Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon

Review

posted 1/6/2004 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
Platforms: Xbox
You know, I’ve known Ben for quite some time now. It’s been what, three, four years that we’ve worked together in the business? He’s a great guy and all but something in the New York water must have really corroded his judgment because the poor guy actually found some redeeming elements in his review of Ubi Soft’s Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. It’s fitting that a game based on a movie that came out three years ago would be so dated, bland and most of all, boring. Aside from the voice acting and the music, both of which seem lifted from the major motion picture, there’s not one thing that CTHD does right. Its controls are unintuitive, its graphics obsolete and its gameplay light years behind the competition. When simple tasks such as running diagonally are a chore you know you’re in for one hell of an annoying ride.

Combat is one of the main selling points of the movie so one would expect it to be the highlight of this title. Instead of treating players to a beautiful ballet of acrobatic maneuvers and smooth flowing combat CTHD features a very disjointed combat system that seems to have been lifted straight out of the 16-bit days. There’s no targeting system so players will have to swing blindly, hoping to make contact with an enemy. It’s difficult enough to take on one foe but the game has a tendency to throw multiple enemies at you, making for some very tedious situations. In a show of sheer stupidity your characters have a tendency to pose after performing a string of maneuvers, leaving you wide open to attack. Other titles, such as Ubi’s own Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, utilize some very innovative and simple systems that allow for fluid multi-enemy combat so it’s a wonder why CTHD makes it so damn annoying and frustrating.

If that’s not enough to turn you off the inane camera system most certainly will. Upon entering the game the problems are imminent. It’s nearly impossible to get a clear view of the action without having to constantly babysit the vantage point. Most times your enemies will stand in front of the camera, obscuring your view entirely as his buddies pummel you to death. You can zoom the camera out more but the camera is always situated in a fashion where you can’t really see where you’re going. This is especially tedious when you’re running around the environment in search of your next objective and you’ve got a top-down view of your character.

CTHD plays like a first generation title so it’s no wonder that it looks like one as well. All of the environments are fairly plain and feature the same terrain and scattered objects. Not much is done to provide distinction from one area to the next so you’re generally very lost as you roam the areas and try to figure out where you’re supposed to go. All of the textures in the game are very low resolution and look absolutely horrid, especially in the close-ups. I know there’s a running stereotype that all Asians look alike but this is just ridiculous. Nearly every enemy in the game looks the same, save for a few discrepancies in their garb. Like the rest of the visuals in the game they look just as bad and feature very little refinement in their build. Their models are very low poly and the animations are pretty jerky on the whole. The artists tried to implement some special effects but the ones here are just plain awful and look like they were crafted on technology from the PlayStation One, not the Xbox. I’m talking non-volumetric smoke and shadows that float through walls and objects here.

Perhaps the only true redeeming element of this title resides in the semi-decent audio elements. Some of the music from the major motion picture has made it into the game but it’s done in such a repetitive fashion that its usage becomes yet another annoyance. There are bits and pieces of audio from the movie in the game that help splice together the storyline. Thankfully the designers opted to go for the Mandarin soundtrack as opposed to the significantly inferior English dub that was available in American releases.

I’ve played my fair share of crappy games in the past so I’m well aware of what to expect from throwaway titles such as this. But there’s a problem here, this shouldn’t have been a throwaway title that was pushed to the market for the sake of recouping some extra costs. There is absolutely no reason to buy Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon for the Xbox, it’s one of the worst games that I’ve ever played and not one element of the game compels me to come back to it. Unless your only other option is to play Drake> I’d suggest that you stay the hell away from this game.



F
Looking for another beat em up to sit alongside Otogi in your collection? Well keep right on looking, because this is definitely one of the worst games of 2003. How bad is it? I'd rather play New Legends.


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