When a designer puts his name on a game, especially before the title, it could be one of two things. Either the game is the best thing that could ever come out of the mind of the designer and they're willing to stake everything he is on it, or it's a complete flop and the only thing that's going to move those boxes is to put their name on it. And the worst thing is when both are the case.

Daikatana was supposed to be the biggest and best thing IONStorm and Romero made. Ever. Well as far as production costs go, that still remains to be the case. Now, I'm not sure how many people actually know just what happened, and I for one haven't the slightest. In any event, Daikatana was a flop and Romero, he of Quake and Hexen fame faded into obscurity. Whatever it was, it never really deserved the constant bagging we (webcomics) seem to give it. It wasn't the best game in existence, but it certainly didn't deserve all of this bad press. Of course, that in no way, is going to stop me from picking it to pieces.

For a game where so much money was invested into it's genesis, Daikatana smacks of Beta. The way it plays feels off. The guns aren't tuned right, the gameplay feels unnaturally fast and the life turnover and killing fields designed expressly for the computer leads me to believe this was a game that was created to give the computer an unfair advantage. That, or Romero thought it would be funny to make a game where the PC dies every twenty seconds, and has very limited save opportunities.


So here I was alive-  

-then I died!      

Then I died again   

I'm getting the hang 
of this        

This is the second   
best part and...    

This is the best    

The graphics, which were supposed to run off an advanced version of the Quake II engine, are by and large ugly. The whole appearance of the cast is grotesque - something out of a B-Grade horror movie where each and every character is the cumbersome monster in the hideous rubber suit. The textures... Oh God the textures... the structures were decorated by someone having a stroke. Mismatched panels and haphazard mingling of colours makes for very unattractive level designs. The gun models resemble something a four year old made out of plasticine, in several stages of digestion. Then there was having to up all of the lighting effects to maximum just to be able to see. All in all, not visually pleasing.

The sound is rather uninspiring as well. Hiro, the Japanese protagonist sounds like any American schmo. The workers for Mr. Big Bad Guy are a cheesy faux Japanese that brings tears to my eyes. The rest of the cast couldn't talk their way out of a paper bag. The weapons don't sound too bad, but the ricochet noises are atrocious, especially when the Ion Cannon plays off a mud floor to some sort of high metallic ring. Either swamps are a lot more solid these days, or someone got lazy. Worst of all is the sound you get when an item is unable to be "Used" (Enter). Hiro makes a noise I would liken to someone passing a stone, or releasing acres of gas from their behind. As for the background music. Except for barely ever hearing it, the twang of the harp just didn't match the pace of the game: far too slow for an over-fast game.

And what a plot! Some old guy makes a magic sword that allows him to travel through time! Wow... now, because of nothing less than a family bitchwhack, the sword's smith's descendant has to drop everything to rescue the world. Sure, there's the normal static Big Bad Guy with Big Bad Corporation, and of course, there's a woman involved. So Hiro, the Hero, had to travel though time to right the wrongs the evil guy abused the sword to make happen. Oh: did I mention that the sword is the Daikatana? So-o... that's about it. Big plot, eh? Not much there. Cellophane thin. Not much for the greatest game ever...

Gameplay! Now there's a topic that makes this game happen. The game ran at almost a gallop, even taxing my system slightly when the polygon count rose up. So we've got a fast, laggy game. Add to that that the enemies do quite a severe amount of damage. That's a fast, laggy, painful game. Add to that the constant dying: a fast, laggy, painfully annoying game. Furthermore, the PC weapons aren't exactly suited to fighting... maybe painting a house, but not shooting things that shoot back. Oh: and forget about getting the first shot, unless you crawl through the level and the gun doesn't explode in your face. Being held together barely by the fact you don't just fall through the ground, there's the XP system! It's required that you kill everything to scrape together the experience to be able buy some stats, or you may's well be spitting at your enemies. Sure, using your allies smartly once you get them can carry you through some of the more tight spots, but they also get in the way and pepper your back with bullets. Hell... there's all that and more. Just talking about it really just digs an even bigger hole.

I was going to review multiplayer, but get this... no one wanted to play it with me!

OK. I'm trying to think of good points for the game, but the only good point I experienced was when I quit the game. Even then though, you're treated to that wonderful wit that actually attempts to challenge your resolve and honour by insulting you, so there's no peace. Not even in leaving. But leave I did.

In closing, this game physically maimed me. The stress it took just to make it to the next save alive was compounded by losing progress just by starting a new game because of the "Last Map Change" save, and even crashing my computer when I attempted to collect screenshots of the damn thing. It was one bundle of bad, served hot, with a side of Romero. I think I'll resume the foetal position and rock back and forth, mumbling nothings to nobody.

because it's a game

blancmange Copyright '02-'03 Chris Schlatter and Mark Stoffels. All Rights Reserved.