Friday, 15 February 2013

PO'ed (3DO)

On my Devastation post last FPS Friday, commenter MikPal asked "When will we get an FPS that would allow us to go crazy as a fine dining chef?"

POed 3do title screen
It's time to scrape the dust off the 3DO and get PO'ed.

"PO'ed"? Do people really say things like that? Has anybody ever made a mistake and said they "FU'ed"? Surely "P***ED OFF" in big letters would've been more direct?

Anyway. You want to see a kick-ass chef? Get this! (Sorry Mobygames.)

Don't you just wanna play this game? RIGHT NOW? It looks so cool! Here's a chef fighting off aliens in space with a laser gun and a frying pan and has a cleaver and a spatula and spoons strapped to him. AND HE HAS A JETPACK!! (The 3DO version's cover isn't nearly as interesting. (external link))

Let's see for ourselves whether or not this really is 'an excellent game'.

The game opens with some high-quality CD audio (YouTube link) and a screen of scrolling text from our heroic chef, Ox.

<<< begin transmission >>>

Dear Mom,

What a crappy day. What a really crappy day. It sure seemed like a sweet deal back at base. Imitate an ice cube for three months, feed some dumb mercs for two weeks and then three more moths in the fridge on the ride home. Two weeks of work for six months of pay. Not bad, not bad at all. Well, the cook is always the last to know what the hell is going on. I never would've taken this if I knew it was going to be a bug hunt. I hate bug hunts. The mercs got greased inside half an hour. No surprise, they were all a bunch of sorry-assed stim phreaks. Too bad they're the ones who knew how to move this crate. I've been awake three hours, help is three months away and the bugs've already managed to blast a few holes in the ship. I figure my chances are better downside then being a sitting duck up here. The weapons are gone, but my frying pan and butcher's knife have saved my ass before. Whoops! Gotta run. Things are heating up. I guess it's time to find some fresh meat.

Love, Ox

<<< end transmission >>>


No animated intro though. Shame. They've filled up the disc with awesome music and superbly detailed graphics, I bet!

ENTERING LEVEL: POMPOUS

What the hell is that!? It's like a... butt... on legs? Except it has butts on both sides! And one side has a beak!

All I've got to defend myself is a blood-stained frying pan! Whack 'em, Ox!

That's DISGUSTING. I don't want those things coming anywhere near me! God damn it, get it away! Where's my knife?! How do I switch weapons?

Phew. I beat half a dozen of those things into paste and now my poor frying pan is now covered in I-don't-know-what.

This is the room where I started. It might be the bridge of the spaceship, but it's rather abstract looking. It's just a large green room full of ramps.

Any more butt-monsters try to eat my face, all they'll be eating is the back-side of this here pan. 'cause I haven't been able to find a gun yet. Or my damned jetpack.

I left the demo mode running for ten minutes, but even the recorded player couldn't find either the gun or the jetpack.

Through that doorway leads to over a dozen absolutely identical rooms, joined together by floaty platforms and lifts. I'm sure there's a cache of culinary-themed implements of destruction waiting for me in Ox's kitchen, but it's nowhere to be found.

Almost all of this level looks a bit like this. It's funny how every room looks the same as the others, but none of them look like 'anywhere'.

At some point I think I managed to turn the music off and I can't get it to come back. These rooms are weirdly silent apart from the constant calls of the monsters.

JUMP

Huh, that was strange. The level just abruptly ended. Did I win? There wasn't any sort of scrolling text like in POMPOUS, so maybe I found a secret exit? No way to know!

If the last level seemed like an arbitrary collection of shapes jammed together, take a look at this one. From the screenshot, you might be expecting all the platforms to move up and down like pistons but they're thankfully static.

I found my butcher's knife at last and I figured out how to change weapons. (Ray threw the manual at me.)

You've got to double tap the C button (on the far right) to bring up the weapon select, then use the shoulder buttons (which are otherwise strafe, so no dodging for you!) to select weapon and then the C button again to confirm. You're then at the mercy of the console because the game has to LOAD THE WEAPON GRAPHICS FROM DISK DURING ACTIVE GAMEPLAY AND YOU CAN'T ATTACK.

The butcher's knife is actually an infinite stash of throwing knives. They're slow in the air, and the Doom-like style auto-aim means hitting moving targets is impossible.

The heck is this anyway? It's like some kind of fireball-shooting rocket goblin.

As I leap from cube to cube, a glancing touch from a very slight ramp sends Ox flying across the level into a deep pit of (almost) inescapable lava. (It did come out the same year as Fears, after all.)

Yes, there's no floor textures. Yes, Ox is missing the lower dozen pixels of his hand. Yes, I haven't found how to turn the music back on.

Is it possible that there really is no ingame music? Is my 3DO busted? There was music on the title screen!

SPONGE

Level 3. Still no guns. This level seems to be a mishmash of pits and paper-thin walls all smashed together. This is the best shot I can get of it. It feels as if the level hasn't loaded right. I keep falling down through false floors and getting shoved through false walls.

Let's check out the automap!

This is not a place. Places don't look like this.

There's four of these disconnected cube rooms floating in space; the green tiles show the path I've taken so far. I guess I must be looking for teleporters or something.

I fell down again. I think I've found the very bottom of this particular cube. There's a tell-tale 'magic' harp sound effect down here! Is that a secret calling to me through the walls?

There's several switches down here (hold C, tap A to activate). Most of them move the walls around and release yet more ass beasts. Only a savvy chef knows that a floating switch panel in mid-air has a front and a back!

I've FINALLY found my jetpack! Yay! Now all I need is my gun and I'm the guy from the box!

The jetpack is surprisingly easy to use. It replaces the jump button: tapping toggles the hover and holding makes you ascend. The game was definitely designed around the jetpack, so why did they hide it in this completely obtuse place?

I couldn't begin to tell you what this room is supposed to be. I thought I was picking up a couple of medkits, but they were a trap that teleported me here. There's a series of notes going up and down in the background driving me nuts, like this was a secret area in a platform game. There's... washing machines on the walls?

Now we are CRACKING.

Laser pistol. Rapid fire bursts of jagged lightning that makes butt monsters shudder and splatter into puddles of mashed potato. It even has completely pointless spikes sticking out of it.

Now which way to go...? The only way out of my current cube is those trick medkits that teleported me to the washing machine dimension.

Aaaand... there's a false wall within the washing machine dimension that Ox can walk through unimpeded that lets you proceed onwards. That's just great. I'd be absolutely furious (and not to mention buggered gameplay-wise) if these things weren't visible on the very nice 3D map beforehand.

Now I'm in some corridors. There's a reason why games have corridors. Corridors make God-damned sense.

This place sort of looks like Lifeforce Tenka, puling the same lighting tricks to make the place look cool.

Through there is a vertical drop into a room full of butts. I can't shoot them from up here thanks to the small amount of vertical aiming I have (3DO doesn't have analogue sticks. I have to hold the C button just to get Ox to look down a tiny bit.)

If I jump down, I end up landing on top of a butt monster and they all eat me. Start again! From the start of the game!

It's my own fault. The game lets you save at any time, I just assumed the game wouldn't completely restart when I died. Just how old fashioned is that?

Flamethrower! Hahaha! Nothing like the smell of fried ass in the morning. Christ, that sounds horrible.

And what the hell!? This thing uses up my JETPACK FUEL!? That's ridiculous! I need that jetpack to move! What a pile of crap! Uses up fuel, can't see worth a damn while I use it, does barely any damage, has no range whatever. No, no, no, no.

I'm finding it strange that there's absolutely no celebration or acknowledgement when I complete a level. The level end marker is a pulsing purple energy field that I thought was a 'shield' powerup the first few times I ran at it. I want to hit a big frickin' switch at the end of my levels. And I want a 'Mission Complete' theme!

Imagine Doom without smacking a switch, and without everybody in the room joining in with the 'CHUG CHUG CHUG CHUG CHUG CHUG CHUG CHUG, NUH NUH NU-NUH, NUH NUH NU-NUH, NUH NUH NU-NU-NU-NU-NU-NU-NUHHHHHHHH' as a hail of chaingun fire lets you know you're not quite as wicked bad as John Romero on steroids, but you Killed A Lot of Shit, so it's alright.

PO'ed ends each level with a ridiculously cheap looking ENTERING LEVEL: BLAH caption. No illustration of Ox in his filthy kitchen standing over a pile of mangled butt-monster corpses saying something like "LET'S COOK SOME ASS" like Duke Nukem 3D (or Rex Blade). Not even a map. Even Nerves of Steel had a fucking map.

CORE

Steady up, Ox. This looks like a boss room.

Do I shoot the cone, or does that set off the self-destruct? Is that what I'm supposed to do? Nothing's shooting enemies at me, but there's jetpack fuel/flamethrower ammo and pistol ammo lying around everywhere.

Ugh. This game is giving me a splitting headache. I'm this close to giving up.

The level is a vertical cylinder with the large pencil-like structure from the previous screenshot running through it. There's flashing red, yellow and magenta floors with lightning springing off them which are actually intangible forcefield-like things I can fly right through without taking damage. (In JUMP, the exact same things were lava.)

There's rows and rows of very strong turrets lining the walls and I haven't got space to dodge. This looks like the top level, but it's not. I can fly through the black stuff on the ceiling too. That lava-lined tunnel really IS lava though, and I can go inside the pencil in the center... which leads absolutely nowhere.

This is one of the rooms through another one of those lava things, which was followed by a dark blue place full of pipes. There a gun in here and, as I picked it up, a million butt demons materialised silently behind me.

The level exit out of CORE was actually about five metres to the left of the starting position. There was no boss at all, no switch or anything. I just had to check the map and check off all the dead-ends one by one. All of these levels have been quite small, come to think of it. It's as if the developers couldn't work out how to render a large level at a decent frame-rate, so they went entirely in the opposite direction and made these levels that look and feel like having stuck my head in a bucket full of shards of broken glass.

But reflections, eh? Reflections!

SHUTTLE

Oh thank heavens! Look, it's a hangar! And a spaceship! You have no idea how relieved I am that I can tell what's going on!

We're going to try and get into the spaceship to escape!

This fully 3D, rotatable, 'Crystal Maze'-esque map is wasted on this game. It really is.

Step one, render the current room safe so I can explore it safely. Step two, press a switch that opens the walkway linking this empty hangar to the one with the ship in it!

Those red things are... I have no idea. They look like flying beating hearts and they're shooting flying sets of chomping teeth at me. They're impossible to hit, especially with the laser gun ammo I don't have.

Texture warping. I can't move without feeling dizzy because the developers constructed the walls of the hangar from single polygons, so that the entire texture distorts and stretches all over the place. It looks more like a skybox rather than a wall. It might actually BE a sky box.

These monsters are just a distraction. If I set my jetpack to Super Fast Mode, I can breeze past everything on the level and not waste my precious laser ammo on them. Rocket goblins do drop ammo eventually, but it's not enough to cover the cost of shooting them.

It's the Ooze, Ox, the Ooze! It's shooting sneezes at you, man! When you shoot it, it splits into two! Argh!

Flamethrower is the obvious choice here, if I ignore the fact that I'm in a large empty level with no ladders so I need the jetpack fuel to navigate the level WHAT AM I DOING?

And it hurts me to stand in the blob monsters' corpses. Great.

Oh fff...

I shot a wall when I was trying to shoot a monster. Shooting doors activates them. This door was an airlock. This is me being sucked out into space.

PO'ed? YOU WILL BE.

After doing the previous two levels all over again, let's see the same room from another angle. Some of these walls are doors, some of them are not. Shooting the wrong one kills you.

"mecha-neko, you already said that you can see secrets on the map!"

Ah, but this is the extra special bonus round! The airlock was marked on the map too! You have to scour the alien-geometry 3d map for secrets, identify the otherwise unmarked door in first person, and then shoot it! Only a 50/50 chance of you being instantly killed! Honest!

Spaceship!

I'm so close to a cool animated cutscene, I can feel it! Don't you just want to see a crappy 90's pre-rendered chef strap himself into the pilot's seat of that thing and blast off into space while your speakers tear themselves apart playing horribly mastered RAWK music?

It would make this entire ordeal worthwhile!

Can Ox throw his infinite supply of cleavers and hit the tiny flying teeth-shooting heart monsters AND find the exit in the last 21 seconds of jet pack fuel he has remaining before he falls out into free space?

Of course he can't. Don't be silly.

Especially not if he can't find where the exit is! Again! I'm sure I just need to open the ship door and go inside, and that'll be it.

I'll just look up a video on YouTube... so he goes through the hidden teleporter opposite the instant death airlock... shoots those guys... and WHOOPS. NOPE. I TURNED THE GAME OFF.

This is level... four? five? The game just threw one too many shoot-the-unmarked-wall puzzles at me. I've hit my limit. What was a combination of barely acceptable quirks and below-toilet-humour just became unbearable shite. TILT. Everything about this game sucks. I hate it. Go away.

I'd walked past the real exit about ten minutes ago. There's NO POINT to going in this room whatsoever. The real exit was an unmarked wall, hidden under a... blah, blah, blah. AND there's no animated cutscene when you find it. Hell, there's no cutscenes whatsoever! In the entire game! Or music! Just more of these shitty levels!

Maybe these hidden entrances are supposed to represent Ox smashing his way through the alien installations with his brute-force-chef-powers, but they're NOT MARKED. You need to MARK THESE THINGS WITH A CRACK. Surround them with BARRELS. If I can walk past the 'correct' way out of the level without even thinking 'If I get stuck, I need to come back to that skull/crack/switch/target/door/raised bridge later.', you've screwed up.

What the hell is the 3DO's problem? There were some good games made in the mid-nineties. I've played them! Did every developer with half a brain run to the hills when they heard that the 3DO was going to have games like Hell: A Cyberpunk Thriller?

A Playstation port of PO'ed was released a year after the original 3DO one. It's completely...

Playstation

the same. No analogue support as far as I can tell, and it has same bizarre hold-one-button-and-tap-another controls.

Playstation

It has an added tutorial/sandbox level to sucker in folks who just want to use all the end-game guns straight away. And floor textures! Sometimes!

Don't be fooled by this almost looking like a room, though. The next room is a bright purple cavern with platforms flying all over the place.

It's ox! From the credits screen of PO'ed! A chef with guns! From a crappy game! He doesn't look like the PSX Box Ox because nobody has played or cares about POed.
What's surprising me the most about this is that (ignoring the C button crap) the movement controls are solid, including the jetpack. When the game gave me the ability to see where I was going and the space to move around, I could get to work, even on the 3DO's pad. I don't doubt that having made one of the first fully 3D first person shooters ever is an achievement (on a completely unfamiliar console as well). If somebody were to take PO'ed's code and make a completely different game out of it (one based on human understandable geometry perhaps), then some good might have come from this.

The game has two jokes and it doesn't do anything with either of them.

One, you're a chef. You have a frying pan and a knife. But they suck, so you use a laser gun instead. Do you make culinary wisecracks? Do you even enter a kitchen at any point?

The second joke is that you're fighting double-assed ass monsters from outer space that throw giant shitballs at you. And that's not really a joke. That's just sickness.

Best chef game on the site? I dunno. I think I might've enjoyed playing BurgerTime more.

6 comments:

  1. Wow... Personally I was expecting The Swedish Chef's Kitchen of Doom (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OkWaeaBYCsY), but this is just a bit... Bipolar?

    It's like the folks at Any Channel were just making a scifi shooter for the 3DO when suddenly the main designer kicked in the door with a picture of an armed chef that his/her nephew/child/random kid drew and screamed:
    "Screw that space marine stuff we're trying to do here, culinary chefs are the heroes of generation X!"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That video is absolutely mesmerising.

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  2. Haha, this genuinely looks like the biggest piece of crap you've reviewed in a long time.

    Keep up the great work! :D

    ReplyDelete
  3. You have a great blog!!
    I'm a fan of old games and loved your site. Congratulations!

    ReplyDelete
  4. An excellent review.

    That first 3D map looks like a Q*bert level.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Man, I love this game to death. Always have, always will.

    ReplyDelete

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