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El Matador hands-on

The confined areas didn't give them the opportunity to flank us - they'd just pop out from behind cover repeatedly and predictably again and again until we shot them to death. It became obvious early on that the levels were designed to hide the painfully brainless enemy AI.

Upping the difficulty mode didn't improve their smarts, but instead just made the bullets sting a lot more. These hardened criminals wouldn't even budge if we landed a grenade at their feet. If nothing else, El Matador is a quaint look backwards at how enemies behaved before the advent of the tactically insane-o troops of Far Cry, FEAR or Half-Life (yeah, the original ). Unfortunately, we're very close to the game's release date, so we've little hope of anyone heading to smart school before the game gets boxed.



We're also concerned about the levels. No matter how gloriously expansive each one looked at first glance, the game repeatedly funnels the action down into a single path. This isn't anything new in game design, but we just wish that we weren't teased with what seemed like wide-open, multiple route levels - they aren't.

If we felt saucy, we'd burst out from cover with a shift-key slow-motion shoot-dodge sideways, forwards and yes, even the signature Max Payne/John Woo falling-backwards-double-pistol-fusillade. The aiming system is slightly improved from Max 's single dot: a weapon-specific reticule instead appears in the center of the screen - with a larger spread when using shotguns, for example - visually cluing us to which type of weapon we were using on the fly.

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