Growing up I was obsessed with the Crash Test Dummies, really quite morbid if you think about it in context. Children watching characters that are designed to crash head first into walls to ensure the safety of vehicles is not something to imitate. Fast forward to 2009, kids are now watching much more politically correct cartoons, and the vapor trail of everyone’s favorite Dummies are nowhere to be found.
CID the Dummy is a spiritual successor to this franchise, and was originally conceived back in 2005 for the original Xbox by a completely different publisher. Oxygen Games has picked up the tab and finally delivered the game we have all been waiting for, or maybe not. The gameplay is archaic, the platforming can be a mess, and the overall premise just feels too familiar to be coincidence. Surprisingly I still had fun smashing poor CID’s head into wall after wall.
Let’s clear the air first; CID the Dummy is an action/platformer that consists of puzzles, some minor combat, and a of course traditional platforming mechanics. There is a story here, but it is mostly injected for filler. I mean the idea of a crash test dummy getting fed up with his job and wanting to obtain more out of life is just plain ridiculous. Couple it with the idea that he becomes a half-assed Sam Fisher complete with gadgets and a plot to save someone’s daughter and you have a laughable scenario that will likely not interest most gamers.
The gameplay itself is not terrible, in fact when it isn’t trying to solve complex geometry and let the player engage in meaningful bouts of mortal combat, it works rather well. The problems persist when the game tries to be more multifaceted than it really should be. For example jumping is a simple mechanic, one that continues to be a stumbling point for some developers. CID jumps just fine when it doesn’t matter, he leaps from simple areas without much hesitation. However, when things get hairy his jumping precision really shines through. You will miss easy leaps because of poor mechanics more often than not. This becomes frustrating as the game really makes a point to introduce platforming puzzles often.
Combat is equally guilty of such travesties, mostly due to the awkward perspective the game opts to play from. It reminds me of sort of a quarter view in some areas, while the depth of field is nearly impossible to adjust to regardless of where you are. CID can perform melee attacks as well as wield weapons, but you will waste ammo over and over again as you can never tell if your enemy is directly in front of you, or just a tad to the side. It is one of those videogame moments where you just wish the game supported a lock-on function, or had just remained entirely two dimensional altogether.
CID is also not for the faint of heart. The levels are challenging, and mostly not due to their multifarious design. The checkpoint system is unforgiving and if you run out of lives it means having to start the level over. I found myself frustrated time and time again attempting to complete the levels, I cannot imagine what a younger gamer with the patience of a poodle on speed would think. I can see them getting two levels in, having to retry over and over, and simply tossing this one into the junk pile. It is sad really, the premise is good and the ideas are there, it just goes to show that broken mechanics can really drag down the overall appeal of the game.
The visuals are good enough, and in some cases look surprisingly good. CID has plenty of animations, and running him into the wall repeatedly became a constant source of entertainment for me. The levels are nicely designed, but the awkward camera really hurts the overall package. Too many times am I finding myself struggling to get a good view of the action, and more often than not dying because I can’t. The sound is generic techno mixed with some lackluster voice work. The main character sounds ridiculous and his mentor even worse. The soundtrack screams uninspiring and repeats the same beats time and time again.
CID the Dummy is a game that will intrigue you from the concept, and even the first few levels are tolerable enough to convince you that you made a wise purchase decision. After struggling with the perspective and the constant restarting of levels you will quickly realize that this game has some serious hang-ups. I really wanted to like CID, his character brings back memories of when cartoons were allowed to be politically incorrect and dangerous, but his game is just too broken to recommend.