Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Second Look @ Jumper: Griffin's Story

*All images are from*

A simple quick cash-in title with not enough inside to believe you're actually playing a game.
Button-mashing games are few and far between. Some, like God of War (don't hate, you know it's true), are well done and offer some depth to go along with mindlessly killing things. Others, such as Jumper: Griffin's Story, leave you scratching your head, wondering if what you just played was a game at all.

Kung-Fu epic this is not.

The first thing to remember is that the game is based on a single character, Griffin, from the movie Jumper. He can be summed up as David Rice's counterpart. Where Rice is calm and unknowing, Griffin is cunning, always watching his back for the Paladin's. This doesn't translate very well for the game since you'll find yourself often being slapped by several enemies at once. The combat can be frustrating at times but the action is steady enough not to let you down (in other words B+ concept, D- execution).
The fact that Griffin is always watching his back can also be seen in the awkward running he does, at first one might question why they animated him in such a way. It's only until later when you're running through the close quarters of the pyramid that you realize he's looking around
corners for the next attack.
There are moments after you d
efeat a set of enemies where the game stops to show you a door opening or enemies coming through a doorway. It wouldn't be bad if the area was obscure, but it happens almost every time. The AI is dull, lacking in emotion and any sort of common sense. You face the same nameless, faceless thugs each level, which can be described as fodder. They're nothing more than filler in this game. Quick jumping is set to the Right Bumper, it's an easy way to get out of a tough fight and to get yourself situated. It isn't, however, a good way to travel through the level. Once you activate, you'd better be heading forward as you can't rotate the camera, only Griffin himself. Good luck getting out of a corner because of this.

"Must... break free... from... bad... game. UGH!"

The graphics are toned down on the next-gen systems, supposedly to match the capabilities of the PS2 since it was a multiplatform release. The lighting and shader effects are done enough to get the point across. Beyond that they do nothing more to create an atmosphere of urgency. The cameras are another point away from this game: frustrating, clunky, slow, and just about any other negative comment you can think of, the camera would have been better suited if it had been fixed in place.
The cutscenes are comic-book style but might remind the player of something along the lines of Twisted Metal Head On: shadows are heavy ink, parts are slide-animated, and it's hard to see the emotions. The levels are cluttered and a few of them are hard to navigate. In-area jumping can be cut short by a barrel that is a few feet away. The audio quality is fair, you are able to hear each time you jump, each punch and hit. Griffin's voice is done by Jamie Bell, the same actor from the movie. His witty banter might cause you to crack a smirk, but it doesn't give you any deep hints into the game. The character of Roland, done by Samuel L. Jackson in the movie, is played by a different man, younger sounding. The music is unnoticeable. Completely. That's all I have to say about it.

"Hey is that Samuel L. Jackson? ...No, my bad. It's just some guy."

The only saving grace of this game is not just the achievements (~500G in the first hour or so), but the certain moments of creativity, specifically the drop zone kills, that make you go "Holy crap, did you see that?" These moments are triggered by pressing button combos, from which you get from comic book covers.
The game is a good rental, a way of wasting about 2 hours in an afternoon or a weekend. As far as buying, you'd better hold on to the receipt.
I'll give the creators credit for trying, but not being thorough enough. It's a game suited for the last gen systems and any other ideas they could have poured into it (i.e. an open world environment, better combat) would have been fine.

Jamie Bell, serving a beatdown to one of the game creators.

Oooh. Get'em Jamie.
Keep Playing.

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