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Newton vs. The Horde Review


See PixlBit's Review Policies

On 01/31/2012 at 11:16 PM by Nick DiMola

Occasionally humorous dialog can't prop up this mundane venture.
RECOMMENDATION:

Not Recommended.

Physics simulations have always made for fun playgrounds; whether you're just tossing objects into stacks of blocks or using the elasticity effect to rocket an object across the screen, it's mindless destructive fun. Logic would dictate that tossing in a few game objectives would make for an instantly enjoyable game, but with Newton vs. The Horde the resulting product is the exact opposite.

Housing roughly thirty levels, Newton vs. The Horde is at its core a 2D physics simulation. Each of its levels offers a specific objective that must be completed to progress. Typically this will involve defeating a given number of zombies from the titular horde. These stick figure antagonists are always approaching and can only be defeated by either utilizing the physics engine or lobbing light bulbs at them.

As you quickly learn, light bulbs are your best friend and an indispensable tool in each and every level. In addition to killing the undead, they can destroy the spawn portals from which they come and shed light on dark areas of the level.

With only thirty levels in the game, it shouldn't be unreasonable to expect each one to be wittily crafted. What we find in Newton vs. The Horde are at least fifteen levels with puzzles that are as simple as hauling light bulbs at each and every enemy as they approach. Though the light bulbs are a limited resource, they will regenerate incrementally over time. In these levels, the regeneration rate will outpace your zombie encounter rate, making the light bulbs the most viable solution despite the various physics traps scattered throughout the landscape. As you can imagine, pointing and clicking where you want to throw a light bulb for half the game gets pretty boring.

As the levels progress, things do start to improve. At times you'll be forced to set up some of your own physics traps in order to focus on other objectives without falling victim to the oncoming zombies. For a game seemingly based on physics traps, it's unacceptable that it takes more than half of the game for levels to start requiring their use.

It doesn't help much that the first level to require deeper strategy is seemingly flawed in its design. This particular level instructed me to light a pathway to the exit door (we'll ignore the fact that the wise-cracking Newton and his female assistant are stationary in every level). After numerous attempts, I simply couldn't get the game to recognize that I had in fact created the lit pathway. I decided to turn my attention instead to the spawning zombies and disposing of all the portals; thus eliminating all opposition, allowing me to pay absolute attention to clearing the pathway. To my surprise, when the last portal was dissipated, the level ended. Turns out the objective was wrong, which was only a bit frustrating to learn after countless failed attempts.

Dull puzzles aside, Newton vs. The Horde's greatest problem traces back to the physics system itself. It's simply no fun to set up physics traps and execute them. Part of the problem is that it can be extremely tough to grab the right objects on the screen and even tougher to coerce the game into letting you move them as you see fit. Another problem is the control panel, which takes up a hefty portion of the bottom of the screen. Because you move the camera view as you reach the edges of the screen with the pointer, it’s very easy to accidentally point in the control panel rather than at the relevant location on screen.

Many of the game's puzzles where you aren't just hurling light bulbs can often be easily solved by dropping weighty objects down hills, destroying everything in their path. While it's absolutely possible to set up more in-depth traps, it's far easier to avoid fighting the controls that require pixel-perfect accuracy and just drop a heavy object on your enemies.

Despite the objectives eventually varying in the later levels, the fact of the matter is that Newton vs. The Horde just isn't a fun game. If it's not plodding, it's frustrating, and if it's not frustrating it's just flat out boring. While Newton vs. The Horde isn't as bad as some of the other drivel that released on WiiWare recently, it's not a game worth your time or money.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:


All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.


These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.


This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.


Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.


Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.


A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.


 

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