Since H.G. Wells first penned the 1898 novel, The War of the Worlds, there have been a wide variety of adaptations, including a radio program that actually made the world believe we were being invaded by life from another planet. A new War of the Worlds game is now available in video game form on the XBLA. In this version, the game manages to both take its own path and stay true to the book. The story stays the same (aliens taking over Earth) as does the time frame (1950’s) but the entire action takes place in London.
The first thing I thought when I noticed this game was that it was going to be a side-scrolling action/shooter kind of game. Well, I was right about the side-scrolling. The game is a pure platformer. There’s no attacking the invaders, as you are charged with the task of avoiding the tri-pods and other aliens so you can rescue your family.This task can get rather difficult.
Not only do you have to avoid the searchlights and death rays, but you also have to avoid environmental obstacles, like downed power lines, which will cause instant death. With the look of the game being dark to give you a good sense of the destruction, you have to really be on the lookout and watch your step. If you miss a crucial jump, you could very well find yourself in a pit of fire.
Besides the gray-destroyed look of the game, the things that really stand out are the music and the narrative. The music is superb and does a good job of setting the tone of the game. The narration is the best part of the game, as the wonderful story is told by the great Patrick Stewart.
The gameplay is as simple as it can be; walk or run to avoid obstacles and hide from alien searchlights. This is handled with just two buttons: the A and X button with the left stick to move, of course. But, like most platform games, the obstacles can be unforgiving. You must time your jumps perfectly, or you will find yourself electrocuted or hugged to death by a pesky alien.
For me, I found it hard to get the timing of jumps down to a science. There are times I couldn’t take my time and plan ahead and look where one ledge ends and the other begins. So, needless to say, I died. A lot. But, after cursing under my breath and sometimes out loud, I was compelled to suck it up and continue because the game completely got me hooked.
Being a fan of the aliens-taking-over-the-world genre, I went into War of the Worlds expecting a run and gun, kick some alien butt game, so I was pleasantly surprised to find out that this was a platformer. With the exceptions of not being able to get the jump timing down and a few unforgiving obstacles, I really enjoyed this game. With the amazing dark look, the awesome soundtrack and the superb narration by Patrick Stewart, War of the Worlds is one of the best XBLA games I have played in a while. And, for only 800 MS points, you would be silly to pass up this gem.
Review copy provided by publisher.