Monday, July 04, 2011

Review: Child of Eden

Thank you, Tetsuya Mizuguchi. Thank you, Ubisoft. The dust has now been wiped from the top of my Kinect, which for so many months became little more than the most expensive ornament ever. Now, Kinect has been brought back to life - its all-seeing lights shining once again, capturing my every move and gesture...

To say I'd become disillusioned with Microsoft's much-hyped gadget is perhaps a little extreme but until recently, I had been wondering whether avatar boxing or trying to imitate Lady Gaga's dance moves was as good as it got. Fortunately, Kinect has found redemption. Thank you, Child of Eden.

For those of you who remember the heady days of the PlayStation 2 and Rez, you'll be in your element with its spiritual successor, Child of Eden.

You'll be forgiven for forgetting about the plot as soon as you start playing but all you really need to know is that you've got to get rid of a virus that's infecting the internet - or Eden - or a girl called Lumi - or something. These nasties float about the place, occasionally firing projectiles in your direction. The aim is to see them off before you take too many hits so that you can progress to the next level. Simple.

This is a single-player rail shooter like no other; sensory overload is perhaps the best way to describe it. Screenshots just don't do this it justice. In fact, this is a game you really need to experience. Not since Flower on the PS3 has a game so perfectly showcased the hardware and controller.

Although a conventional pad can be used to move the reticule and shoot, it's the Kinect wizardry that really steals the show and sucks you in. It's an absolute joy to play with Kinect - so much so that switching to a standard controller feels almost alien after a while. We'd go as far as suggesting it even saps a little enjoyment out of the game. Kinect is hugely responsive and immersive too, throwing you into the game and making you feel fully in control of the proceedings.

Waving your right arm in front of you locks on to up to eight enemy targets. A push forward fires the weapon and sees them explode in a blast of colour. The left arm fires a slightly weaker laser that shoots more frequently and is the only way to purge the screen of incoming projectiles. The onscreen HUD is minimal and doesn't distract from the goings-on either; a health bar lies in the bottom right - each petal representing a bar of health, which you'll find will rapidly deplete. The bottom left of the screen indicates how many "Euphoria" smart bombs are available - which can be activated by raising both arms quickly above your head. The result explosion takes out all enemies in one go.

It all feels slightly trippy while playing - an explosion of sounds and shapes spilling from your television screen. Time your gunfire so the resulting explosions are in time with the music and there are plenty of bonus points to be had, helping you to rack up some high scores. There are only five main stages, which you'll complete fairly quickly but who cares when the game is so enjoyable? Sadly it only really amounts to a few hour's gameplay although there are some unlockables and challenges to keep you hooked a little longer.

With each level lasting only around 15 minutes, the cost:play ratio isn't particularly brilliant and it could deter some people. Currently the game's replayability is questionable too - but if DLC were to appear on the horizon, it would be a much more worthwhile purchase. When this game falls in price a little, it's must-have status will be even greater.

Overall, this is an awesome game that must be experienced. If you have Kinect at your disposal and can forgive the fact that it won't dominate your time as much as some other titles out there, this is definitely a game worth playing. If it lasted a little longer, it would be a must have purchase... as it stands, a rental is probably the best option.

*Reviewed on Xbox 360