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Reviewed: KISS Psycho Circus: The Nightmare Child
Author: Chris Kim       Date: September 13th, 2000
Page: 2

What? A game based on the 80's rock band Kiss? Must sound very interesting and look even more ridiculous if you were to see the box and the game, which for the most is correct, the game itself is very twisted and set in an odd world. The game is based on Todd McFarlane's comic book Kiss Psycho Circus, which I have actually never read or ever seen for that fact. Supposedly, it places the Kiss band members in another parallel universe and each member must fight their way through the twisted lands. Having never read one of these comics, would playing a game based on such a topic hold an interest for a non-reader such as myself?

From the technological standpoint, KISS Psycho Circus: The Nightmare Child is based upon an enhanced version 1.5 of Monolith's LithTech-engine, which most recently appeared in their own Blood II: The Chosen. One thing to keep in mind about Third Law Interactive, the developers of the game, is that they are former... you guessed it, ION Storm employees which branched off to form their own little company after the distraught and miserable turn-out of Daikatana. Now, on their own, they've released their first monster.

What the?
Cool Haze
Aim it...

In a nutshell, KISS Psycho Circus: The Nightmare Child, is a first-person shooter that goes back to the roots of classic first-person shooters. It involves going around, flipping switches, opening doors, progressing further in the level, and defeating enemies and bosses on the way. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but in this day and age of classic titles as Half-Life and System Shock 2, it simply doesn't beat the depth and immersion that those titles impose upon the player. Most levels are divided into subsections, which are then subsequently connected together by certain objectives to receive a certain artifact that is necessary to defeating the game. Sounds like a key hunt, doesn't it?

One of the things that KISS Psycho Circus: The Nightmare Child has going for it is the astounding atmosphere. It makes the world come alive with quite impressive architecture and creepy looking monsters. One of the more notable pieces of the architecture is how the environments are varied and different. Not one area really resembles another and the construction of the levels really uses height to immerse the player. Unlike many recent first-person shooters, KISS Psycho Circus: The Nightmare Child really uses all three dimensions and forces the player to attack in all directions.

Fancy Lighting
Broken Arms?
Evil Rush

Level design is very straightforward and simple, with some of the most linear and easily navigable levels seen in a first-person shooter. There is almost no question as to where the player will need to go and what he will need to do as the story teller type screen before each task guides the player to where he must go and how to accomplish it. The level design ultimately keeps the game interesting and the player wanting to come back for more. Even in the twisted world of Psycho Circus, everything seems logical and seems to follow a set path as to how and where everything should be located.

Weapon design, however, is one of the biggest flaws in the game. The problem lies with how horribly unbalanced the weapons are. There are a few weapons that are universal for all four characters, and then each of the characters has their unique ultimate and melee weapon. The problem is that certain weapons take way too long to load and all of the weapons lack firepower. All of them are severely underpowered making fighting often very difficult and taxing. The whip is a nice addition as it allows for players to traverse themselves across ledges, but the accuracy needed to use some of the weapons is ridiculous.

Claw it Up!
Stupid Things
Bouncy Enemies

Just as important as the weapons are the enemies. For the most part, the twisted Psycho Circus world does a good job at creating some of the weirdest enemies. There are a lot of interesting enemies that are a lot of fun to watch and fight, but the problem is that the player will be exposed to almost only three different enemies. These enemies will come out over and over again. This is due to an odd respawning scheme were enemies will return to the battle after being slain, and with such limited ammo in the game, the player will often have to revert to melee combat, which often just does not suffice.

Ultimately, though, is the game any fun? Despite all the flaws, the game tends to be fun and interesting to play just because of the fast and furious action the game puts the player through. If the oversight of unbalanced weapons and evil monsters that respawn, there is fun to be had here with interesting level design, cool looking and designed monsters, and the full three-dimensions are put to work.

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Added:  Wednesday, September 13, 2000
Reviewer:  Chris Kim
Page: 2/5

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