More Like War Crimes: Chariot Wars for PC
This game has broken me.
I've tried every possible angle of attack, from sarcastically framing it as the perfect game for the "offended set" to long pontifications on exactly why this game was made and managed to be released through Steam when it's clearly a quarter of a game. But in the end, I keep coming back to the person whose words have impacted my life far more than anyone's should have, especially his: Roger Ebert.
Ebert always started out his critical viewings by asking himself who the movie was for. If you're a genre film freak but hate the French New Wave, for example, you're going to consider The Dead Matter to be superior to Breathless*. If you're the kind of person who only sees movies if they're limited release, in subtitles, in black and white, and about the disintegration of a marriage, you are not the target audience for The Avengers, and your review is going to carry less weight with the people who might be interested in seeing the movie.
It's the same with games. While games are technically for everyone, intake is kind of specialized from person to person, and quality is kind of relative to what people enjoy. So when someone critiques a game, it's important to figure out who the audience of the game is, to kind of put yourself in their place and critique it so they know it's the best game for them. Or not, as the case may be.
Which brings us (finally) to Chariot Wars. As far as I can tell, this game is for people who hate themselves. I cannot fathom this game being for an actual audience other than the easily hoodwinked and gullible on Steam. The only way I can see this being bought by anyone is if they somehow accidentally clicked on it or got it for free from one of their enemies with no way to fob it off on some other poor bastard.
The graphics are bland. Not in the sense that they're drab or anything, but in the sense that they have made something interesting incredibly uninteresting. Due to the racing logic being based almost entirely on luck, you will see a lot of samey scenery with really no variation whatsoever. From the back of the pack. It's pretty clear they're using fairly basic backgrounds with a skybox, and I'm glad they found something that worked, but when the sky does not move and the backgrounds are kind of boring and somehow the backgrounds look like walls against the sky, it creates something I wouldn't want to take a relaxed drive around, let alone see in a racing game. Even in games where the vehicle sections mostly suck, at least they try to present interesting scenery to drive around in. This is not the case with Chariot Wars. In fact, it's surprising how limited everything is, since the load times from one screen to another are absolutely astronomical.
The character animations are similarly limited and boring. In fact, it looks like the characters are fresh out of a 3D modeling program and then barely animated-- they stand in the center of their chariots and flap their wrists in a lackluster manner. Combined with the slow movement of the chariots themselves and the bog-standard racing, it's ugly to look at, and not in the interesting way Pathologic is ugly to look at. It's plain, incredibly boring, and I'm actually a little insulted this was called a game.
Which brings me to the controls. Again, things are pretty standard. W makes you accelerate, S brakes, and A and D turn you left and right, respectively. As you roll around the track at a movement speed that would infuriate and offend most snails with its slowness, you can occasionally pick up boost coins that allow a small amount of speed. Of course, all of this is immediately lost when you hit another racer, as you don't just bounce off but go careening off into the side of the track and spin around backwards like collision detection forgot physics existed. While the game does warn against this, at the same time, you'd have thought that they'd at least made some attempt to fix this rather than claiming it as a feature.
And then there's the way the game will spontaneously switch into "tablet mode" at even the slightest provocation, switching the window size and making the controls stickier. Since the luck-based racing already makes everything difficult, suddenly switching the controls on the player for seemingly no reason is especially frustrating. Oh, and then there's the luck based racing. While you can accelerate and take corners and do all the things required of you in racing games, none of it really matters, as you will quickly be left in the dust and have to make your way around the track in the hopes that perhaps, just perhaps, you will finally catch up with someone.
In the end, the presence of games like Chariot Wars makes me wonder why people are insisting gaming's moved on as a medium. It makes me seriously doubt the need for artistic criticism as long as crap like this is being put out. This game has made me doubt the entire art form of games criticism. Do not give this any attention. This isn't worth it. Find something better do do with your time.
Score: 0 out of 5
Full disclosure: The reviewer received a free copy of this game for review
*For the record, just about any film is objectively superior to Breathless.