Way of the Warrior: a review by Andrewf Fenic

Text by Andrewf Fenic <afenic@delphi.com>

NOTE from Michel Buffa (author of the html translation of the WOTW pages and maintainer of this site): Andrew changed his mind a few days later. Read this document until the end!

Graphics: 5/10

This game should not have been released in this form. The character animations are truly poor with great choppiness and visible jaggedies at the edges (like old movies that used blue screen before the technique was perfected). The backgrounds range from boring to ugly to downright annoying. The only area I really liked was the lava room. All of the visuals have an amateurish look to them - it is as if the programmers digitized themselves rather than hire professional actors and actresses to play the part of the fighters. Very tacky and quite cheesy. Mortal Kombat II is quite literally an order of magnitude more attractive visually with glass smooth professionally acted character animations. The Dragon is just a joke in this game. Someone said he looks like a skinny 15 year old with an ego problem. I agree!!

Sound Effects: 3/10

Exceptionally poor. The voices that come up during combat are the worst I have heard in a 3DO game. As with Super Wing Commander, one gets the impression that the programmers did the voices themselves rather than hire professional actors. The rest of the sounds are generally quite boring.

Music: 7/10

White Zombie fits the game fairly well. Nonetheless I could just as easily play any of my music CD's as backround music - hence the "CD spooled" music really isn't that big of a deal. I much prefer Tempest 2000's soundtrack as it was originally composed to fit the game whereas ND clearly found a heavy metal band at the last minute and simply slapped parts of their album onto the CD.

Gameplay: 5/10

A very average fighting engine with some annoying problems. If, for example, I knock an opponent down and then breath a fireball with Shakey Jake that opponent can stand up in the middle of it, take no damage, and pull a move on me. That is just stupid! The AI seems great at first but after a few days practice I found it was something of a joke at a level setting. As expected, they simply have the computer instantly execute its full arsenal of moves at close range. This overwhelms the novice player but is fairly easy for an expert to deal with. Beyond the speed at which the computer can execute combos, however, the AI really is fairly poor. Obviously setting the computer to "Heavy advantage" makes things really hard but that has zero to do with the quality of the AI. Rather, the computer simply gets an unfair advantage.

The zoom-in/zoom-out is annoying and useless - a cute effect to show off the rendered backgrounds that serves only as an annoynace during the game. The bouncy jumping of the characters is also just ridiculous - it seems like I am fighting on a trampoline and really takes away from any sense of realism the designers were trying to build into the game. This, coupled with the choppy animations, produces a game that looks and in many cases plays more poorly than the worst SNES/Genesis fighters.

In short, I agree 100% with EGM's assessment. From what I read the version they had to review may have been better than the dog that finally got released.

This is too bad as I was looking forward to this title but it is to be expected that occasionally an over-hyped title is going to fall flat on its behind. What shocks me is how far some 3DO owners will go to enjoy a game just because it is a big overhyped title. If this had been released on the SNES we would all be mocking it and talking about how much better Street Fighter or Samuri Showdown on the 3DO would be.

Does look like Naughty Dog has potential though. For a first effort I suppose this isn't so bad - a larger play test base would have helped. Mr Liu clearly missed a whole freight train load of problems with this game! (sorry David but in general I don't think it is appropriate for someone on the payroll of a game company to run around hyping a title before it is released under the cover of "beta tester". Your defensiveness after the release is also a bit disturbing. If large portions of your audience dislike a game it i not the fault of the public for being stupid. One should not have to play a game for weeks to enjoy it - great games like many of the more popular arcade fighters suck you in immediately and don't let you go.

Fortunately this doesn't detract much from 3DO's momentum. There is still a ton of awesome stuff coming out before Christmas and Road Rash is just awesome!

A few days later Andrew changes his opinion!

Hehe after seeing Shadow Warrior I'm likely going to up my review of WOTW big time! I think I was just expecting WOTW to be perfect arcade quality and had forgotten how crappy the average console gaming experience really was.

After dragging the SNES out of the closet and playing its various poor excuses for a fighting game I'm really vastly more impressed with what Naughty Dog has accomplished.

And even the arcade machines don't have White Zombie :)

PS: If you want to see a lousy number of frames of animation play Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter on the SNES. WOTW looks smooth as freshly blown glass after those dogs and plays a heck of a lot nicer as well.

Now if I could just figure out why I rated WOTW so poorly. (sigh) I suppose the greater sense of realism suspends one's disbelief so much more than the average fighter that one's expectations are raised to the point where everything in Way must be perfect whereas it is much easier to accept the continous and gross limitations of the cartooney SFII or graphically handicapped Mortal Kombat.

Regardless I apologize to the ND team for my low marks. I've now found the Way to some extent and think the game deserves at least a 75/100 rating.. perhaps a tad bit higher.

<Those shadows are amazing! If only the characters were mapped polygons...>

------- Andrew Fenic