When I got the secret and heroic (can be discussed) mission to review Hero X I knew it was a game where I would have the opportunity to play as a super hero. At least that was what I thought I knew (explanation later)... The game is released by Infogrames who have released a lot of good titles during the years. The Civilization serie, Neverwinter Nights, Unreal, Outcast to mention a few of the titles.
The graphics in this game are really bad. I would have accepted it if the characters in the game were made to look like cartoons, and if the enviroment where the story takes place looked like a cartoon world. But now they have made some kind of mix of this I think. They have the detail level of the cartoon genre and the characters are supposed to look realistic. The first thing that came to mind when I started the game was that this looked like a mixture of Fallout and The Sims. The atmosphere is pretty much like The Sims and the graphics are like Fallout I finally decided. The animations are really bad as well. The characters walk like they have two sticks put in their pants to force them to walk like a scarecrow. The fights have a lack of excitement due to the fighting animations. The level of details is really bad as well. There are a lot of things I barely can imagine what it is supposed to be, and there are some kind of pink lines in some places, which I have no clue what they are supposed to be. This may be a bug with my video card, but it didn?t exactly improve the visual appearance. Honestly I can?t understand how they can release a game with this bad graphics. It would have been okay four years ago, but in 2002 such bad graphics really is a shame. I?m really disappointed in the way this game looks, that?s for sure.
Sounds / Music:
The sounds in this game are ok. I thought the main background song was pretty good in the beginning, but when you have heard the music for a while you get kind of tired of it. When fighting a different song is played, but there are just too few songs, even though they are decent. The sound effects are good when they appear. Most of the fighting sounds are replaced with sound effect balloons, which say things like SMACK, BAM, POW and so on. This is okay to me, and it makes you think of a comic book, which was exactly what it?s meant to be like?
I started the game with lots of enthusiasm, and a pretty cool comic book-like hero showed up as a starting picture. Selecting ?Start new game? on the main menu enabled you to create your own hero. When the hero-creating screen showed up my first disappointment came with it. The hero I wanted to customize showed up as a tiny little guy/gal (depending on what gender you pick), but the graphics were really lousy. I could barerly see what differences my changes did until I changed colors of the suite. Still the hero had the detail level comparable to the characters in the old Fallout (love that game though) game. It was ok when Fallout was released, but now it bugged me really much. I mean the year is 2002! ?Oh well, it will become better when the game start.? I thought and customized my super hero and dressed him with a red suite and a black mask and cape. Looked really fancy I must admit. The next step was choosing the super powers. I picked Super Speed (makes you able to run really quick), Super Strength (makes you lift heavier things), and finally I picked Fireball (which simply makes you able to cast fireballs).
I started the game, and a quick dialogue (with comic book balloons for the text of course). In my opinion the dialogue was pretty boring, and the graphics were as lousy as it was when customizing the hero. ?Well? Graphics aren?t everything. The game itself will probably rock!? I thought to myself and started playing.
I quickly realised that the game is pretty much, if not all, about fighting bad guys. Every time your Super Hero hits one of the bad guys, a fancy sound effect balloon with ?BAM?, ?SMACK? or ?POW? shows up. When I thought about what the game was aiming for, I think it?s a great thing they have added. The creators simply want you to play an own created super hero in a comic book, or as they write themself in the manual, ?Hero X is essentially an interactive comic book.? The idea is great, but in my eyes they?ve failed in many aspects.
First off, all the fighting felt REALLY boring. You can hit the bad guys in four ways, clicking on the enemy while holding Ctrl, Shift or Alt, or just click without holding any keys. The Shift key enables a quick punch. The Ctrl key throws a more powerful, yet slower, punch. The Alt key will cause the player character to kick enemies back and off their feet. When you just click it seems like it?s random which way the hero hits the bad guy. When you use the Ctrl way of punching, and you kick the bad guys away: a ?K.O.? shows up over the bad guy. After a while the bad guy recovers and when they stand up they have recovered a lot, and sometimes they even have full energy again, so you have to start all over again. That will say the only way to beat them is to hit them with quicker punches, which is pretty strange in my opinion. The idea with the keys plus the mouse click is good, but the fights are way too boring anyway, because you can?t do much else than just watching your Hero beat the bad guys with some clicks with the mouse. You don?t know why you miss or why you hit. You can just click and see what happens. That together with the poor graphic simply makes it boring.
Second of all, the way you move your Super Hero. As you may have figured out, you simply move the Hero by clicking where you want him to go. The thing is, though, is that the Hero often wants to get stuck in obstacles, like tables, corners and things like that. He also walks pretty slowly and it takes quite some time to walk around on the maps. I have to add a positive thing while I?m complaining about the movement, though. When you want to move to another map, you simply click on a map icon. Then the city where you are shows up as a map, and all places you can go to shows up. You simply move to another map by clicking where you want to go. And you can do this no matter where you are on the current map! On the map the places where the next mission will take place also will show up. So when you don?t know what to do, you can just watch the map, and if you see a place you don?t recognize you can try to go there. Most of the time it works perfectly. Brilliant!
Finally, the super powers. I have to say that the powers are quite boring. The poor graphics makes the fireballs and the other power really uninteresting. And the fireballs aren?t that effective either. There is one Power called ?Super Awareness? which makes you see all things that can be lifted and/or used in any way. I guess that is good, but do you want to waste one of your three Super Powers to something you just can notice by moving the mouse cursour over all interesting things that might be of use? Well, I wouldn?t pick it, that?s for sure...
When I picked Super Strength as one of my three powers in the start I thought I would be able to throw bad guys several meters, crush locked doors with my bare hands, and hit bad guys really hard. Simply acting like a strong and cool Super Hero. The only thing I have noticed while playing with the ?extra strength?, though, is the fact that I can lift a bit heavier things to throw at the bad guys. It?s really lousy to pick things up to throw, though, because you can?t walk when you?ve picked it up. You have to throw it. And if you?re lucky and hit the bad guy, they only get knocked out. They wake up and then you haven?t achieved anything, except the extra time you need to wait for the bad guy to stand up so you can beat him... After a while of playing you can get more Super Powers, and then you can choose between more Super Powers than you could choose between in the creation of you Super Hero. Pretty fun, but still I think the powers are too boring. You simply don?t feel like a Super Hero.
I might sound really negative about this game, and the fact is that in the start I thought this was one of the worst games I had ever played. But after I had played it for a while, I can see some positive things about the game. The feeling when everyone talks to you with help of comic book balloons is quite funny. The civilians you can chat with also have pretty funny comments, so that helps. The story itself is just as simple as they used to be in the comic books and like they should be. The bad guys are really cool I think. What is bugging me is that they could have made this so much better! They could have added some cooler super powers, much better graphics, more chance of making your Super Hero unique by making you able to choose body, hair length and style etc. There are so much more they could have done with it. It feels like they grew tired of the game while making it and decided to finish it as quick as possible, with as little effort as possible.