Thursday, 22 November 2012

A Review of AMY (PS3 & Xbox 360)

I’ve decided to have a look at those quirkier or somewhat left-of-centre games that got panned in the general press and internet review sites.

First of all I intentionally picked a few games that I had never heard off, which consistently got low reviews from the main media sources, and then I did some internet research, before playing them with an open mind whilst remembering the on-line and in-print comments.
I intended to see if I thought all these games are genuinely awful, or if there is possibly something more to the general review trends? After all there’s truth to the old axiom ‘know your audience.’

Me, well I’ve absolutely no idea who reads this stuff: So this one’s for you Anon...

Panned Games - Review 1: AMY
The first game on my list was AMY by VectorCell. This is a first person horror-survival game, where you take control of, Lana. A character who, as well as trying to survive in an epidemic ridden world, also has to take care of Amy, a young girl who appears to have some undisclosed form of autistic communicative difficulties. 

The back-story revolves around your attempts to escape the city with Amy in tow.
The game-play is primarily puzzle based, with the Amy ‘companion character’ having three main functions. The first being that you must keep Amy safe; this is done ether by keeping her close (calling for her and holding her hand) or by hiding her. The second function of Amy is to aide in puzzle solving. This can range for something as simple as getting her to crawl through a space where the main character couldn’t fit and press a button to activate some mechanism or open a door etc, to more complicated puzzles where you must place her in certain positions in order to perform some action(s). Then move her around with a combination of instructions; getting her to move and perform a series of simple commands that help accomplish a task; always bearing in mind that she is more vulnerable when away from your direct control.
The third, and most intriguing, function of Amy is to protect your protagonist from the infection. When separated from Amy the main character will slowly become infected, leading to your eventual death if you can’t find Amy in time and don’t have any serum handy.

Amy can perform simple tasks, when prompted, and this does add a certain additional puzzle element to the game.

The game also has a melee based combat system (of sorts), although this definitely isn’t a combat orientated game. The combat process basically consists of one attack move and seems to be added very much as a secondary measure, to be used as a last resort. The main stay of the game is definitely in the survival vain, with the emphasis very much on stealth, hiding and running away from the infected.

Animation and voice acting is not cutting-edge, to say the least. The opening graphics scene looks dated when compared to today’s top-end action titles, but that really isn’t what AMY is about. I would say the animation and acting is adequate, although more in a straight-to-TV B-Movie sense rather than a top end A-list encrusted Box-Office smash. Anyone playing Amy with the expectations of it being a GTA style action based first-person shooter is bound to be disappointed by the presentation, and more importantly the game-play. But taken for what it is, a decent low-budget survival-horror type game with an interesting twist, AMY can deliver a fairly immersive experience.

Anyone expecting AMY to play like a contemporary FPS is bound to be disappointed.
Although by no means perfects I do think AMY got some undeservedly bad press. This may be in part due to the nature (out of vogue game-play style and genre) of the game, and partly due to the somewhat dated graphics and acting, which would have been considered excellent for a PS2 or Xbox game, or decent current-gen if released five or six years earlier. If you like older; more sedate, and some would say slow or repatative; puzzle based survival-horror games like the original Resident Evil and Silent Hill series, you may still find a decent game in this, despite the bad reviews from the contemporary mainstream press and the derogatory comments found from current ‘gamers.’ Remember that those comments are only one person’s opinion. Not that I’m putting anyone down for their opinion. I should be the last person to do that, as reading this very Blog would show that my own opinions can vary quite drastically from the norm. But these generally do seem to be the opinions of a certain demographic of gamer, one that has come to expect certain things from a new game, and that’s fine...
Yes some of these expectations include things like cutting-edge lifelike animation, and seamless character/voice acting – and of course these aren’t bad things to expect from a game, but when a reviewer equates these traits with making or breaking a game on their own... Well that’s where I would start to strongly disagree.
Maybe it does look and play like a PS2 or Dreamcast era game, but there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. I don’t think the game is ‘broken’ by a bad design, as some reviews say. I think some people simply wanted, or expected, it to be something it is not.
I think AMY may be a tad too slow, and dare I say repetitive, for today’s market. Not that repetition is necessarily a bad thing. The more experienced gamers amongst us were weaned on repetition... Hell, I like SHMUPS for goodness sake.

AMY may have the look and and feel of a PS2 or Dreamcast game, but there's nothing inherently wrong with that.

If AMY had come out at the time Resident evil and Silent Hill were at their peek the reviews may have told a rather different story. AMY does have its good points, But combat definitely isn’t one of them Although to be fair this doesn’t seem to have ever been designed as a combat game, and personally that’s one of the things I like about it. I’m not saying AMY is a great game or that you should rush out and get it. But I don’t think it deserved the reputation, and in some cases downright hostility, that it got. You can get it for budget prices now, and that’s probably about right for what is essentially a budget title. If pushed I’d say 5... Maybe 5.5 out of 10, worth a few pounds if you like stealth based survival-horror games. But don’t get it expecting an FPS, as it isn’t and the combat system, such as it is, will not thrill you.

So is it really a case of “IGN gave it a 2 out of 10, so it must be awful. Lets make fun of it.” Well, for a minority it possibly is, but for most it’s probably not really the case, not directly at least, but I can see why it wouldn’t appeal to new gamers.

Mind you, I don’t think the developer’s comments did much to endear the general game-playing public to their product ether...

This won’t be to everyone’s taste, but behind it all there is a decent game mechanic, and it is not a ‘god awful game,’ believe me. I have played some ‘god awful’ games in my time and this is not at the bottom of the heap.

Remember, the mainstream feeds of the mainstream, and the mainstream eats and sleeps FPS just now. That’s just the way it is, so there's no point grumbling about it.

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