Confusing, Frustrating, and Not Fun
Xotic is an unorganized mess of a FPS puzzle game that is marred with lame gunplay, confusing level design, insulting game mechanics wrapped in a perplexing plotline.
From what I can make of the poorly presented storyline, Xotic takes a note from Halo‘s parasitic Flood; the ultimate goal is to stop the Orb which can suck the life out of everything. This Orb-exterminating concept is tied directly into the gameplay. Besides shooting Orb possessed enemy AI alien bug creatures, the other main gameplay objective is to shoot stationary pods that are randomly glued throughout each environment. Unfortunately, there are so many problems with the gunplay it is hard to find a place to start.
First, the control scheme is unlike any other FPS. While this new concept can be seen as refreshing, it most definitely is not. Who wants to jump by tapping a bumper? Why can’t I aim down my iron sights? What is the point of pushing in the right thumb stick to make a magical platform appear under my feet; wouldn’t it be better to incorporate a double or triple jump? But even if the control scheme didn’t tangle brains and reflexes, the gameplay is just stupidly confusing.
I just want to make one thing clear; the biggest concept behind Xotic is shooting stationary environmental pimple things that explode and release collectable colored orbs that don’t really seem to do anything. Again, THE PURPOSE OF THE GAME IS TO SHOOT STATIONARY OBJECTS! This really defies the very concept of a video game. Why the hell would anyone want to simply walk through a level and shoot at stationary and defenseless objects? The game tries to spice up this bland gameplay idea by encouraging the destruction of multiple pimples in succession to increase score. This is just as lame as it sounds.
Further, the shooting mechanics are not exactly what one would call smooth or accurate. Even though the vast majority of targets in the game are the stationary, the player will still have difficulty lining up a shot due to inaccuracy, the strange controller layout, and the lack of iron sights and lock-on feature.
Enemy AI is also frustrating. These alien bug things often blend into the game’s environments and can nail you from across the stage. And because there is no radar, there is no indication of where the danger is coming from. Further, these enemies react in the dumbest and most predictable ways. When the player walks near, the enemy back pedals. When the player stops, the enemy stops. In comparison, some of the earliest N64 FPS’s had better AI behaviors.
Like playing on a strange planet from the Metroid Prime series, the landscape is often colorful and exotic. But inconsistencies in the environment will further confuse the player as some objects are interactive and some are not. The lack of a map or radar system also makes it easy to lose direction. And like Bane’s dialog in the latest Batman trailer, it is difficult to understand what is being said during the game’s few speaking points. Also, there really isn’t much in terms of soundtrack, the game locked up on me twice during my first play through and there is an annoying scan for Achievements at every menu selection.
The game’s only saving grace is the minor RPG-like upgrading system. Once enough XP has been collected, new abilities and gun perks can be unlocked. But thanks again to the confusing control scheme, Switching between guns is more troublesome than it is worth.
Xotic’s bigger 2gb download size and $10 price point do not help offset any of the game’s flaws either. There are so many things wrong with Xotic it is difficult to find anything positive. I am sure this small development studio meant well, but wound up over thinking and over engineering this game; just looking at the game’s options menu is intimidating. This was one of 2011’s worst XBLA titles.
Worse Than: just about every other XBLA release in 2011
Also Try: Greg Hastings’ Tournament Paintball Max’d (GBA)
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