|Giants: Citizen Kabuto has been in development for a long time, and even
though we saw it at the last couple E3s, we could never quite figure out exactly what the
game was about. These guys from Planet Moon would show us the game in action, and
there were lots of bright colors and weird goings-on, but why this stuff was going on or
how it was supposed to constitute a game was something we didnt snap to. The
occasional screenshot or trailer was no help, eitherall we knew up until
Kabutos release was that it looked really great, like nothing else wed
ever seen before, and in one of those astonishing leaps of logic that were
well-known for we assumed it would also play like nothing else wed ever seen
We were half-right. So far as gameplay goes,
Giants: Citizen Kabuto is an all-out third-person action shooter with a dash of resource
management and base building thrown in, and it plays about like a lot of other good games.
But if Giants gameplay is fairly standard, its graphics, sound, setting, dialogue,
story and attitude are as engaging and original as anything weve seen this year.
Even if you find Giants gameplay repetitive, youll keep playing just to get to
the next cool weapon or cut scene or map. Or joke. If youre a fan of British humor,
youre in for a special treat.
Giants begins when representatives from one of the games three races,
the Meccaryns, crash land on the Island whilst on their way to some R&R on
swingin Planet Majorca. At first all
they want to do is repair their spaceship and get on with the trip to Majorca, but they
quickly become entangled in a conflict between the Smarties, bubble-headed residents of
the Island, and the Sea Reapers, led by the evil Queen Sappho. Sappho also has a problem
with Kabuto, a giant monster the Sea Reapers originally created to protect the Island, but
who eventually turned against the Reapers and chased them from the Island. Add to this the
complication that Sapphos daughter Delphi doesnt approve of her moms way
of doing things and has a bit of a crush on the Meccaryns leader, and youve
got the background for the consistently engaging storyline that develops throughout the
games single-player campaign.
In the first part
of the campaign, youll take the role of the Meccaryns. The Meccs are a bunch of
space suited limey yobs who appreciate technology, and are thus armed with an arsenal of
hardcore firepower. Though theyll start with a mere handgun, as the campaign
progresses the Meccs will receive such weapons as machine guns, sniper rifles, RPGs, and
mortars. The Meccs are also equipped with a backpack, and upgrades allow it to be used as
a jetpack, a portable camouflage bush, and a repair tool--or just to tote around bombs and
portable turrets. The Meccs also get a very handy (though fragile) gyrocopter to tool
around in. As the Meccaryn campaign progresses, your scattered mates will join up with
you, and in the later missions youll be commanding up to four other Meccs.
Throughout the campaign, youll be forced to fight against not only evil Sea Reapers
and Kabuto, but also indigenous life forms like the Rippers.
The Sea Reaper
campaign finds you taking the role of Sapphos rebellious daughter Delphi. Sea
Reapers like magic, not technology, and Delphis main weapons are a collection of
very wicked bows that fire a variety of very nasty arrows. The nastiest of these is the
power-up bow, which fires multiple homing arrows and can take out a half-dozen enemies
with one shot. But Delphis real power lies in her magic spells, which are innovative
and dazzling. You can cast hailstorms and
firewalls on enemies, and an utterly cool tornado spell will sweep your opponents into the
skies. While Delphi has a very nice turbo move and a teleport spell, shes also
equipped with a Reaperski, which is (more on this later) sort of a mixed blessing.
In the Kabuto
campaign you finally get to play the giant monster, and this guy doesnt need weapons
or magic. Hes just a brute force of nature, and while you can pick up enemies and
throw them as a ranged attack or use a gemstone as a magnifying glass to roast opponents,
most of the time youll use various hand-to-hand moves, like the elbow drop or the
butt flop, to crush your enemies.
While the campaign
is long and has plenty of action-packed gameplay, its also surprisingly easy to
beat. Mostly this is because you can win almost every mission by using long-range weapons
of mass destruction to obliterate the enemy--as Delphi, you can win most missions without
ever using your spells. The fact that enemy
AI is a little spotty doesn't exactly raise the difficulty bar either, and since there's
only one difficulty level, the campaign game doesn't have a ton of replay value. And while
most missions have an amusing premise, most of them also play out in very much the same
wayeither you work your way across the map while killing everything in sight, or you
build a base and defend it from swarms of enemies. The only real exceptions to these
mission types are the reaperski races youll find in the Delphi section of the
campaign. Theyre fun at first, but there are a few too many of them, and they wear
out their welcome pretty quickly.
But Giants has
several qualities that make up for its fairly ordinary gameplay. Chief amongst these is
its graphics, which are beautiful. Giants takes place on lush islands, and they look by
god lush; trees sway in the breeze, sunlight ripples off the waves, the skies are bright
and shimmering, brilliant lens-flare effects abound. The whole color palette evokes the
sort of tropical-paradise effect you get from tourist brochures. Sound is excellent, from
the curiously orchestral soundtrack to the superb voice acting, and the games got a
great sense of humor, too. Like No One Lives Forever, the (often bawdy) cut scenes in
Giants are one of the best parts of the game. The combination of innovative setting, great
sight and sound, and generally wacky ambience probably would have been enough to overcome
my reservations about the games fun-but-repetitive gameplay, but a few other ugly
problems keep this one out of the five-star range.
first of them: theres no in-mission save. While the missions are generally pretty
easy to beat and engaging, its still a pain in the ass to work your way through an
entire mission, only to get fragged at the end and have to do the whole thing over again.
People play games for fun, and the sort of tedium induced by replaying missions is way too
much like real life to be fun. It doesnt help any that Giants is also a little
buggy. Screwing up and having to play a mission over is a drag, but hey, youve got
nobody but yourself to blame. On the other hand, when a game crashes to your desktop and
you have to replay a missionas happens too often in Giantsits grounds
for some serious finger-pointing.
multiplayer is also sloppily implemented. The game contains just a few maps, and there are
no dedicated servers. While I was able to play several games through Gamespy, good
low-ping connections were hard to come by. This is especially disappointing because the
few multiplayer games that had decent pings were a blast. Heres hoping a major
multiplayer patch is in the works.
But overall Giants
is a beautiful and fun game, and well worth any action gamers time. Just be prepared
for some occasional frustration.