Renegade Kid is back with another FPS, this time a sequel to the fairly well received 'Dementium: The Ward.' Have they perfected their craft or is this just another DS FPS game to avoid?
I’m going to come right out and say it - "almost" every FPS game on the 'Nintendo DS' sucks. It's really awkward to support the DS entirely with your left hand while aiming with your right hand. The experience simply can’t compare to that of a mouse and keyboard, or even a controller. The first few games that I played in this genre made me feel like it shouldn’t even be attempted. However, there is one developer that making me rethink my position, and that developer is 'Renegade Kid.' Their game 'Moon' for the DS is in my opinion the best FPS on the system. With great graphics, a smooth frame rate, and super tight controls, I had a blast playing it. 'Dementium II' goes even further graphically, and in my opinion it has even better controls, but it still falls short in a lot of areas.
The game starts out with you waking up to discover that you just had brain surgery and that you’re being wheeled back to your cell to be locked up. Needless to say, things aren’t going too well for you. On top of all of that, once and a while you shift into another reality that is even bleaker than the first one, filled with all kinds of nasty creatures and a particularly nasty doctor. The overall story is pretty vague, and it's told through some stellar cutscenes, but mostly with notes and papers that you’ll find scattered around. That's standard horror game faire though. Your job is to fight your way through the real and twisted realities, and after five chapters, which lasted me around four and a half hours, you will find yourself squaring off against a final boss and then to view one final disappointing (for me at least) cutscene.
The story in this game is not the draw with 'Dementium II' - it's the technical aspects that really make the game shine. The frame rate is a solid, running without slowdown at 60 FPS-- and the graphics are some of the best I’ve seen on the Nintendo DS. Considering how smoothly 'Dementium II' runs, you know these programmers worked their asses off. I really wish there was more blood and gore in the game, but I imagine its probably left out because of the limitations of the DS. Blood and gore would have made the experience a lot darker. It's pretty much impossible to get scared when playing a game on a 2” screen.
The shooting and inventory mechanics 'Dementium II' are top notch. The aiming is so smooth and precise that it almost feels as good as a mouse and keyboard. The inventory system is also really easy to manage, but thats no surprise if you’ve already played 'Moon.' There are lots of great weapons in the game, like a revolver, flamethrower, and even a nail gun (if you can find it). Like many other horror games, there isn’t a ton of ammunition to be found, so you’ll be taking down most of the enemies using a shank you find right at the beginning of the game. Only having a melee weapon can add some great tension to the game. Unfortunately this game is so easy it makes the shank a more than adequate weapon for almost every enemy. The best combat in the game comes from the boss battles. Any gamer from the 8-bit era is going to love them. Every enemy moves and attacks based on a pattern, that once learned, can be exploited. Some of the battles are epic, including the very best part of this game, the final boss fight. This battle is the only challenge you’ll find in the game and it leaves you wishing that the whole game could have been experienced at this level ('Shadow of Colossus' for DS anyone?).
I have a couple of other beefs with the game on top of it being way too easy. For me the DS is something that I play when I have a quick 10 or 15 minutes to wait for an appointment or on my lunch break at work. For this reason, I wish the save points were a little closer together or that the game saved after you cleared every room. Its a bummer to push through a huge section only to have to play it again because you had to turn off the DS and you didn’t reach a save point yet. This wasn’t a huge issue because of the low difficulty, but if this game was as tough as I want it to be, it would have been a real sore point. The game is also way too short. It took me only 4 and a half hours to clear it. Although there is a 'survival mode' that unlocks after you beat each chapter, this game just doesn’t give you a long lasting experience. There aren’t any hidden items or secrets to find either, which pretty much puts the chance I’ll replay the game again at zero. I’ll definitely hit up the survival mode once and a while, just because the controls feel so good, but there’s no point in playing through the story again.
'Dementium II' is a great step forward for the FPS genre on the DS. The controls are perfect and the graphics and framerate are spot on. If they could add a long and interesting story to that formula we’d have a real winner on our hands. As it stands, this game is just too easy and short, and the story is too boring to be considered a hit. However, if you’ve been dying to play an FPS game on the DS, it's worth a look. I’m really excited to see what 'Renegade Kid' is going to come up with next.
Gameplay:8.0, Graphics:7.0, Sound:5.0, Innovation:7.0, Mojo:7.0 Final: 6.8 / 10
Reviewed by Mike Baggley | 06.15.10