Ok, my fellow gamers – I have a new question to ask you. Who (besides myself, obviously) has had a case of deja vu, especially if it’s of an unbelievable, surprising game that you haven’t played in ages? Enter “Marlow Briggs” for the XBox 360, an excellent entry from Zootfly and 505 Games that pays a very nice homage to a certain war god.
MB is a masterpiece that’s chock full of over-the-top action that seamlessly blends in with cinematic gameplay. You are Marlow Briggs, a no-nonsense sacred warrior of sorts that is on the trail of rescuing his girlfriend from the clutches of industrial evil in Central America – after having been impaled by a staff and then brought back to life with incredible power, by an ancient Mayan Death Mask that hasn’t spoken to anyone in over 2000 years. Sure, the background story might sound a little on the cheesy side, but the ensuing action more than makes up for that.
If MB happens to remind you of a particular game as you play, then chances are you’ve played said game at least once. In all of its action and adventure glory, MB delivers an excellent nod to “God Of War” of Sony PlayStation fame. While it may not be an exact clone, it’s certainly very recognizable to fans of GOW or to anyone who’s at least somewhat familiar with the series.
You begin the game with the same staff that had once put you out of your own misery, and later on you get to acquire new weapons to add to your arsenal. As you defeat the bad guys during your girlfriend-saving quest, you earn experience points that can later be used to upgrade your powers and magic that unlock as your progress further into the game. But don’t think that this is just a beat-’em-up brawlfest here, though, as there are also puzzles to solve while on your travels – not to mention treading carefully while traversing through tricky areas that require precise jumping and timing (can we say thank god for unlimited continues here? I think we can).
The best I can describe the graphics in MB is that it’s truly a cinematic experience, to the point where you really feel that you’re playing some Hollywood blockbuster movie. The transition between action and cinema (and vice-versa) is nearly flawless and it reminded me of how well “Final Fantasy VII” applied that same technique so very well in the days of old. So when you’re not busy taking down some enemies or figuring out some puzzle, truly do yourself a favor and take in the awesome sights.
For sound, there’s plenty there to keep your eardrums busy. I’m normally a big fan of background music, but for a game like MB, why worry about tunes when there are thundering explosions galore? And to make sure that things don’t go completely quiet, Marlow’s mask will either be giving you some helpful gameplay tips or there will even be some humorous banter between Marlow and the mask at times.
The controls here are indeed simple enough as well, making the game a cinch to pick up and play. And if I didn’t know any better, I’d swear that the control scheme page was taken out of GOW’s manual. I definitely liked how the controller was fully utilized for the necessary moves, without being forced to remember which button performed which function.
So now what about the overall gameplay? For any gamer who has played GOW at least once, they will recognize the similarities right away, minus some obvious differences. The combat system comes complete with sickening combos, but without the gore (sorry, bloodbath lovin’ fans) and there’s enough variety to keep you from getting bored. As you delve deeper and deeper in the game, you can eventually unlock 8 time attack challenges once you complete the original challenges in campaign mode. To help along with your progress, checkpoints and health refilling opportunities are frequent, continues are unlimited, and you can save anywhere.
As far as any issues go, I only picked up on two or three that were minimal at best. I noticed in some cinema moments where there were some hiccups in the graphics — nothing serious, but still noticeable. As simplistic as the controls were, it would’ve been nice to also be able to adjust the camera’s angle (I’m not a huge fan of a constant fixed angle or an angle that doesn’t give you the best point-of-view). I also thought the whole talking mask thing could’ve been done away with or at least cut back some; the humor and Marlow/Mask banter quickly gets old.
With a few minor flaws aside, MB still deserves accolades for being such the excellent game all the way around, and I think Kratos would agree right along with me.
Platform: XBox 360
Publisher: 505 Games
ESRB: M (Mature)
|Love the cinematic visuals throughout; extremely well done here.|
|A feast on the ol' eardrums without being overbearing or annoying.|
|It's not every day that I get to play a movie-style kind of game. Excellent.|
|A girlfriend-saving thrill ride, complete with the GOW nod. Very awesome.|