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Hydrophobia [video game, review] - Elf M. Sternberg
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Hydrophobia [video game, review]
One of the great disappointments of any video game is realizing just how great it could have been, if only the producers hadn't missed something, or had tested it better, or hadn't in some way screwed up badly in the implementation. Hydrophobia was one of those games that hit two of my big buttons, hard: one, it was set in a water trap without any promise of relief, and two, it had a female protagonist. Female protagonists in action-adventure games, either as first or third-person shooters, are few and far between, and when done well are rare and precious. I'm sick of gruff men with either a penis substitute in their hand or daddy issues in their hearts.

Kate is a systems engineer, someone who spends most of her time running cable for various computer systems, on board a massive ocean-going citystate vessel that is one of the great technological refuges from a vast ecological disaster coupled with a population bomb. The city state suffers a massive internal bombing attack followed by terrorist cells emerging and starting to massacre the inhabitants of the floating city. Kate was heading down into the deeper part of the ship to investigate a networking issue when the attack came: she has adventures getting past the villains and various environmental issues: fire, drowning, flooding, even ice.

Water is the main problem here, and it's so well done that I want to curse everything else wrong with it: the terrible, arbitrary controls. The poorly timed cut scenes. The voice actor for Scooter, Kate's boss, who sounds like he'd rather be jerking off than doing this job. Kate has to wade through it, swim through it, run through pouring torrents of it that batter her as she makes for the exit, is swallowed by the roaring flood and ultimately has to struggle for air. But as this game was a port of an X-Box console game, the controls do indeed suck. The cut scenes are too often, too as-you-know-Bob, and interrupt the flow of the game.

I really wanted to like Hydrophobia, and I'll probably finish it. Like I said, I adore good women protagonists. It's flaws are not the same as another recent B-title I played, Section 8, which had almost no story to tell. It has a story. It might even be an interesting story. But dealing with it is like reading a book where all the vowels are pͬ̂̎o̷ͯͪͥͫͤ͞õ͋̌ͣͥ̂ͧ̓͛r̴̶̒̄̐ͣͪl̶̛̉͌ͭ̓̎ỳ̧̛ͭ ̾̓̓ͧ͑͒҉̸p̷̽ͭͫr̸̵ͫ͑̏̌̍̍͝i͐̊̾͌͑̾ͣ͌n͋̏̊̾͆ͤ͋tͦ͊̇̐ͬ̌̀͟eͯͭ͛́͘͏d̴̃; if there's a story there, you're going through a heck of a lot of extra work to enjoy it.

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Current Mood: annoyed annoyed

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