The War of the Worlds

4 Overall Score
Gameplay: 3/10
Style: 5/10
Story: 4/10

Patrick Stewart | Idea of improvised Boss Fights

Clunky Gameplay | Poor Level Design | Flat Story | Wasted Potential

The War of the Worlds XBLA game is the latest by-product of H.G. Well’s classic 1898 novel of the same name. I am a huge fan of all renditions of the book: the novel, both movies, and especially Jeff Wayne’s musical version. After such a long run of success, I had high hopes for ‘Other Ocean’s digital release, but after playing through, I couldn’t be more underwhelmed and disappointed in their attempt.

Upon starting the game, you’re welcomed with Patrick Steward’s seductive, guiding, and plain beautiful voice giving a brief introduction to the story. It lasts no more than a minute, and really sets the player’s expectations for the paper thin story to come. However the sheer serenity of Stewart’s voice echoes pure beauty throughout the game, and almost brightens up the otherwise dismal gameplay and style.

Immediately after starting the game, you’ll begin to notice heavy similarities between Playdead’s ‘Limbo’, a game praised by critics for its innovation and creativity. Instead of expanding on this, and taking inspiration, WotW takes what Limbo had created and completely dilutes it. Instead of the seriously impactful black and grey style, WotW adopts the now all too familiar brown, brown and… brown colour scheme. As you awkwardly stroll through the dull world, only Stewart’s voice will help you through, he guides you through the events as they happen, which would otherwise go unnoticed.

When stripped down to its raw gameplay, WotW can’t be helped by Stewart’s gorgeous utterances. The game is a 2D platformer, and so well structured controls are absolutely vital. But again, it fall flat, and the clunky, rusty, hard-to-grasp controls seriously detract from any enjoyment it may have presented. Jumping is performed by pressing A, climbing ledges is done by holding the up arrow, walking by the left stick, and that’s basically it. Simple it sounds, yes. In practice, not so much.

Jumping from platform to platform can even pose basic problems that shouldn’t exist. If you don’t get the momentum perfect for a jump, you’ll likely fall to your death. Each level is so poorly designed that it pushes the character to his limit, jumps and such can only just be completed. Only perfection will do. It’s not even like building momentum is easy, the game is unjustifiably hard to grasp, and it seems to change its ways constantly. Think you’ve timed a jump right? You probably did for the last part, but not now. WotW forces the player to make silly mistakes, almost as to mock you. If you just reach a platform, or jump up towards a platform, you’ll grasp onto its edge, as you’d expect. But instead of an automated climb up, you need to hold upwards on the left stick until you’re fully up. Even slightly loosening your stick for any moment of time, you’ll drop; often to your demise. This mechanic is particularly menacing in levels when you’re escaping from the enemy.

Coming onto the enemies and sub-bosses: the latter levels of the game are cluttered with smaller tedious enemies to help block your path. These enemies will launch screen covering beams that immediately disintegrate you on impact. Instead of creating a logical challenge, they enforce a near impossible one which quickly bores the player. Hiding beneath rubble and rocks is necessary to escape their attacks, but you need to observe their beams whilst doing so, as well as their movement. However they move incredibly slow, so usually you’d want to see a couple of repeats of their path, but in WotW, just one loop takes around 20 seconds, so you just can’t be bothered to wait. As you illogically make a run, you’ll more often than not be killed. This poor design implementation makes for a ‘F**k it and run’ style play, and each time you make a mistake you just keep on trying instead of being tactical, which the game unwillingly prevents you from doing.

Sub bosses however make for a slightly more interesting level. WotW is completely devoid of combat, expected for a platformer, so with these boss fights, ‘Other Ocean’ have improvised , creating ‘chase scenes’ within the game. Sprinting away from a giant Martian makes for an exhilarating experience, especially as Stewart’s panicked voice is drowned out by their metallic roars. But again the flawed mechanics seriously pull down these sections which are full of failed potential. Awkwardly placed, hard to reach platforms mess up your platforming flow, leading to your ultimate demise being brought to you by the approaching Martian. These platforms will keep hindering you without fail, and until you actually perfect that section and ‘defeat’ it, you’ll keep failing and failing. It’s just not fun.

Overall, War of the Worlds had some great ideas that were just executed very poorly. The gameplay mechanics are fundamentally flawed, and when this is what a platformer relies on, it’s almost destined to fail. Even for fans of the War of the Worlds franchise this game isn’t really worth playing. However the narration of Patrick Stewart offers some class to the game’s rustiness, perhaps the only decent feature.


Author: JackBrommers View all posts by
Aspiring Community Manager / Games Journalist. Geek, Gamer, Gearhead, Figure Fanatic, Avid Competition Enterer and Non-Preachy Vegetarian. Follow me on Twitter: @JackBrommers or feel free to add me on Xbox: Pipboy V3 Eagerly waiting for: Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, Arkham City, Soul Calibur V, Skullgirls