a lot of bugs. Not even great gameplay and fantastic humor
can save a product that was shipped before the all the bugs were stomped out.
Giants: Citizen Kabuto is played
via three races: the Meccaryns, Sea Reapers, and as Kabuto. Each race contains
levels that have sub-missions that are all accessible once they are entered due
to an automatic save feature. This save feature also has a nice feature that stops
it from being a nuisance, during the mission-building portions, replaying a mission
will restart with all of the buildings already up, saving a lot of time. Speaking
of mission building, Giants: Citizen Kabuto is not as much of a real-time
strategy title as it has been touted due to no real management involved, from
buildings being placed in pre-set positions to loose control over your workforce;
these missions, while offering variety, do get a bit lengthy, but fortunately
it is only used once during the Meccaryns portion and a few more times during
Delphi, of the Sea Reapers, portion.
To not get anymore ahead of myself,
let me take a moment to explain the races. The Meccaryns are an advanced alien
race who have crash-landed on an island that is inhabited by a group of odd beings
called Smarties. These creatures are being hunted by Sea Reapers, whom are mythical
creatures that were forced into the ocean after their creation, the giant Kabuto,
turned against them. As the Meccaryns, gamers will get to play with jet packs,
lasers, guided missiles, and all sorts of other hardware. As the Sea Reapers gamers
will play as Delphi, daughter of the Queen, and one of the new generation who
wish to stop the violence and re-establish peace on the island; she uses the environment
and spells to get the job done. Finally, there is Kabuto, whom is his own weapon.
Kabuto kicks, smashes, eats, and impales anything that gets in his way.
Giants: Citizen Kabuto is played in the order of the Meccaryns, Sea Reapers,
and Kabuto. The best way to describe the Meccaryns portion is to compare it to
Kurts portion in MDK 2, minus the jumping puzzles. Their main objective
is to protect the Smarties from the Sea Reapers, which eventually leads them to
Delphi and her quest. While doing their heroic duty, gamers are treated to some
of the funniest material I have ever seen in a game, it even surpasses the dark
humor found in MDK 2. The somewhat crude Smarties are perfectly countered
by their boisterous protectors and offer up some classic cutscenes. Aside from
the jokes, gamers are treated to non-stop action that is livened up by your teammates.
While your fellow teammates suppose to be under your control, I found them fairly
unwilling to do what they were told, but they were rarely stupid enough to get
themselves killed and saved my life more than once, so that was forgiven. The
Meccaryns are also home to the largest portion of levels, clocking in at 23, and
only with the last being one requiring a base to be built.
portion focuses primarily on base building and odd jet ski races. The action isnt
as plentiful as the previous missions, which is a shame since the spells were
fun to toy with, but the action that is experienced is very satisfying. The main
complaint comes not from the lack of action, but from the base building, it simply
takes far too long. When you have to go out and gather Smarties to build the base
and return, only to find it destroyed time and time again, the novelty wears thin.
The jet skiing was also somewhat fun, but was also milked a bit too much as well.
The melee style combat using the deadly turbo boost and sword was a treat and
its a shame it couldnt have been fleshed out better. While not as
well designed as the Meccaryns portion, it was still enjoyable.
Finally, as Kabuto, gamers will basically break everything in sight. His missions
are primarily finding a gate/portal and destroying/entering it. This does get
tiresome, but I still found it fun punting an enemy into a house then turning
around and eating his friends. Both Delphi and Kabutos portions just dont
feel like they were used to their full potential and have a tacked on feeling,
albeit this is somewhat alleviated by the very smooth transition from level to
level, but they still left lingering doubts of what could have been.
What is the biggest shame is the amount of problems in performance I encountered.
I had experience skipping sound and some slowdown randomly, but nothing prepared
me for the hell that was unleashed on the last mission of the Meccaryns. As more
and more enemies filled the screen, the game came to a slow halt and a lot of
the time, the sound just cut out completely. I still felt somewhat fortunate that
I hadnt suffered a fatal crash until I went to check the controls and when
I clicked back into combat, the game crashed giving me the horrid blue screen
of death and this was accompanied by various boots back to my desktop. I
never encountered such problems later on in the other missions, but the game still
lagged and sound still suffered, among other things and when 45 minutes
of a mission is lost to a crash or because the game freezes and your character
was killed during that time (this was much more common), even the funniest material
and pulse-pounding action cant stop the blood pressure from rising.
The graphics have a very exotic look that carries over well with the
various inhabitants. The enemies look nice, but they just dont have a wide
variety of them, but again, they are on an island so I cant expect too many
creatures. The spells, explosions, environment all look stunning and whenever
you see a Sea Reaper force field on the backdrop of a snow covered mountain, it
truly is a thing of beauty. Watching Kabuto toss a Ripper into the air and swallow
it is also a sight to behold, and nothing can beat some of the physical comedy
of the Smarties during the cutscenes. The huge expanding levels are also as much
fun to explore as they are to blow up.
Unfortunately, to get this beauty
you need some serious hardware. My system is well above the recommended specs
and I frequently encountered slowdown that ranged from a skip, to massive, and
in some cases a single enemy or the entire screen would simply stop moving. Another
problem was that the bigger Kabuto got, the harder it was to see the screen and
whenever switching to the first-person mode (inside the mouth view) the polygons
would break up in the center and make gaps that would move with the steps. Beautiful
graphics at a price is acceptable, but whenever resolution and color depth is
lowered on a system above specs and there is not only massive slowdown, but also
clipping problems, that just isnt acceptable.
The music was also a problem that I encountered frequently, even before
the graphic hang-ups. The music would st-st-st-stutter often and after a few missions,
it would cut out altogether for a few seconds. The background music never differed
enough for me to take note of any track changes, but it was also pleasant enough
to not become tiresome. Most of the time the sounds heard where of explosions
and laser blasters from all sides, or the rumbling from the grounds underneath
as a Ripper was closing in for the kill.
Despite the performance hiccups,
I found that the voices more than made up for the problems. Each race has an eccentric
version of an accent, as the Smarties talk a bit Scottish and the Meccaryns have
a hint of Australian, but they all have their own unique twist and it comes off
very well, in both manner and timing, during the cutscenes.
for the weapons always seemed to have a slight lag to them as well, but due to
the fact that it was extremely difficult to hit a target and I had to shoot the
ground for the splash damage, I found it only troublesome in a few areas. There
was also never a real smooth flow with the cursor as aiming was a problem, especially
with in sniper mode, and this was odd since the Meccaryns jetpack rides where
handled more smoothly and Delphi seemed to move with less lag. The menu mouse
cursor was also extremely slow, so I highly advise gamers to use the number keys
when selecting spells as Delphi or you might find yourself getting killed more
than you would like. Overall, when it ran smooth, it was very natural (despite
odd key placements) and controlled just how you would want a title with so much
to do, but this just didnt happen enough and remained something to look
forward to instead of the norm.
Bugs, slowdown, crashes, and sound stutters still couldnt stop
Giants: Citizen Kabuto from being an exceptional title. The variety, the
humour, and the sheer length of the game made it one of the most enjoyable titles
I have played in a very long time. Yes, all of the problems did annoy me, but
it never once stopped me from going right back and playing again. If everything
ran smoothly, I would have no hesitation in giving a 9 rating, but because of
the problems, I simply cant reward a released product with so bugs. To be
honest, I loved Giants and having the various annoyances broke my heart
because it was just so much fun to play. If you have the patience and the system,
I would recommend it just to watch the banter between the Smarties and the Meccaryns,
not to mention to experience the great gameplay. Planet Moon has a genuine classic
on their hands, all they need to do is polish it up.