Giants is the first big commercial game to require Mac OS X, so it will be interesting to see how it sells. It’s a sort of comedy shoot’em-up, with gor’ blimey Cockney spacemen and funny Scottish aliens. I say funny – but we’re not talking belly laughs here. Comedy’s a funny old game, and this funny old game is trying a bit too hard – without raising a laugh. I’m sure it seemed like a good idea at the time, but it is more likely to raise groans than grins.
Gameplay, however, is a different matter. You start by playing a Mecc, one of the Cockney spaceman I mentioned earlier. I say Cockney, but the voices used are of the worst American mockney. I suspect they are voiced by ex-pat English people who have lived in the US so long they can’t even fake an English accent any more. If you remember Daphne’s brother in Frasier you’ll get the picture.
You’re gently eased into the game by small foes, but you have equally puny firepower. The first baddies you come across are the Rippers – fast and ferocious plant-like things that consist mostly of teeth. Once you attract their attention, they start tunnelling like Bugs Bunny on speed, popping up in front of you to bite and spit explosive plasma balls. They aren’t too difficult to defeat, but they tend to gang up on you. The good thing is, once you kill a full-grown Ripper you can gain energy points from the remains.
In the first mission you rescue a young Smartie, a native super-intelligent (compared to the Meccs, at least) alien. He gives some guidance on how things work, and later in the game the Smarties will give you bigger and better weaponry.
For some reason, the Smarties tend to be Scottish – though I guessed this from the tartan kilt rather than the accent, which is worse than the mockney Meccs. The performance makes Mel Gibson sound like a native by comparison. Thankfully, the accent fades as the game progresses.
You’re encouraged to help the Smarties defeat the evil Sea Reapers. The deal is pitched by a Smartie claiming that he needs help because “he is old and his balls are saggy”. Nuff said…
Sea Reaper men are a more formidable enemy. They shoot you from great distances and hide when you try to shoot back. By this point, you’ve been joined by your other Mecc pals Tel, Reg, Gordon and Bennet. As a team you stand a better chance of defeating the baddies.
One thing I miss is the ability to set the difficulty level. I tend to play games at the easy settings because I don’t have much leisure time. Fortunately, this game isn’t impossible – but neither is it easy.
You may be wondering why I haven’t mentioned any Giants. Actually, I was wondering where the giants were, too. In fact, you don’t get to see any giants until the end of the Mecc missions. Even then, it’s only a brief glimpse. Then you get to play a Sea Reaper, Delphi, daughter of Queen Sappho (not to be confused with the poet of Lesbos).
Once you’ve mastered the jet pack and weaponry of the Meccs, you need to change gear and master the powers of Delphi. Delphi is armed with a bow and arrow – quite a step down from the machine guns and rocket launchers of the Meccs. You do get magic though, so you can get tooled-up with wizardry instead of weaponry.
Being a sea creature, swimming is fast (in a Man from Atlantis kind of way) and also life-giving. If you’re getting low on life, just take a dip in the nearest pool and you’ll be healed. Coping without a jet pack is a pain at first, but after a short while you get the ability to use blur speed. Simply aim yourself and hit turbo, and you’re launched at the target area.
Only when the Delphi missions are completed do you get to play the part of Kabuto the giant. Despite being an enormous mythical beast, his missions aren’t a walkover. The Meccs and the Sea Reapers have plenty of firepower and spells to spoil your trampling. He is, however, a very bad giant. Kabuto will kill or eat (or both) everyone in his path. Somehow Kabuto must have been watching WWF (the wrestling not the wildlife fund), because he has some wresting moves. Being so much larger than your opponents is great for hitting whole groups of enemies with one swipe.
Despite the not-very-funny humour and the Dick Van Dyke accents, Giants is a great game. You need a fairly up-to-date Mac to get the best from it, and you’ll need OS X. But the game-play is a new slant on the average slaughter fest. The graphics are impressive and fast, and the multitude of attack methods keeps things interesting.
The ability to play the game from three different characters is fun. I was a little disappointed to find that I had to wait a long while before becoming Kabuto, but it was worth it. You might want to think twice about letting young kids play it, as you have Smarties complaining about their saggy bits. However, the under-14s are the only people likely to find the humour hilarious, so what the heck.