looking for a game that includes stunning graphics, well designed,
fully responsive controls, great voice acting and an engrossing
story to really draw you in, then youíd best keep looking because The
Scorpion King: Rise of Akkadian is definitely not what youíre
looking for. There are so many things wrong with this atrocity I
could go on listing them off till the crack of doom. Since Iím
sure you, like myself, have far better things to do with your time,
letís restrict ourselves to only the most offensive of the batch
for our purposes herein. But let it not be said that I didnít warn
you. The development team at Point of View have a hell of a lot to
OK, kids, ready?
Itís time to get into some of the major factors that make The
Scorpion King such an utter disaster (above and beyond the now
standard $50 price tag). Letís list them off:
Since this is
better broached under the "gameplay" bullet, letís
restrict this to the training session at the start of the game,
wherein you learn the exciting and highly effective moves youíll
be forced to utilize throughout the remainder of your Scorpion
King experience. This should give the unwary just a taste of
what it means to be "The Rock" (or at least, so the
developers would have us believe). As might be expected, each
training session teaches you a small and discrete subset of moves.
However, for some unknown reason, the people who also gave us Smashing
saw fit to disallow any of the moves you learned in your prior
training sessions in subsequent ones. To be more clear about it,
what this means is if youíre supposed to be learning a throw, you
canít even throw a punch or kick Ė nothing but the move at hand.
An eerie portend of horrors yet unseen? Perhaps. But wait, the worst
is yet to come.
Now we all know
that The Scorpion King is based on a movie starring
apparently popular WWE wrestling personality Dwayne "Rock"
Johnson. It also might have been anticipated that Point of View
would seek out Mr. Johnson to make an appearance in the game,
whether by reproduction of his likeness or more direct participation
via voiceover (in this case, both). What no one would have expected
is the apparent ego clause Johnson or his agents managed to sneak in
to sweeten the deal for himself. Unbelievably, and in a true paean
to "star" vanity, the game camera spends most of its time
focusing exclusively on a face-on view of Mr. Johnsonís goofy mug,
to the extent where the usual third-person-from-behind view is
subverted, so that you seem to be taking the perspective of your
opponent, rather than the ostensibly playable character! In other
words, rather than seeing your enemy, so you can direct your
attacks, you get a lovely view of Mr. Johnsonís steroid-enhanced
pectorals, while he/you remain on the receiving end of your (for all
intents and purposes) invisible opponentís blows. You have to
manually manipulate the view by means of the "C" stick to
right this, but just like that old standby of drunken camera
placement, Castlevania 64, this state of affairs lasts for
mere seconds before reverting the viewer to his proper place as a
happy spectator of Mr. Johnsonís antics (as he continues to
receive hits, mind you). This is obviously a major flaw in
design, since as you might imagine, it makes it rather difficult to
fend off the endlessly repeated hordes of enemies, dogs, giants,
etc. Beyond the expected difficulties of effectively utilizing
kicks, hits, and throws in such a milieu, even throwing items at
them proves an exercise in futility, since wherever theyíre going,
they obviously never connect with the intended targets.
About which the
less said the better. Graphically speaking, The Scorpion King
could easily be compared to some very early Playstation titles (you
know, the ones with the long plastic box, that were usually direct
ports of computer games?). Cut scenes containing any animation
whatsoever only manage to look awkward (as do the movements of
Mathayus throughout the game Ė check out his prancing queen
"shoo" hand movements when he opens those doors with the
You know those
badly dubbed Z grade kickboxing and T&A movies your father
watches late nights on Cinemax? Then you know what to expect here
(but at least he didnít pay $50 for the privilege!). The
"plot" of The Scorpion King is, to my
understanding, a prequel to the movie, attempting to explain how
Mathayus came to receive the titular designation. Playing as
Mathayus, you have to perform several ludicrous and apparently
pointless "missions" in order to "prove" to the
current king that you are worthy to be one of his assassins.
Whatever. Oh, and by the way? I donít know anything about Mr.
Johnsonís acting ability, in cinema or the ring, but his voice
acting performance here is horrible. If his delivery were any
more wooden, Johnson would be a forest unto himself. Maybe he should
look into dubbing anime.
And last but not
gameplay format is this. Mathayus walks through a doorway.
Instantly, you hear a cry of "hey, you!" (yes, what I am
describing will happen literally every single time you enter
a new area, no exaggeration. The only variation Iíve encountered
is a very Brooklyn-accented "Whatta YOU doiní?", which
is hardly an improvement, not to mention a probable anachronism). Of
course, there is no one in sight of the camera but our hero, Mr.
Johnson. After all, who wants to see anyone else, right? The
invisible opponents will suddenly surround you, to which you can
respond with some mildly effective kicks (B button), generally
ineffective punches (A button, which 9 times out of 10, will be
blocked with the efficiency of a master, as evidenced by the blue
swirly effect accompanying your, say, 10 punches in a row), or
mysterious "special moves", which seem to take quite a
toll in stamina. So unless, like myself, you get your jollies out of
kicking the sh*t out of the various vicious dogs (cat lovers of the
world unite!), your basic gameplan is to hit A and B together for
the visually absurd "throw" moveÖover and over and over
again, ad nausaeum. When combined with the frequent randomly
generated (and never intentionally accessed) "charge"
moves (which indubitably send "The Rock" hurtling in
absurd and amusing vectors AWAY from the action: according to the
manual, the "charge" is accessed by hitting ANY attack
button while runningÖbut since this effectively describes the
entire game, you never know when youíll end up charging) and a few
kicks to the head while theyíre getting up, near exclusive use of
this move tends to get you through fight after fight with as little
personal injury as possible. Not being a big wrestling fan, Iím
not sure if "The Rock"ís M.O. is picking people up and
throwing them over his head until they concede out of dizziness, but
regardless, it makes for a less than exciting, if not absolutely
absurd gameplay paradigm. Better still, the programming in The
Scorpion King is so generally poor, that rather than showing an
obvious grab and throw maneuver, characters appear to leap and
somersault over Mathayus without your actually having touched them
per seÖand this isnít to mention how these same characters (or
yourself, when knocked down) will appear to vanish into the ground.
My personal favorite was when I went to kick one of them in the head
as he was getting up, and he shot into the air like a human football
going for a field goal. At least this sort of thing helps lighten up
the proceedings by providing some unintentional amusement. But after
getting into fight after fight after fight, the laughter tends to
fade into boredom and disgust. My favorite part was the unexpected
"timed fight!" which appeared mysteriously about 45
minutes into the game, which puts a quickly receding time bar above
your head as youíre surrounded by several dogs, giants, thugs, and
anonymously fired arrows pelting you from all sides; virtually
ensuring that only the most braindead among us (i.e., those who are
truly involved in this crap) will actually pass beyond this
point. Needless to say, I didnít, nor did the prospect of
restarting the entire level from my last save (quite a few of these
nonsensical dog-pile-on-the-rabbit style fights back, I might add)
appeal to me in any way whatsoever.
Iím sure fans
of the erstwhile Mr. Johnson will appreciate the chance, however
meager, to recreate his antics (however poorly) in a personal sense.
Iím also sure that they, unlike myself, have actually seen the
doubtless Oscar nominated film from which this game derives. Without
that reference point, I admit that there is the chance that I have
somehow "missed the point", and blindly stumbled into
something doubtless too deep and insider for me to really
"get". But somehow, I doubt it.
line is, only fans of "rock ní wrestling" need apply
(does anybody else hear "Classy" Freddie Blassieís
"Pencil Neck Geeks" right now, or is it just me?), and to
be honest, theyíd be better served by cranking up some tacky nu-metal
(cool! Linkin Park! Tool! DUDE!) and watching one of those
cut-rate WWE DVDs cluttering up the shelves at your local mall; or
supporting the cause of ghost writers everywhere by reading Mr.
Johnsonís autobiography, "The Rock Says: The Most
Electrifying Man in Sports Entertainment" (by "the Rock"
Layden ("Contributor")). While Iím
sure none of these activities will appeal to the more culturally
refined among us, they still doubtless will prove a more exciting
waste of time than playing this disaster of a game.
"The Rock" does the voice?
- Poor camera
angles and control of camera.
controls per se.
early PS1-level AI and graphics
Donít buy this game!"