Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Basement Crawl (PS4)

When this game first came into the spotlight Bloober Team teased at it's more mature nature with an excellently crafted CG trailer. As a horror movie enthusiast I got excited, and briefly fell in love with the innocent yet nightmarish look of the toys, and characters involved in the cinematic teaser. The voice acting was as eerie as the post-apocalyptic look of the environment in which the game's main female character resided in making me want to see even more. To me it hinted at a possible plot, and a possible singleplayer experience. Unfortunately when I got my hands on the game I realized two very disappointing things. The first being the fact that the multiplayer offerings which were what the game was all about were busted, and secondly that the game gave little in the way of plot material, or control explanations.

After you watch, or skip past the poorly rendered version of the HD teaser trailer we all initially saw on Youtube you'll make it to the game's main menu where two modes of play are in place for your selection. These modes include "Local Multiplayer" for morbid combat against at home friends, and "Global Multiplayer" for bloody battles in the online environment. Seeing as I have no one to game with locally (at home) I had to try out the global version of the multiplayer experience. Initially upon sampling the global multiplayer I found that it was so broken to the point that the game would freeze up, and not load properly. After the post-release patch things seemed to improve though, and joining a global deathmatch, or team deathmatch was not as big of a problem as it once was. There still remained the occasional in-game hiccup, and matchmaking issues though. Things like being dropped in at the tail end of a match were commonplace occurrences in "Basement Crawl". There's that then there's also the difficulty of spotting your chosen character amidst the messy mayhem that's taking place onscreen which proves to be just as bothersome as the lack of content.

In "Basement Crawl" you'll find that gameplay is a lot like 'Bomberman'. It's got the same maze-like crate filled setup that such a game would have as well as a similar team/solo based combat which utilizes the same explosive blasts, and power-up traps that the party-like Bomberman titles once used. Unlike 'Bomberman' though the gameplay in 'Basement Crawl' is a lot more sinister in both appearance, and sound. You'll be fighting it out on battlegrounds that look as if they were inspired by horror flicks, and will be blasting the bloody fool out of other players as they cross the booby trapped path you have laid out before them. The arena, or playground that you fight upon is in essence a large grid filled with square tiles, and crates/blocks that are set in place to make getting to your opponents too quickly an impossibility. The traps you lay, and the power-up based extra skills that you can use to maim your foes will be a make a good means to clear blocked paths, and obliterate other players. All traps, and power-ups collected from busted crates, and fallen foes follow a character specific path, and will kill you too if you don't get the hell out of dodge before it detonates. You can use a shield (R2), and run button (L2) to help you evade certain doom if need be. Other functions such as "Throw", and "Kick" will also allow you to catch opposing players off guard with properly delivered projectiles.

In the way of match types you'll find only 'Deathmatch', and 'Team Deathmatch' options are in place for your choosing. In these standard issue multiplayer game types the kill count definitely matters, and the win/loss standings are totally important in the global leaderboard sense. Deathmatch in 'Basement Crawl' is in basic terms a straight to the point kill, or be killed battle. The top three players with the most kills at the end of a match will be rewarded accordingly, and recognized via an onscreen close-up with complimentary PSN ID mention. As far as "Team Deatmatch" goes it is basically the same as deathmatch, but will have two seperate teams fighting to the death for global ranking stardom.

As far as characters, and character selection goes you'll find that 'Basement Crawl' has only four different character types. These pre-match character choices include a deranged clown, a crash test dummy in a wheelchair, a possessed knife wielding teddy bear that's riding on the shoulders of a small girl, and a large obese woman with a sports bra, and a bag over her head. While these character types each look slightly ominous in their own way the true differences come with their trap abilities. There's abilities such as health refill, fire, lightning, and something else I'm not sure of. Like I said before this game does little in the way of explaining things. All you get is a controller diagram showing button functions, and nothing else. As such the game comes off as being a bland bare bones multiplayer experience that is lacking in more ways than one.

Now for the verdict ...

Even if this game had proper matchmaking, and even if it didn't have matchmaking hiccups I honestly could not recommend this game. It looks, and feels like an unfinished idea/product. The beginning intro hints at something great, but once you get into the actual gameplay you find the game to be frustrating, and wholly lacking. It tries it's hardest to fit into two genres that are never fully realized in-game. The "Bomberman" half of it is just nowhere near as fun, or exciting as the "Bomberman" series was. As far as the horror aspect goes that is never really revisited past the cinematic intro sequence. Sure the game looks bloody, grisly, and childishly scary, but it still does not live up to the hype the developers setup for it before the game's release. I just can't recommend buying this game. It's not worth it.

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