Sunday, 17 November 2013

Review: Remember Me (PS3)


Remember Me is a game with a great if not sometimes over utilised premise.  Amnesia, that magical character trait that allows a writer to pace their story while explaining things in nice little bunches at set points.  When used correctly it works wonders, while in other stories it only frustrates the audience especially when the holes become more and more obvious as the story progresses but the writer still expects you to be in the dark all the while.

This is what Remember Me is like.  Set in the near future city of Neo Paris you play as Nilin, a prisoner of the infamous La Bastille fortress undergoing a somewhat painful process to remove her memories.  Unaware of who exactly she is or why she is in this place she takes advice from the enigmatic Edge to escape the facility and into Neo Paris, beginning a journey of self discovery and corporate intrigue.

It all sounds cool and aesthetically it is but Remember Me could have been a great game if not for some fairly bland or even frustrating mechanics.  The setting is actually very well realised with you travelling across the varied districts of this near future Paris in a world recovering from a war of vague description.  Humanity has become dependant on a new type of technology called Sensen, a device which is connected to the brain allowing users to replay, store and digitally transfer memories from place to place.  People can share each others memories and experience those same moments together as many times as they want.  But as with all super technology created by a mega corporation there are always ways to abuse this new wonder tech.

The environments are incredibly detailed
Nilin is known as a memory hunter, capable of literally stealing a persons memories and even rewrite them entirely.  This ability is shown in game a few scarce times but are the highlights of the experience.  The ability to watch a persons memory and then be able to manipulate the environment to alter the memory entirely.  Presented as if you are watching a VHS tape which you can rewind and slow down to pick out particular objects in the event.  You cannot fail these events, merely alter things to see how they effect the scene, sometimes leading to the wrong outcome.  Sadly these events are few and far between and honestly if the game was full of these it would have been a top notch experience.

Outside of these memory rewrites the game is a linear platformer with some combat elements sprinkled in, neither of which feel particularly well crafted.  Platforming isn't very smooth or intuitive like Uncharted but it is easy with plenty of markers to show you where to go next so you don't get lost.  The problem sometimes is that even when you do everything the game wants you to do it can still screw up and kill you.  Running and jumping toward a platform will sometimes result in Nilin just jumping past the object and falling to her death.

Combat is a chore and never satisfying to play.  Enemies take an inordinate amount of punishment to drop and the animations are incredibly jerky and rough.  Enemies swarm around you blocking your view and making it difficult to land combo's as they constantly attack.  The camera sometimes takes an odd angle further ruining the already underwhelming combat.  It's a shame really as the combat does have a neat little combo creation system called the combo lab.  Here you can select numerous types of attack that either deal more damage, heal you, recharge your special abilities or power up the other three depending on it's position in the combo. 

Enemy variety is also fairly limited with most types being simple re-skins of earlier foes or the same type with a shield or able to go invisible.  The boss fights are also fairly uninspired each requiring a heroic quick time event to finish them off, but with how awkward and bland the combat is anyway it isn't much of a loss for the player. 

Some elements of combat are flashy but it's still bland
I honestly get the feeling that the developers originally set out to create an open world game with Nilin being able to explore the city and it's now forgotten underground slums and sewers.  The idea of being a memory hunter, stalking your targets and remixing their memory to your own ends is a cool idea for a sandbox title.  As a linear experience it falls flat.  The story is certainly interesting but the characters are all too forgetful to build any meaningful relationship with.  Nilin is largely forgettable as the heroine of the piece and comes off as being a little too whiny for my tastes while Edge is a far more interesting character.  The rest of the cast is your run of the mill fare, the best friend who you see twice, the traitor to the cause, evil corporate boss, femme fatale and assassin all of which become immediately forgotten about after you have met them.

Visually the game is pretty good.  The Augmented reality aspect of the game world is cool and likely something we will see in the next twenty years with shops having AR adverts when you look at the window, warning signs on pipes or near roadworks that sort of thing.  The cities districts each have their own flavour and style with the earlier sections in the city itself being the best part of the game in my opinion.  Characters look detailed although their expressiveness is limited with Nilin always looking like a blank slate every time you move the camera round to see her talking. 

The audio is generally good with music tracks reacting to the events on screen sometimes becoming corrupted as you use special attacks or the environment is damaged in some way, it's a nice touch.  The voice acting is passable but nothing you would remember any specific lines from.  Even though it's set in France none of the characters speak French or even have a French accent.  Nilin has a distinct Southern English accent, Edge is American as are numerous other NPC's, even the citizens of the city all speak with American accents.  It's off putting and drags you out of the setting really.  Imagine playing Assassin's Creed II without Ezio's Italian accent or anyones for that matter, it would be weird.

Overall Remember Me is a number of good ideas all rolled into a pretty middle of the road game.  Combat isn't broken but isn't exactly fun, platforming is safe if not sometimes glitchy when it comes to jumping, the story is interesting to begin with eventually becoming predictable, the characters are OK but nothing to write home about while the audio has some nice tracks but the voice direction is lazy and breaks the immersion.  It's not worth full price at launch and really isn't worth all that much now.  After completing it there is no real reason to return outside of finding the odd journal entry or minor experience item.  There is no new game plus or challenge modes and it's unlikely to get a sequel.

SCORE: 5.0/10

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