Last week Kotaku brought you word of The Legend of Alfur, a Japanese-made first person shooter, developed by a small indy game studio using the Unreal Engine. With Japanese-made FPS titles being something of a rarity -- especially compared to how many are developed in the West -- this seemed the perfect game to check out in more detail. Hoping I had found a diamond in the rough, I went into The Legend of Alfur cautiously optimistic. Sadly, it only took me a few minutes to find out that The Legend of Alfur isn't very good.
Despite the constant screen tearing, the game started well enough. Leon and his older sister, Shalnawaz are out hunting deer when suddenly they spot a pillar of smoke rising from their village. But before they can get there, they are surrounded by soldiers, packed into a truck, and taken far into the neighbouring nation. Yet all is not as it seems. During a pit stop, they overhear the commanding officer and his second in command arguing. Suddenly, there's a gunshot, a handgun tossed into the truck at their feet, and the second in command yelling that "the prisoners" just killed the commander. Framed for the officer's murder, Leon and Shalnawaz must escape and travel on foot across the enemy nation to return home -- all while being hunted by the true murderer and his legion of angry soldiers.
As far as first person shooter plots go, that's a pretty decent setup. It explains the conflict, defines the character motivations, and even has voice acting that really sells the story. From the opening on, though, it goes downhill. The story from that point is told by showing the nation's map while the enemies' character portraits pop up to give exposition through speech bubbles. It's still fully voice acted and somewhat interesting, but with almost no visual component, it's much harder to get in to.
While the story has at least a few good things that can be said about it, there is nothing good to say about the actual gameplay. It is simply terrible. Basic movement is hindered by constant clipping errors that get you stuck on what appear to be flat surfaces, and crouching has almost zero effect other than to slow you down.
Worst of all for an FPS, the iron sight aiming mechanic is flat-out broken. When trying to aim down the sights, the gun blocks almost the entire screen. Even if you do line up an enemy through the sights, it won't hit him as the actual gun model is misaligned with the actual
targeting reticle. The only gun not affected by this error is the sniper rifle; so expect to be sniping for the entire game or shooting inaccurately from the hip.
As there are two protagonists in this game, you are able to play as either while the computer handles the other. It is probably no surprise at this point that the AI, too, is terrible. Your partner AI is suicidally gung-ho to a fault; and while your sibling has a ton of HP, should he or she die, it's game over. You're only control option is to call your partner to your location. However, once your partner reaches your location, he or she will immediately turn around and charge the nearest enemy. The enemy AI acts exactly the same way -- when it's not glitching out completely. So should you get too close, mass amounts of soldiers will charge and overwhelm you. You simply can't reload fast enough to kill them all. Basically the only way to make it through the game is to stand back, snipe, and let your sibling be bait for the mass of completely identical soldiers.
While it's true that The Legend of Alfur is a PC budget title (retails for about $US15 US), it isn't even worth that much. I understand that indy studios have limited resources, but this is currently on par with an alpha test version, not a version ready for retail. And while there is a core here that would make for an exciting FPS title, the game is just this side of un-playable as it stands now.