Okay, can we talk about how stupid the “Ready to start” feature on Xbox One is?
Here, I thought I could get ahead of the curve and pre-download this before it’s official release, since my internet is the equivalent of a crank-up dial-up machine. As the game’s launch arrived, I had most of it downloaded (92% for reference.) and it was “Ready to start”. Excited, I booted the bad boy up and attempted to play through it, only to be halted by another progress bar, this one being at “17%”.
Really? Why? What’s the point of this? Don’t tell me I’m getting a snack and then throw the thing in the trash. You could consider that it’s just loading up some extra things, but why say it’s “ready to start” then if there’s other factors stopping me from continuing? Absurd. Absolutely absurd. Anyway, here’s Get Even, a game deeper than Christopher Nolan.
This title here comes to us from The Farm 51, a Polish developer whose work is small but strong, with the main highlight being the superb sequel and remake of the FPS Painkiller, Painkiller: Hell & Damnation. All other titles have ranged from average horror NecrovisioN, to the painfully dull Deadfall Adventures. So, where does Get Even fall on the spectrum?
A quick plot rundown, you are Cole Black, gun-for-hire and chaotic neutral killer, rampaging through Britain’s dirtiest, rundown buildings in order to search for a woman kidnapped by mercenaries for some unknown endgame. As you progress though, you’ll see that the endgame doesn’t really matter, as an unknown assailant, known only as “Red” has kidnapped you in turn, in order to find out the truth of what really went down.
Right at the start, Red has slapped a device on your head that’s able to take you back into memories of your life. In Black’s case, it’s the events that set the kidnapping of the woman into motion, but as you go deeper with your bootleg Nokia, and ties are uncovered, you begin to wonder just how deep you really are in this and you start to contemplate what is and is not real.
Get Even sells itself as a “Psychological thriller / horror” and I’m not entirely sure it buys me on that statement. Early on in the game, the booming industrial soundtrack and intensity of the situations at hand try and sell it as one. But as time goes on, and you push further into the games set pieces, it does no more than provoke a small “huh.” and on you move to the next plot point. The gameplay is good though, I’ll give it that.
One gimmick of Get Even is the CornerGun, a prototype piece of equipment used by Black that allows you to stay stealthy and feel like a badass as you take down your foes. One quick click of a button and you’ve got everything in your sights without being in the line of fire. It’s a neat concept that I personally haven’t seen in a video game before, but unfortunately it’s not used as much as I’d hoped, and with good reason.
See, the game encourages stealth most of the time. Black, despite being a brute of a man, can be taken down very easily if you make the wrong move. Hell, the game flat out tells you to be discreet. The only issue with that is the level design doesn’t agree with you. Most paths to your objectives are absolutely littered with enemies. In some cases, they are blocking the door you need to progress through with no way to dispose of them, so inevitably bullets will fly.
The game harps on you for this often, and it’s annoying, because with the gun play being so bulky, I did want to be a ninja through the courses set for me. But no, the AI will always spot you in the eternal darkness and scold you for not being subtle. This could be a result of poorly constructed level designs, but without just not existing entirely it is difficult to proceed through the obstacle courses.
Other than that, the title also includes one of those “choices have consequences” mechanics, which I don’t mind, but only impacted my decisions massively in two situations. I’m sure there were other moments where I didn’t do the right thing, but in the end most of the choices must have been as trivial as “Do you want chicken or beef for dinner tonight, dear?”
The environmental design also gets a “no” from me. Despite the game being graphically fine for the most part, almost all of the levels are locations that are ripped straight from an episode of Ross Kemp on Gangs. Graffiti-littered warehouses and condemned housing is the flavor of the day and for the most part, you might get lost due to the repeating textures. But that’s not the main focus here, for where this game shines is it’s characters and overall story.
If there needed to be evidence as to how important voice actors were to games, then this is it right here. What could’ve turned into a more of a cringe than Bioshock instead turns into a play through filled with conviction, the main stars being Red and Black themselves. The verbal battles between them are filled with so much passion and anger that it’s like you’re in Manchester, listening to the two drunks behind you fight over who spilled who’s pint of lager.
If I had to pick a favorite though, it’d be Red. Without spoilers, later on in the game as you uncover his backstory, you see he’s more broken of a man than what he lets on, and in the last hour or so, his line reading becomes so emotional, you just want to reach into the screen and let him know he’ll be okay. Red makes the experience worthwhile and it’s great that The Farm 51 have made such a story driven game and put effort into what matters.
So, in summary, Get Even is great for the exact same reasons Spec Ops: The Line was great. In fact, they’re almost parallel to each other. Bog standard gameplay brought up into the spotlight by their brilliant stories and characters. I won’t be surprised if Get Even ends up on several Game of The Year lists because it deserves it. If you want a story-centric shooter filled with memorable characters and a satisfying payoff, should you choose it, get Get Even. Wait a minute…
This review of Get Even is based on the Xbox One version of the game.
A smart, slick and deeply intriguing shooter disguising itself as a standard shooter with a fantastic story and characters added to the mix.
Owner of the largest collection of indie games in the Western Hemisphere, and TimeSplitters’ biggest fanboy.