In this X-Play Review, we take a look at the action game 'Deadly Creatures' for the Nintendo Wii. Watch out! Snakes!
- Great animation and atmosphere
- Fierce battles
- Unique idea
- Not as polished as it should be
- Rather short
- Falls back to its button-masher roots
There’s a whole world out there that we never see – between the cracks in the walls, in the empty spaces of the junkyard, underneath the very soil we tread every day. It’s a big world of little things. Deadly Creatures takes players to the life and death struggle of characters you can measure in inches. While the idea of playing as a scorpion or a spider sounds like a plot ripped from the pages of a B-Movie plot, it’s worth the rent as long as you don’t mind all the bugs – literally.
Deadly Creatures borrows from classical story structures such as Rashomon as our silent protagonist struggle with themes of man versus nature, Freud’s study of self-destruction, and thematic variants of Hobbesians. Oh, who am I kidding? You are either a nameless spider or nameless scorpion must go out to kill everything before they become a lower rung in the food chain.
What’s a big B-movie without a couple of big named actors– Billy Bob Thornton and Dennis Hopper. While their names have been plastered across this title, their actual roles are relatively small. These top named celebrities play a couple of gold seeking yokels that randomly cross your multi-segmented path, each time dropping a bit of the story to tie in all the environments that you crawl across. Ultimately, their half-bored handful of words hardly makes up for their inflated paychecks. Money spent on Mr. Slingblade and Blue Velvet could have been better spent on another boss, a few more environments, or on testers to catch (forgive the pun yet again) the bugs in the system.
Fangs for the Memories
Fighting as a spider or as a scorpion works surprisingly well for a game most will only consider at first glance as just a button masher. Each character has a standard one-button attack that can combo to a stronger attack with a flick at the Wii-mote at the end. Each character has their own way of handling the situation either head on or with a bit of trickery. New moves unlock as you digest more of your opponents, but since you have face every beetle and lizard in your path, you often obtain new moves at the same steady pace. The number of different enemy types may be few; the way you handle them can be completely different depending on what moves you can pull out.
Weak but tricky, the spider can land an attack and get out of the way before your opponent knows what happens. Personally my favorite of the two, the spider jumps out of the way of danger or just spits out a bit of webbing to leave them open for an attack. The scorpion, on the other hand, is you typical tank – slow but powerful. Since you’ll face most of your opponents head-on, a simple press of a button blocks most attacks and a flick of the wrist can break through their defenses. This clawed terror also comes with a context-sensitive finishing move that varies on the creature type. Miss a waggle and you’ll have to start the process all over again. Fortunately, there’s no penalty for missing a move, but you’ll save some time just by finishing them off with a couple of hits.
What Deadly Creatures does well is to make nearly every fight your last one. One good rat or a wasp when you least needed it could easily spell doom for your creepy crawly. Death throws you back to your last save which often means back several fights, having to traverse the same landscape, and having to find all those hidden grubs you happily uncovered in the first place. At times, I found myself trekking all the way to the beginning of a map for a save point if I happen to see something big in the distance.
Where I Use the Bug Pun Again
Even with the surprising depth of the fighting, at times the game can get a bit (please forgive me again) buggy. Enemies move through rocks and walls, and at times, get stuck in them. The game barricades your way until you happen to kill off that giant lizard that’s half way into the rock. Restarting is your only resort. Crickets get caught in inaccessible places, enemies float backwards over rocks, and one time my spider decided to go back to the beginning of a stage by only using left turns. The game works well most of the time, but these tiny flaws in the system add up in such a short game.
But when it works, there’s an incredible level of detail that will make your skin crawl. The animation for all the insects is detailed enough to give any gamer arachnophobia. Settings range from barren wilderness to the walls of a rundown gas station. Bigger environments work better than the narrow corridors of the underground tunnels. The little sounds of feet scurrying across the parched wasteland add a little something to the whole ambiance. The music comes in at the right time to make every showdown a gladiatorial battle, but it’s the sounds of nature that the developers included that really add to the adventure. Little details like the rat struggling in the spider’s web off to the side proves that a lot of twisted developers put a lot of love into this title.
Big Ideas, Little Creatures
After eight hours of sinking my fangs into this title, it was over. Players can go back through the adventure and satisfy their ADD cravings by finding all the grubs, but you’ll only be rewarded with art. Deadly Creatures doesn’t really have (forgive me) the legs to keep gamers entertained past the end credits. The battle system does give you a surprising number of choices, but all too often you’ll rely on a simple button mash to get through the army before you. For Wii owners looking for something a little more adult, Deadly Creatures satisfies your sadistic cravings for carnage and blood, but lacks the polish to make it a keeper for any collection.
Article Written By: James Youngblood