zvarri's Fortix (PlayStation Network (PSP)) review

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  • zvarri has written a total of 7 reviews. The last one was for Hoard

The Bad Guy is the Game's Name Spelled Backwards.

 Let's sit down and have a look at Fortix, which you can find on the Playstation Store for $4.99. This game is actually an adaptation of Qix, a Taito arcade game originally released in 1981. The basic gameplay in Fortix is identical to Qix; you draw lines on the field with your cursor to make boxes, claiming portions of the field under your control. Objects on the field can deplete one of your lives by crashing into your cursor or a line you are currently drawing. In Qix, these objects (including your cursor) were simple vector graphics. Fortix replaces these humble visuals with medieval-themed sprites and backgrounds, along with a throwaway story and a few twists on the classic formula.

The plot in Fortix, told by cookie-cutter ye olde English lettering on a parchment sprite, involves a noble quest to free the lands from the clutches of Lord Xitrof (how cute, they spelled "Fortix" backwards). It's completely ignorable, since it has zero effect on the gameplay. I have to admit, the conceit of Fortix is actually pretty neat: rather than aim to control a percentage of the board, the goal is to claim one or several fortresses dominating the map. In addition to mobile enemies (which take the form of dragons and bats) you also have to contend with stationary towers that fire cannonballs whenever you begin drawing a line. The game says you can take them out by encircling them, but since they launch cannonballs that kill you if they hit your line, this feat is impossible. Instead you can encircle an icon on the battlefield that causes an "ancient catapult" to destroy one of the enemy towers, preventing it from firing any more cannonballs. The majority of your time on every map will be spent attempting to encircle these icons, since it is unlikely you will be able to even begin capturing the fortresses without first taking out those bloody cannons.

Fortix is no graphical tour de force but it does at least look better than other versions of Qix. Each map is nicely drawn sprite, but you'll notice very quickly that all the maps look somewhat "samey." That's because despite being unique layouts, they reuse all the same textures and objects. I never found myself thinking back to any particular level because they all honestly looked so similar that I couldn't distinguish them. The dragons and other monsters are so basic and had such little animation that I was not impressed by them at all: there was more life in Qix's vector graphic foes than these beasts of legend. The menus are the definition of basic. There's a "high score" menu option, but rather than actually tell me my scores, it listed how many points achieved each medal rank. I haven't been able to tell if I've earned any of these medals or even what my scores are for levels I've completed. The game's one and only mode, the Campaign, is based around a map with several levels dotting the landscape. Despite the fact that you can move the cursor to any level on the map, you can only select the next level in the campaign to play. You can also select any level you've previously played, though there's never an incentive to do so.

At first listen, Fortix does all right in the audio department. After five minutes of play, however, you've heard everything Fortix has to offer. I began to find the sword-metal-"shing" effect particularly grating when I discovered it was used for everything in the menus. There appear to be only two musical tracks, both of which are in the medieval fantasy vein, but I've honestly heard better at my local Renaissance fair. The audio in levels is plenty weak. There's a sound effect for the activation of an "ancient catapult" that is shorter than the animation its associated with. The worst sound of all accompanies your character's death: it sounds like a crumpled piece of dry paper burning up in a fire. Perhaps it's an appropriate effect for a character who expires when an enemy simply contacts the line its he's drawing, but it just doesn't seem to fit the game. 

Your cursor is portrayed as a knight which must traverse a variety of terrain types, each of which has a different effect on your speed. Various secret powerups appear randomly on the field, granting you benefits like increased speed or a stoppage of time if you manage to encircle them. Typically powerups are never on the screen long enough to actually collect, unless they fortunately appear directly in your path. This is because Fortix cannot be played with speed other than "baby steps." There are so many obstacles homing in on your character that the only way to progress is to advance piece by tiny piece towards your objectives. This would be less painful if you were not under stringent time limits in every level.The game's slow pace is exacerbated by long load times. I cannot rightly fathom why the load times would be so long when all the level's resources are so common. Victory and defeat are accompanied by ever-helpful "You Win!" and "You Have Died." screens as well as another long load time to either restart the level or select a new one. The load times are a little better when you play the game on the PS3, but the console version suffers from the odd graphical glitch instead. The biggest problem with Fortix is its precision. The game's line-drawing mechanic is pixel perfect, which turns its fairly large knight cursor into a massive obstruction. Often times it'll seem like you've connected a new line to an existing one, but you can't travel down the old line for some reason. Eventually you discover that your lines are a mere one pixel apart and that small separation stops you dead in your tracks. The separation is impossible to spot unless you back up your knight to check; the knight is large and offers no view of the line underneath it. This leads to added frustration and further slows down the pace of the game.

In conclusion, Fortix is something I cannot recommend for the price.
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