You down with E.O.E? No, not really.
Ah, the Free Market. Champion of American society. That is, until duplicitous megalomaniacal companies decide to make us into zombies, build gigantic Materia cannons, or fib on their accounting statements. Shame on you Umbrella, Shinra, and Enron. Shaaaame. Your time is at hand.
And now there's a new evil company in town called Wisdom. Not only do they have the FASB worried with their haphazard quarterly reports, but it seems Wisdom is in the habit of turning an occasional employee into a light saber. The horror.
In Eve of Extinction, Josh Calloway and his girlfriend, Eliel Evergrand, are earning their keep at Wisdom. But as it turns out, Wisdom isn't innocently experimenting on fluffy bunnies, but is actually making insidious weapons out of people! Out of peeeeeeeple!
Josh and Eliel hightail it for the hills, but not before Wisdom turns Eliel into a "Legacy," a form-shifting weapon of great power. Now, Josh is fighting back with Eliel, or rather using Eliel, to take down Wisdom and restore his girl.
I for one think that a girlfriend who could turn into a weapon of ultimate destruction would be a good thing. You'll always be able to pop open a can of beans or dice some vegetables when she's nearby, and if any guys start coming on to her, you can smite them mightily. Take that, Ronco!
EOE attempts to blend the classic third-person button-mashing action of games like Final Fight with some light puzzle solving. Now mix that with a heaping helping of an unholy love child between The Matrix and Soul Calibur. Most of the minor enemies are named "Agent WhatsHisFace." There's even the exact subway in which Neo had a shootout with Agent Smith.
Nearly every weapon seems lifted from the martial arts set of Soul Calibur. They even have Ivy's sword whip! Why couldn't they have added those ridiculous melon ball weapons, too?
The Legacy - or should I say, your girlfriend - is capable of taking the form of all of these weapons. As you fight your way through the game, you earn a new weapon with each boss you wipe the floors with. The weapons have a leveling-up system, enabling longer combo chains with increased usage.
The combo system flows with a simple but effective mechanism. You could start with one weapon and switch mid-stroke to a second weapon, resulting in a satisfying Devil May Cry feeling of annihilation. Begin a combo with your two-fisted katars (Voldo of SC's weapon) and strike your enemies toward the heavens. Then press a button and presto! Smash that sucka back to Earth with an axe. To finish him off, you shoot an arrow into the crumpled mass on the floor. Delicious!
Though smashing bad guys is fun, sometimes you just want to smash things in general. Too bad there isn't enough environmental interaction in the game. I want to kick over trash cans and smash newspaper racks. Guess I'll just have to do those things in real life.
For the most part, minor enemies are dumber than posts but make worthy punching bags. You can run out of their "zone of influence" and they'll just stop dead in their tracks. They give up so easily. Fighting off a whole clique of baddies when they finally decide to attack starts to pose more of a challenge. Still, the boss characters are much more fun to fight and are really the only threat in the game.
Your weapons also have a clunky special attack (called a 'Legacy Attack') that utilizes the second analog stick. When activated, a pattern is traced on screen, and you have to move the stick in said pattern to pull off a big wacky attack. It sounds clunky, and yes, it is clunky. It's not intuitive whatsoever.
The environmental puzzle portions utilize the weapons. For example, your bo staff can be used to make a high jump. In mid-air, you would switch to your hands in order to grab a ledge or a rope, though the sword-whip can also be used as a grappling hook. Obstacles that will require these weapon combinations dot the expansive but barren and straightforward levels.
Unfortunately, you'll never really have a chance to figure out these puzzles, because the solutions are made so obvious. You see, your weapon is of the 'singing sword' variety, meaning you just can't shut the girl up. Eliel's dishes out vocal hints, suggestions, and straight-up answers left and right. What happened to letting me figure it out? I bet Eliel makes Josh always stop at the gas station for directions.
Speaking of voices, you might remember Josh Calloway's voice as Liquid in Metal Gear Solid 2, but more than anything, you'll remember him as Leonardo of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The little Californian Surfer twang is in there. The voice talents seem to be used in a lot of other games, and they do fairly well in here.
The rest of the audio is thoroughly irritating. The "music" includes the melodies of grating electric scrapings, like digital nails on an analog chalkboard. The sound effects are unsatisfying with not enough charge and oomph to match the action.
The graphics are also a bit sparse. There are some nice sparks and lighting effects, but the whole thing feels behind the times. Witness the gray hallways, gray floors, and gray everything.
The worst part is the camera, which drunkenly swings about making everything harder than it needs to be. The re-centering camera switch is sluggish and will moments later return to some off-kilter third-person view.
After you beat the game the first time (in most likely less than 5 hours), there are some extra modes to unlock and a more challenging run of the game. Eliel still won't get it in her head to shaddup, though.
Eve of Extinction does a nice job bringing together different ideas, but the game starts out a bit slow and ends too quickly. The smashing of heads and delivery of pain is fun, but is ultimately undermined by the awful camera and limited gameplay. But at least to get to beat things up with your girlfriend.