The War of the Worlds Review
Microsoft Xbox 360Also available on Sony PlayStation 3
My War with The War of the Worlds
By Edd Harwood
Narrated by Patrick Stewart
No one would have believed in the years following the second great war that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own. It had been over half a decade since one famous writer had foretold of this horrific invasion. At the time we all thought that his novel was pure science fiction. We thought the chances of anything coming from Mars were a million to one - but still they came...
Everything goes dark. Is this the end?
As I awoke, throwing the debris aside, I tried to remember how I had ended up there. I recalled travelling on the train from Bristol, when I saw the giant metal cylinders falling from the sky. They were heading for London, my destination.
As the train plummeted off the tracks I was knocked unconscious.
The first thing I realised, as I started to move from the train’s carcass, was just how awkward and rigid my movements were. Like a flashback from a bygone age, a tired Persian prince perhaps, I discovered that simple platforming actions such as climbing and running seemed to take an age. I knew this may be a hindrance in times to come.
The soothing dulcet tones of Patrick Stewart echoing in my head drove me onwards, out into the battered streets of London. The dark fiery background of the burning city tickled my braided memory, reminding me of the beginning of another adventure in my past. I pushed on. It did not take me long to understand that my plight in this world will not be filled with mystery and clever puzzles, but rather intense action that tested my reflexes to their limits, if not well beyond.
Death, as it turned out, was constant.
Even before I encountered any of these treacherous extraterrestrials, I found myself incessantly falling or burning, each time resulting in my untimely demise. When eventually I stumbled upon these aliens, death was never too far behind. I admit that sometimes these mistakes were of my own volition, far more often however painfully slow and clumsy movements, beyond my control, were to blame.
Fortunately a divine presence was always at hand, resurrecting me quickly usually not too far from where my body fell. However this god as it turned out, had a wicked sense of humour. At times he inexplicably placed me a great distance away. I remember the screams of misery as I found myself having to repeat large sections of my journey, like a hellish chore. Strangely and not without some mute desperation, Patrick Stewart’s once encouraging monologues became a mocking irritation as they repeated like an old broken record following each revival. Perhaps worse, if I ever needed to end my journey part way through, I would be dumped right back at the section’s start on returning. This became the bane of my existence later on in my adventure when sections could be longer than I had time to impart, or even worse I became trapped like a bug in invisible walls, leaving me with no option but to restart. Frustrated and confused, I ventured onwards.
I would look at the destruction around me and see something of a foreboding beauty to it all. The heavy lumbering martian monstrosities toppling London’s buildings on the horizon, smoke billowing out as they swept their heat rays across the streets. However the intense ferocity of the action around me, and the constant threat of death at my heels never let me stray for long enough to really take it all in. At times I found myself trapped within huge crowds of people, like trapped ants, all preying we would be avoided by the deathly machines vaporising us from above. However something felt wrong, these men seemed disconnected from reality. Each one passed like ghosts through each other with no sense of interaction, be it trying to desperately help each other or even trampling them in panic. I watched everyone around me fall and there was nothing I could do to help them. Maybe this was the point that our fickle creator was trying to make, but in truth I wished for some form of companionship, like those formed in the stories foretold by science fiction writers of the past. However, each person I managed to find kinship with simply stood like statues or worse instantly sprinted off to their inevitable death.
These Martians possessed an intellect vast and cool and unsympathetic, their weapons keenly designed to wipe us out without any form of regret. The black fog that spouted forth from their metallic machines filled buildings that I had taken refuge in. Fortunately our buildings, cunningly designed perhaps with this situation in mind, all had intricate venting systems. It seemed like this was going to be a taxing puzzle upon my mind, however as so often I found throughout my adventure, it was more a case of tedious trial and error than actual stretching of intelligence. More devious and deadly was the red weed that the aliens had sown upon the land. Thriving in the sewers, away from the sunlight that seemed to caused it to wither and die, It seemed to have some form of malevolent life force that enabled it to stretch its sinews towards me. I found myself ensnared in its leeching tendrils, the only way to escape was to awkwardly hack myself free. I remember finding some directional lights down in the darkness, and this created some interesting dilemmas. Light, as it turned out, not only stopped the spread of the tendrils, it also made them solid enough to stand on. Some of the most inventive and frightening parts of my journey were when trapped down in those dank sewers, fighting off the ever thriving red weeds.
Looking back on my journey, now the alien threat has passed, a few final comments and conclusions come to mind. I had hoped that I could have dwelled on the emotions that the situation was attempting to spring upon me for longer. Even Patrick Stewart’s theatrical narration, particularly as it was constantly repeated parrot fashion, failed to cause a stir on my heartstrings. I wished that my movements could have been more fluid and responsive, helping me rather than hindering. Just because the events occurred in the fifties, does not necessarily mean we should be sticking to designs and principles so anchored in the past. If an adventure is to be difficult, it should be because of clever and devious planning, like a meaty challenge, rather than caused by frustrating, archaic controls and baffling design. It is a crying shame, because the concept, the ideas and the artistic style could have all combined into a far more interesting and intense experience. However, in the end, this world does not need another useless and cumbersome war such as this.