|CodeName Eagle Review
At one time, erik and I worked at night in a lab at Case Western Reserve University here
in Cleveland. We babysat a roomfull of cows while they were held in place by
harnesses and given giant, running sores by a machine that was a cross between a robot, a
tank, and a belt sander. We had two jobs: if a cow became overly agitated, one of
us, usually erik, would have to wade into the screaming herd and administer a sedative to
it. And then to us. When a cow looked suitably injured, we pressed a button
and a cart came and took the cow into another room that we couldn't see where it was
sprayed with an experimental anti-bacterial solution, which was the point of the whole
operation, apparently. The point of the story is, if we were paying
(instead of the other way around) for the privilege of being, as we called ourselves,
scientists, we would never have stuck around to see what happened after the part where
erik gave us both a cow sedative.
We've decided to apply what we learned when we
were wage-slave scientists to game reviewing: Either we enjoy ourselves, or we quit.
Unlike some professional gamers, we pay for our games. We used to think that
we needed to solve a game before we unleashed a review of it. We'd bought into the
line of crap delivered by some of the more sanctimonious gaming pundits which states that
a "real" reviewer always slogs through the whole thing, because it "might
get better." You know what? Hell with that. We're not getting a
degree from the U. of Firing Squad. Here's a note to developers regarding what we
hope will become an industry-wide policy: if your game has some good parts, try to put
them at the fucking beginning. It takes us ten hours of dismal labor to
earn enough money to buy your game, so please commence the entertainment early on.
If possible, pack something fun right into the box, for instance a balloon. Instead
of padding out your games with junk levels, take a cue from Monolith and release the truly
unplayable garbage as a separate mission pack.
With that in mind, here's our new rule: if a game can't manage to provide some thrills
in the first hour, it gets a bad review. Welcome to the new era of common
sense. Developers have one goddamn job: entertain us. And we mean now,
goddamnit, not in six hours. When we're stomping Levelord's head at E3 and it sucks
for him, should we continue simply because at some later point he might die and maybe go
to heaven, the best level of existence? From his point of view, probably not.
Likewise, FAKK2 better be fun right away.
Codename: Eagle, the first game we're reviewing using our new system, fails. We
played two shitty levels. Maybe it gets better later. Who knows. But
neither you, nor I, nor even erik should have to find out. When you're playing it,
the important thing is that it's not better now.
The intro sets the tone for the game. There's a huge battle. It's the "Time of
Heroes." Then it flashes forward ten years. Talonsoft is letting you know early
on that you aren't man enough for the Time of Heroes so they have to set the game in some
other era, which has the displeasing effect of making you feel like a big pussy right
Even though you're no hero, it's easy to survive in CE. The enemies - Russians who speak
English in a German accent - like to run right at the sound of gunfire. "Vut
ees dot noise? Vut ees dot moossle flash? OH!"
With most games, you are treated to something special in the first level. Do you
remember the scripted event in first level of Unreal? You probably played the rest
of the game just waiting for one more scripted event. CE doesn't bother. It
starts off with you jumping in the back of a truck that can't stay on the
road. It seems Talonsoft couldn't figure out how to handle AI pathing of
vehicles. Your driver just plows over trees and even a soldier (with no reaction
from the nearby soldiers). The only way this talented team can get the truck to stop
is by having it recreate a scene from a Fox special, the driver plows the truck into the
side of a building.
At least that's funny and unintentionally entertaining. But that's as good as CE
gets. The handgun, rifle and motorized guns use the same ammo and have the same effect and
range. Chain-link fences are bulletproof. All the vehicles handle like
hovercars - the kind of hovercars that have bad handling. Did I mention everyone runs
right at you? Or that the game takes place in an alternate universe? All of this
might actually work if we truly did live in an alternate universe where so many games
better than the first two levels of Codename: Eagle weren't released on a regular basis.
Alternate Universe is a good euphemism for both "Limitations of The Engine" and
"Dumb". Thanks to erik for taking the time to write one of his short plays
about this topic starring the staff of Talonsoft:
Staff 1:"Why can't you go into any of the buildings, even though soldiers come out of
them and live in them?"
Staff 2:"In an alternate universe, no buildings have doors you can open from the
outside. They are 'one-use' buildings."
Staff 1:"Why do all the vehicles float?"
Staff 2:"In an alternate universe, all the vehicles float."
Staff 1: "Why do the Russians sound German?"
Staff 2: "They... Hmm..."
Staff 1: "Could that be how things are in an alternate universe?"
Staff 2: "Yes."
I will give the programmers at Talonsoft some credit. They have extended the alternate
universe concept to the interface. Gone is our reality's quick-save. To
save, you must escape out of the game, go to the save menu, then save in one of 10 slots.
We've always found the quick-save feature to be annoyingly helpful, bordering on
Also, I suppose Codename: Eagle is something of a technical triumph for
Talonsoft. In their last big hit, Operational Art of War, you chose your map by starting
different executables. At least this time they managed to cram everything into one
program. Or maybe level three is a separate exe, I wouldn't know.
Another feature of our new era of reviewing is that we're no longer going to try to wrap
things up with a pithy summary. Instead, we're going to speculate on what lucky
tragedy might tend to slow the development team down as they're grinding out their next
awful product. Say the staff at Talonsoft had their hands cut off - it might be a
long time before they released another game.
|After our Blaze & Blade review we were
appalled to discover that people wanted to play the game because of our negative
comments. We wrote that review specifically to encourage you to avoid
Blaze & Blade. Did you turn to your date at the end of Schindler's List
and, while thoughtfully rubbing your chin, say, "you know, I should really start a
Holocaust"? To try to burn some fear into the lumps of coal our readers use for
hearts, we're going to utilize this screenshot space to review something so terrible, you
couldn't possibly misinterpret our message: the life of singer Eddie Money.
Before he discovered music, Eddie was a NYC cop.
Eddie's First Album, released in 1977. It was during this period that
he earned the nickname "the man with no control of his bladder." Record
execs shortened it to "the man with no control", which made it sound like he
couldn't control his all all-night rock n' roll rampages and his appetite for chicks and
drag racing. Associates still knew it mostly meant his bladder.
Eddie then proceeded to make four other forgettable albums and one
unforgettably annoying album with shakin' as the hit single.
Here's Eddie's last non greatest hits album. It contains the single Broken
Down Chevy (God Only Knows). Nobody's ever heard this song, though some people
will tell you they have.
The word "baby" is prominently featured in 8 of the 11
Not letting Eddie's complete lack of any actual hits stand in its way, his
record company has released a total of 6 "greatest hits" albums. He has
released a greatest hits album every year for the last 4 years.
The number of non-greatest hits albums that eddie has created? 6.
Still thinking you might want to listen to some eddie money?
Here are the complete lyrics for his biggest hit.