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Nightmare Creatures

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Reviewed by Raymond Almeda The story of Activision's Nightmare Creatures unfolds in London, circa 1834. A mad scientist has unleashed a plague on the good citizens that physically changes humans into various ghouls and monsters. Players take the role of either Ignatius Blackward or Nadia, and battle through the streets of London in an attempt to stop the evil scientist. The graphics of Nightmare Creatures faithfully recreate the atmosphere of London during the 19th Century (or at least as one might imagine it), evoking a damp, dark and dirty ambience. Jack the Ripper probably would have felt right at home in this game's universe. Nightmare Creatures uses a great variety of textures to avoid that "haven't I seen this wall before?" sensation. The game also includes many nice graphical details, such as rainwater running down the middle of the street. While the game is foggy, the fog is used more for effect than to hide graphical pop-in. And as you might expect, Nightmare Creatures delivers plenty of blood and gore to embellish its horror theme. The audio of Nightmare Creatures only enhances its intimidating atmosphere. With its very dark, foreboding soundtrack and plenty of disturbing sound effects, Nightmare Creatures delivers a satisfyingly terrifying audio experience. The audio sometimes gets a bit repetitive, but the repetition isn't really that bothersome. The various polygonal monsters in Nightmare Creatures are gorgeous (in a gruesome, evil sort of way) and their animation is fairly smooth. Rather, the monster animation appears to be smooth when compared to the player's characters. Perhaps Ignatius and Nadia have developed a few nervous twitches after dealing with all these monsters. On the other hand, maybe the character animation is just plain awful. (The latter is far more likely.) The main characters jerk around the screen in a very disturbing and often frustrating manner. And speaking of frustrating, the game's awful 3D camera simply compounds the animation woes. Indeed, the shoddy camera of Nightmare Creatures will make you want to throw something (I would suggest the controller, since it is always nearby). Often you will get mangled by a monster without even realizing it, simply because the camera has you looking the other way. While Nightmare Creatures is not unplayable, it certainly isn't the experience it could have been. It quickly begins to feel like you are fighting the game's hideous controls, rather than the hideous creatures onscreen. Further detracting from Nightmare Creature's uneven gameplay are the game's unintuitive controls. While the analog stick is supported, the game responds in an extremely "un-analog" manner. The slightest touch of the analog stick will send your character sprinting, causing the game to lurch along at an uneven speed. Also, the game requires you to press left or right to rotate your character, meaning that it takes an extremely long time to simply turn around. As a result, if an enemy gets behind you, you can expect to get hit several times before you can turn and actually face it (assuming that you even know it is there!). This control scheme also makes fighting multiple enemies at once nearly impossible. Despite all of these nagging flaws, the gameplay still manages to be fun, albeit repetitive, which causes one to wonder what Nightmare Creatures could have been. There is no doubt in this reviewer's mind that, had this game had the control scheme and smooth animation of say, Zelda, it would have been great. In its current form, however, Nightmare Creatures simply can't overcome these serious problems. Nightmare Creatures is a definite "rent before you buy" game. For horror buffs, the freaky graphics and spooky audio may be enough to warrant a purchase. If you are just in it for the gameplay, however, you may want to look elsewhere. The faulty controls and jerky animation of Nightmare Creatures are just too nightmarish to overcome.

Overall 7.0 out of 10

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