Saturday, May 15, 2021

Game 63: Corporation

Publisher:Core Design
Time:2 hours

It is not often I give up on a one of the more interesting titles so soon. Or FPS, rarely even both at once. Usually I require more serious issues, like being intensely difficult or prone to stonewalling my efforts. In contrast, I think I could beat this game, if I really wanted to. I suspect I fall into the same trap so many other players of this game fall into. Its just not appealing today. I don't talk much about games aging, because that's usually the player not having patience, but I find it hard to think of that not applying here. Even after reading the manual, I'm still not sure how I should deal with it.

Like the other early FPS titles, Corporation calls forward to what would come a great deal. System Shock, Robinson's Requiem, stealth games, all of these things look at this game and go "This game did what we did, but it was really bad, so it doesn't count." First immersion sim, first stealth game, first action game with a hunger system. It also has a more advanced damage system than Midwinter and I dare say anything afterward. That's all nice, but once you take away that cool stuff there isn't anything supporting it. There's no substance.
Now, this could be my fault, I only played one level...but I couldn't figure out how to advance past that level. It was featureless gray walls, but somehow I did manage to understand the level's design a little bit. Its hard to truly criticize that here, but I never did figure out where the elevator down was. While this does call into question my own skills at video games, and this game is putting my completion ratio dangerously close to 50%, I have more patience than most people are willing to put into video games, even, dare I say it, back then. That's a bad sign, especially considering the amount of technical wrangling you need in order to play this game to begin with. That's not something reflected in a usual playtime.
Enemies and weapons are deceptively simple, functioning as basic as basic can be. Well, if they shot projectiles. And there's one exception in a robot spider that just spawns out of nowhere if you've tripped an alarm. They function like robotic facehuggers, sometimes when they attack you they cover the screen, presumably cutting up your face. That's cool, I admit, but it's just an attack, I still don't know what I'm doing.
Inventory proved a complete mess. This might be partially down to being completely unable to get any sound, but I couldn't do anything with items. I'm not sure if they do anything, and I've read the manual at least twice. What do I do with the lockpick? Do I use it on a keypad? Do I want to use it on a keypad? How do I get back up to full health, because nothing seems to do it. Its just a shame.

And what a shame it is, Corporation promised an interesting cyberpunk story and infiltrating an evil corporate building. That whole concept seems very cool and underused, especially today where such a subject would be ideal for indie developers. A subject not often tackled, yet provides a short overall game yet one with a lot of width in how you tackle that. I could go for that. Your artist, programmer and level designer can think up some pretty cool concepts, and if you're running out of steam, well, hey, who said this building needed to be more than 16 floors? Much like this game itself, I don't think we'll ever be satisfied in that regard.

There are 5 guns, much the same as one another, a fist, which is awkward, and a grenade, which I did not use. They're okay, but they're clearly just tools. 1/10

I saw two enemies, a robot spider that constantly spawned from the ceiling, not a fan. The second, a regular robot guardian with a projectile weapon. He existed. There were mutants later on, I'm sure they'd be hitscanners or just like the robot. 1/10


I only saw one, but I can't imagine it was going to get any better. 1/10

Player Agency:
I don't mind these weird mouse/keyboard hybrids before they figured out WASD+mouse controls. You move around with the arrow keys and do things with the mouse. Its clever/annoying that you have to move a gun into your hand before you can shoot it. Little touches. Such a shame they were wasted here. 4/10

For a game that put a lot of effort into its design, there sure isn't much in the ways of anything to do. Shoot things...uh...pick up 0/10

Despite the goodwill given by the manual and the GUI...the game doesn't really feel like much of anything. 0/10

Pixel art? Beautiful, all of it. The rest...not so much. Endless gray walls. Black doors. Blobs representing items I can pick up. Everything that isn't a wall is a sprite, but it isn't enough to save it. 1/10

An incredible backstory about a cyberpunk dystopia. The most interesting part of the game and also the only part I liked. Shame that doesn't matter when the game starts. 0/10

I could not get sound working for this game. Judging by what videos I could see of this game online, I doubt anyone has in the 21st century. Amiga sounds are not impressive, though because of my numerous technical issues, I can only go by online videos. 0

That's 8. That's not different from the rest of the lowly-rated pre-Doom shooters, and still Midwinter somehow remains undefeated among '80s FPS games. Realistically, this game's fault is dreaming too big before technology could reach it. In the end, is that such a horrible thing?

There is a Genesis version, which I'll be treating as its own separate thing. Its a mouse-heavy game, of course the Genesis version is going to be different. Its going to have sound too, and music. The question is if that game will be good. There's also an expansion to the Amiga version, which I won't be touching for obvious reasons. This game had massive amounts of technical problems, to the point I finally settled on DOS. You need to use D-Fend Reloaded and force the mouse on if you want mouse controls, but I wouldn't recommend that.

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