By RayCarter 2 Comments
“Suddenly copying and borrowing ideas from other good games shamelessly sounds like a GREAT plan”
To all who are reading this piece, I apologize.
I’ve made plans to fill up the entire month of May with a Code Lyoko-thon, where I complete all 3 of the Code Lyoko games and write reviews about each and every one of them.
So I feel a bit ashamed to admit that I will stop playing (and therefore not legitimately review) Code Lyoko: Fall of XANA, the most recent CL game produced by Neko Entertainment and published by The Game Factory.
It feels weird to me writing this, because I wanted to finish the job. I’ve been around some bad games, and even then I made a vow to finish it all up and then vent out my frustrations. This time however, I just don’t have the heart this time around to pull through. Code Lyoko: Fall of XANA (now refer to as F.X) is the first game I legitimately don’t like in a long, long, time.
In this post, however, I will try to give as accurate a picture as possible with the 5 or so hours I’ve poured into the game. My impressions, as you have already surmised, are pretty negative.
Let’s cut to the chase: Like the last two games, Fall of XANA does nothing to help players new to the Code Lyoko universe. You are thrown straight into the plot, a group of boarding school students digitizing to fight an evil computer program, without any exposition or “last time on Code Lyoko” segments. Characters again feel one dimensional and flat and there is absolutely no redeeming quality whatsoever about the story. It’s a huge black mark to the competent source material.
But as mentioned, the same could be said for Code Lyoko: Quest For Infinity. The reason why I hung around that game longer than any is because the game is actually fun, and there are really good moments like boss battles and some creative platforming. FX ditches the action game conventions from the first two games and goes with an RPG formula. Like the question of whether Black Widow should have her own movie, the change is OK so long as the formula is smartly and creatively executed. FX completely lacks creativity whatsoever when it comes to its gameplay. The whole experience boils down to running around a map (with the stylus), encountering and defeating XANA’s monsters, fighting a large boss battle, rinse and repeat. I could elaborate on extra features like a multiplayer option or customizing the characters by plug-ins, but the latter is so simple and the former underused; not many people play Fall of XANA, as far as I understand.
Actual combat within the game boils down to a war of attrition, as to who falls flat on his/her face first. There is no strategy involved, you just spam normal attacks, super attacks and hit-more-than-one-foe attacks to send the opponent’s hit points to zero, save for when you need to open up a HP-regenerating program to save characters from deletion. That’s all there is to it, really, even the boss battles. My biggest pet peeve, and a major reason why I stopped playing, is that there is no map when moving around Lyoko, so you are going to get lost. Better to let the game hold my hand rather than frustrate me to no end.
Code Lyoko’s strongest feature, its presentation, is largely compromised here. 2D sprites are OK and the in-battle 3D graphics are the highlight, but for 75% of the time you will stare down a weird blocky Lyoko representation. It looks terrible and dated. The soundtrack, also a strong point, is replaced by generic beats that are not worth mentioning.
The only thing I am fine with in Fall of XANA is that it indeed shows the near-end of the show, the part where XANA is wiped off the face of the earth, hence living up to its title. But the double digits hours I will probably have to give to see that ending, most of which will be about aimless wandering because of no map, is not worth it. Especially when the gameplay is simply boring and the narrative is as bare-bones as ever. Because this is not an official review I will not give a rating, but I will say this:
The mechanics around Fall of XANA puts the game firmly in RPG 101 territory, making it a game you might want to rent to learn about the basic nuances of the RPG genre. But there are far more superior products out there, like Glory of Heracles and Sonic Chronicles (both of which I’ve fully reviewed and noted their relative simplicity), that are both incredibly approachable as RPGs and ultimately enjoyable. Fall of XANA fails at even the most simplistic levels of the RPG formula, and is ultimately a tedious game to play. Just do yourself a favor and stay away from this game.
** Up next, a grand retrospect on the 3 Code Lyoko games and the game series as a whole.
** Hopefully, with this amount of time, I can create a review for Code Lyoko, the show (at least for season 1, ~25 episodes)