) last game.
This isn't as bad a thing as it sounds, as Warp isn't exactly known for making good
games. In fact, it was only a combination of really nice cinematography and Kenji
Eno's (Warp's president) fascination with blond American women that put Warp on
the map in the first place. D was fabulously stylish and looked great -- an entire game
rendered in CGI FMV -- but ultimately wasn't much fun to play. Enemy Zero
used the cinema gameplay along with a FPS engine, but the game was
unfortunately far too difficult to enjoy thanks to its use of invisible
enemies and an inept gun. D2 finally fixes this by using a Resident Evil-inspired
engine for movement between buildings, at which point the game switches
back to the "classic" D-style cinema-based gameplay. It looks like
Warp has finally given Laura a playable game. But is it any good? Does the
unique formula work? Let's see.
Kenji Eno has always come across to me as a musician who happens to head a
video game company. While the guy can't make a good game or write a decent script for the life of him, he
certainly has a great ear for music. The soundtrack in D2 is fantastic. Using a nice
mix of atmospheric chimes, rising nervous violins, and even electronic
funk, the soundtrack is varied and always appropriate. It's really a shame
that there is no option to listen to the music outside of the game, but I guess that's
what import soundtracks are for. The sound effects are well done, too,
although the weaponry sounds a bit light and the monsters a bit silly. The
voice acting is also pretty decent. The actors sound a bit too
restrained during certain parts, but otherwise manage to read their lines
convincingly. Given the large amount of dialogue in the game, this is
certainly a plus.
The landscapes can be quite picturesque.
As expected by anyone who has experience with prior Warp games, D2 has
great atmosphere and uses its music and camera angles well. The camera
moves and slides around Laura, always adding tension... even if she is just
opening a door for the millionth time. In fact, that does become a bit of a
nuisance since almost every action Laura does, no matter how trite it may
be, cuts to a cutscene. Fortunately, these can be canceled while playing
unless the events in question are important to witness. Eno brings D2 closer to Resident Evil
this time around with more shocking stuff and gore than a presidential
campaign, though it's few and far between. The stuff that's there is pretty
disturbing, though -- the game alternates between the gross out stuff and
some outright bizarre events to keep you on the edge of your seat. What few
disturbing scenes are in the game are well thought out, and D2 thankfully
doesn't resort to cheesy tactics and gore just for the sake of having blood
and guts in the game.
Laura's friend Kimberly also is well developed, a necessity since she's the
main person you interact with throughout of the game. Kimberly reveals
enough background information and reacts realistically enough to make her a
believable character, far more so than Laura. Her personality fits her
background, which is interesting as we learn it. She is a noted presence in
the game as opposed to a tag along for Laura. Parker, another character in the
game, is also well done, although we don't get to see much of him. The rest
of the cast tend to be well-acted and scripted, although they often feel
out of place -- random people in Canada giving speeches to Laura. While these
soliloquies are often interesting on their own, they just don't blend into the
overall plot as well as Kimberly's story.
Laura's makeup is always perfect, even 10 days after a horrific plane crash.
When Kimberly wasn't talking and making the game semi-interesting, I'd take
Laura out back and hunt. Hunting is the enjoyable part of the game. While
you will find first aid cans scattered throughout the mountain side, Laura
can also replenish her health by eating animals she hunts. While trekking
across Canada you'll sometimes spot rabbits, birds, or caribou in the
distance. Laura carries a rifle with her, and she uses it to snipe at food.
Using the rifle is a bit shaky (just like using the sniper rifle in Metal
Gear Solid) and rather difficult to aim, though you get better with practice. The
game keeps track of what and how much you've hunted, and it all makes for
an unintentional but enjoyable side game. D2 also lets Laura take photographs
(saved to the VMU), but the snapshots come out as a pixelated mess, ruining
what could have been a novel, fun idea.
I have never, ever seen a story as stupid and pretentious as the one in D2. In the credits
Eno thanks Hideo Kojima (famed Metal Gear Solid producer), yet nothing
about D2 comes close to matching Kojima's masterpiece. That's sad, considering D2
has been in development for a much longer time and occupies more discs.
Every once in a while we're treated to live footage of violence in the
world while Mother Earth instructs Laura to do junk. Eno tries so hard to
tie a political message into this tripe, but none of it connects. D2 is
basically a bad, terrible, gut wrenchingly awful art film. With mutant aliens. And clones.
And dinosaurs. And miracle makeup compacts. It's all there.
Laura, who I remind readers is the main character of the game, doesn't
talk. She gasps. She'll pick up a bottle and gasp. She'll open a door and
gasp. When characters talk to her, they not only have to tell her what
they're saying but also have to fill in for her (lack of) dialogue as well. Laura just
nods, and smiles. You'll get better character interaction from watching old
Lassie reruns than you will with D2. She does acquire a vocabulary of four
or so words near the end of the game, but by then it's too late. You don't
care. I should mention that this is a consistent "feature" of Warp's other
Laura games, but that doesn't make it any more enjoyable.
Next: More Bad and The Final Word