Let me welcome you to the first survival horror game specially designed for use on the Xbox 360 Kinect system. Let me set the mood, you play as Josh, travelling through Europe with your lovely wife, Kate, when suddenly your train derails and a mad scientists called Viktor kidnaps your bride. Josh therefore sets out on a mission to bring back his beloved and stop Viktor. The problem with this is that since Viktor is a mad scientist he has an army of zombies to bring your rescue attempt grinding to a halt. It’s not exactly the romantic trip Josh had in mind.
As this is a Kinect title, as the adverts say, you are the controller. By moving your body in front of the Kinect’s camera, you move through Viktor’s mansion tackling wave after wave of nasties. As with all the Kinect titles there is a learning curve, but once you’ve got the hang of things the game becomes much more accessible. Turning your body left or right makes Josh do the same, walking forward is achieved by putting your foot forward while putting your foot further forward makes Josh run, something you’ll be doing alot.
The controls do create something of an issue, as sometimes the movements your make are not matched as closely by the Kinect system. This is especially true when you need to avoid traps in the mansion with the game’s movement recognition makes it a little bit to hard to avoid the deadly spikes. However, a clever movement-based feature I liked was the way I simply needed to put my right hand up to move Josh on to the next point of interest.
Now that we’ve got all that out of the way, lets move on to the killing. Disposing of an enemy is achieved by firstly focusing on a zombie in front of you (something which is done by holding your arms up parallel to the floor, like your giving him a hug) and then using Josh’s fists to destroy it or one of the various weapons and objects littered around the mansion. Now these weapons are not the range of guns you would normally expect, instead Sega have opted to give you a wider arsenal including hammers, brass knuckles, garden shears and even the arms of the zombies you have killed. The way you move your arms must match the weapon you have, you need to imagine how you would hold the weapon in real life and swing, cross or shake your arms in the appropriate way.
I found the fighting controls much better than the movement controls. It’s so very satisfying to see all the blood and guts come out of the zombies as you slice and hack them away. The AI in this game is not very good, the enemies just keep coming at you, but, on the other hand, they are all zombies. As an additional bonus, Rise of Nightmares also gives you a good workout. Some of the fights are quite intense and you will work up a sweat. A bit of variety is added with boss battles, but not much. These larger adversaries are just bigger creations made by Viktor and are tougher but not smarter than the standard foes, so if you block then attack you will be fine.
Graphically, Rise of Nightmares is dark, bloody and very atmospheric. The gloomy nature of the surroundings adds to the tension. If you dare, I would suggest you play this at night with the lights off as I did, then you will really feel atmosphere Sega are trying to create. The music adds to the experience very well, the sound effects of all the weapons are done well and the blood splattering around is just messy and fun to see. All of these aspects really help Rise of Nightmares to be a creepy game and certainly not one for kids, hence the 18 rating. There is no multiplayer in Rise of Nightmares, with Josh’s on a strict one man mission against Viktor and his zombie hordes, but that’s ok, this game is all about fun and you can replay it as much as you like, dominating all the zombies with your odd yet deadly weapons.
Overall then, Sega have given us the first 18-rating Kinect game and it’s not a bad effort. There are some issue with movement recognition and learning curve but once you get over these hurdles then you will enjoy what Rise of Nightmares has to offer. The graphics give it a chilling, creepy atmosphere while the combat, although sometimes repetitive, has a generally fun feel to it. With some more polish this game could have done wonders for Kinect. As it is, it’s by no means is this bad game, so if you enjoy survival horror and always to get more physically involved in the slicing and dicing action, then this is the game for you.
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