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PC Roundup

Hard to be a God, Lost Empire, Europa Universalis: Rome, Crusaders.

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Image credit: Eurogamer

Hard to be a God

  • Publisher - Akella
  • Developer - Burut Entertainment

Damn straight it's tough to be a deity. Universes aren't built in a day. The typical estimate says six, and those are some long shifts. Immaculately kept, pearl-white beards don't trim themselves, either. But never mind being a God. It's hard to be a game developer if this RPG is anything to go by. Or at least this lot makes it look hard going.

As a gaming experience, Hard to be a God stings. This isn't mana from heaven, it's acid rain. There's pain on every front. Badly translated English? Check. This isn't just the odd typo and misused word; some of the dialogue makes very little sense full stop, and the storyline suffers as a result. Which is a shame, as the plot has some interesting ideas, and twists from standard role-playing fare into a sci-fi setting.

Sluggish controls? Check. Movement is stilted - as are the game's animations - and it's easy to get stuck on bits of scenery, especially when galloping (or indeed not galloping) around on your horse. Directing your attacks in the click-and-slash combat isn't intuitive, and it all feels a little clumsy, although there is some fun to be had here.

There are many different combat styles, and it's entertaining to duel-wield a couple of fast blades, striking multiple opponents with multiple blows. Plus you can fight on horseback. Riding vagabonds down, hacking at them as you speed past gets the old juices flowing, although steering your steed about is an exercise in frustration more often than not.

Yikes! What the hell is that? A hat with a feather in it?

The enemy isn't up to much either - poor computer AI? Check. To say the monsters behave like lemons would be an insult to citrus fruit everywhere. At one point I ran through a bandit camp, chased by six of the beggars, and then into a building. They didn't follow me in, and just reset to their positions. I stuck my head out - they came running again. Duck back inside - they reset.

What made this scenario even more pathetic was when I worked out I could shoot my bow at them from the doorway, as the real problem, it turned out, was that they couldn't negotiate the couple of steps up to the door. It didn't take long to make six pin-cushioned bandits. The leader did try to block my arrows by holding up his shield, except he was facing away from me at the time.

This wasn't the only example of daft AI. A farmer I was busy extorting threatened that him and his men would sort me out, but luckily his men were dumb yokels who didn't notice me drag him away from the village and give him a good pasting in a nearby clearing.

Between the obvious chinks in the artificial intelligence and glaring clipping anomalies (with characters walking through walls and floating down staircases), only a truly hardy adventurer will persevere. Did I say hardy? I meant foolhardy.