the writings of a mind

Title: Gorky Zero: Beyond Honor
Genre: Stealth Action
Strap: And please welcome John Walker to announce the winner of the dumbest game name ever…

"Move like a butterfly, sting like a bee," says Gorky Zero’s woefully stupid box. ‘A boxing sim’, you question? ‘I’ve never heard of boxer Gorky Zero,’ you may riposte. No, not at all, you’ve been fooled. it's a Metal Gear Solid-a-like stealth action. Sneaky, huh?

Emerging from Poland, Gorky Zero (prequel to 1999’s Gorky 17) makes the strange and clichéd decision to dredge up American and Russian hostility. Set in the present day, it runs with the tired old idea that despite the Cold War ending, the KGB has continued with its malevolent aims. Deep in their underground facilities, they have been developing what is probably meant to be the ultimate enemy: zombie robots. Sigh. Human beings, drained of all life and will, cybernautically enhanced to create the most useless waste of time imaginable. In leaps elite soldier Cole Sullivan, all guns and tiptoes, attempting to prevent this somewhat ludicrous threat from reaching the rest of the world.

Perhaps the easiest way to explain how far GZ falls short of its aims would be to use the nonsensical list of features the game boasts:

"Different camera perspectives" – You either see things via the absolutely abysmal isometric view, or the first-person gun aiming perspective. The former is fixed in such a way that you cannot see more than a few metres ahead – in a game that requires you to sneak past baddies, not being able to see the baddies can cause this to become a little… challenging. The aiming view can give an occasional glimpse into the distance, but cannot be used to play properly.

"Gameplay adjusts to the gamers needs and wants" (sic) – This gamer needed the game to allow him to sneak past guards, and hide. Not for the guards to all come fitted with the ability to see you four hundred miles away, while crouched behind a barrel, in the pitch black. This gamer also wanted to be on holiday in the Bahamas. The game appeared to adjust to neither.

"Tactical stealth action at it’s best" (sic) – Perhaps a tactical stealth action at its best wouldn’t have bullets be randomly ineffective at point blank range, door switches the opposite end of levels from the doors, footstep noises that clip-clop on grass, a radar that registers dead bodies as alive, terrible clipping, and chapters called "Ain’t got no eyes, got balls instead." (See the video on the DVD for evidence of much of these). Perhaps.

It isn’t that Gorky Zero is terrible. It’s just that it fails to achieve anything it’s set out to do. Because of the psychic guards, stealth is near-impossible. And it turns out you may as well just run in, shoot everyone as loudly as you can, and then move on. And that’s no fun at all.

Gorky Zero offers you a training mission before you start, which is probably more revealing of the game’s central faults, than it is a guide for how to play. Set in a mysteriously Tron-like virtual reality thingamy, the main methods of guard death are demonstrated, setting your murderous intent upon orange glowy baddies. A terse-voiced guide gives you instructions, as you very quickly realise the enormous flaws. The painfully slow speed of movement, the astonishing senses of the guards, and the tedium of laying traps and waiting around corners.
Clearly what is missing are really thin neon bikes, that can take remarkably tight corners.

 Stealth action with little action and no stealth. Problematic.


Tech Specs:

Publisher: JoWood
Developer: Metropolis
Minimum System: PIII 400 CPU, 128Mb RAM, 16Mb 3D card
Recommended: PIII 800 CPU, 256Mb RAM, 32Mb 3D card
Multi-player: No online
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