Thursday, December 01, 2005

For the Love of Game Demos

One of the games on my IGN 'Wish List'was Hammer & Sickle, a strategy-RPG by a Russian developer based on the acclaimed Silent Storm engine. Everything that I read about it looked quite interesting - you play as a Russian agent in early Cold War located in the Allied zone of Germany, you get to choose a character type and progress through the game, and there broad flexibility in the turn-based combat system.

A demo was just released for the game. Obeying one of my Gaming Resolutions, I downloaded and installed the game immediately. The game opens with a long series of cutscenes, which are interactive to the extent that I needed to constantly click 'next' to advance the dialogue. By the time the action moves to player-control, I already had a bad feeling - poor translation of bad dialogue, lousy voice acting, mediocre graphics and not great performance.

Playing for a while I became painfully aware that the game is just awful. I have no need to spend $40 to get the full version to confirm this - and I have no desire to play this game in some attempt to uncover the 'golden nugget' that might be hiding. This isn't really my game type, but looked interesting enough to check out.

Amusingly, had my Gothic II Gold pre-order arrived at EBGames when scheduled, I was going to pre-order this game ... so while I'm lamenting the shipping delays with Gothic, it appears to have saved me $40.

This is also a validation of the value of demos. Prior to the release of Deus Ex Invisible War I would often buy a game without trying a demo even if it was available ... but after getting burned by that game I resolved to test out anything I possible could.

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