Redemption of the Bomb
The FPS retro-renaissance has been in favor since late last year. With the announcement of DUBAI, fans of labyrinthine designs and key hunts were treated to the evolution of the classic formula that they revered and improved its inspiration in almost every way. Amidst the evil, released earlier this year, did just that by breaking down some fantastic original ideas to shake things up. It was a good time to be a shooter fan in the 90's.
Now, after a year of teasing and building excitement, John Hughes is upon us. Much like those mentioned shooters, John Hughes It takes us back to the past when archers didn't want to go down similar corridors and shoot at enemies scanning blows in the same environments. This is all about exploring at an exquisitely detailed level, gathering a huge arsenal of weapons from larger lives and kicks. One twist is that this was built on the same technology that powered those games in the 1990s, lending it another layer of authenticity.
That extra step is appreciated because John Hughes it certainly looks and feels like something that could have been released before the turn of the century.
John Hughes (Computer) [Reviewed], PS4, Xbox One, Switch)
Investor: Voidpoint, LLC
Issuer: 3D Customs
Posted: August 15, 2019 (PC), TBA (consoles)
MSRP: $ 24.99
In John Hughes, the players take on the role of Shelley "Bombswell" Harrison, a GDF soldier with the unanimous head and blows. After being attacked by a group of cybernetically advanced soldiers created by Dr. Hadesus Shackel, a mad scientist from hell, raised by machine guns to carry out bidding, she returns to GDF headquarters to attack his lab. To get there, she needs to collect an arsenal of incredible weapons, blow up the heads of every piece of debris on her way, and head to some ridiculously complex levels. It's pure bliss in the 90's, right next to its minimalist plot and pixel graphics.
John Hughes not only does it create the past, but it does so with the technology of the past. Built using the renowned Build engine that powered games such as Duke Nukem 3D and Blood, John Hughes is every bit as crazy, quick and bitter as his inspirations. In fact, she plays as the best version of her inspiration, using modern-day design philosophies to push her antique engine far beyond what was possible 20 years ago.
This way, you won't find bold switches that open doors 50 miles away or keys hidden behind the immediate freezers. John Hughes certainly not ashamed to challenge the player, but the level design feels more realistic even at the best levels of the past. Along with the attention to detail the Voidpoint investor gave to each environment, John Hughes is excluded as the actual location to visit. The city streets are dirty, full of dressing sets and stuffed with stupid little interactive items to play with. It is amazing how far the Build engine is pushed here.
It's also amazing how far Voidpoint has upgraded the engine to feel modern. In most classic games, local damage was not possible. You could shoot at enemies wherever you felt, and the damage they did was based on numerical values, rather than account for specific parts of the body. John Hughes adjusts what has become standard and includes things such as needleheads and different values for shooting enemies at the feet, giving much more skill to the actions. You can now fly into a room full of enemies and release single shots into their brains to finish them off.
You need to get good at it, too, because John Hughes is a pretty challenging shooter. While the beginning may be a bit stiffer than the rest of the game, it mostly comes down to not being familiar with the various enemies that populate this crazy version of the future Washington DC. Once you get into the swing of things, you will begin to prioritize who should go down first and how to move around the room.
Similar to a classic Unfortunatelyiconic and glorious catch of the bad, John Hughes it has a very different list of enemies that you will look at throughout its approximately nine-hour campaign. Get started with simple yellow-hooded enemies with revolvers before working on massive grenade launchers with claws. Each of them is easy to identify in range because of their unique spirits and animations, and more importantly, none of them act like the jackets that populated previous Build Engine titles. When you enter a room, you may not hear clear indications of which enemy is there, but you will notice guns and rounds being loaded, giving you time to find cover or inspect the area before attacking.
There's a rush to open the door, to watch the dreaded red android coat and a multitude of those frightening spider-bots, running fast behind a desk or desk, and then hearing the enemy fire blast from your head as you barely miss it. This is a lightning fast FPS game that accurately captures the sensation of archers in the arena of old, requiring you to memorize enemy patterns and learn when to use specific weapons to get them down better.
It wouldn't be fun if the arsenal was pleasant, but basically, every weapon in the John Hughes is great From the seriously powerful starting revolver, the funny rifle / grenade combo, to the hot bowling bombs, you can find use for almost any weapon at your disposal. More than classic games, finding out which gun deals with certain enemies is the best key to maintaining your ammunition inventory, which is scarce at initial levels. As long as you can pump 100 rounds of cunning on larger enemies, lobbying for five grenades would be more efficient.
I really want to talk about Shelley's revolver, the lover, a few more. What happens in almost every old school shooter (and even a modern one) is that your starting weapon is just that: the weapon you start with. Once you find something else, you basically have no need to return to the gun unless you run out of ammunition. In John Hughes, most of the weapons have secondary fire modes to mix things up. For the lover, he gets a function similar to Red Dead Redemption is Dead Eye by targeting enemies Shell automatically fires as soon as you release it. It is God's gift to take away enemies from time to time and fly bastards that can continuously grow your health from above. In many cases, I would go into a room, wipe the revolver, and clear away the enemies before approaching them.
Discovering all these unique thresholds is part of the charm of John Hughes. It's simple to play, but it is also intelligently designed to encourage you to practice its various systems. About the only part where the game goes down. Although I will never knock a developer for wanting to include as many games as possible, John Hughes definitely lasts an hour or two longer than it should.
While each location has at least one incredible shootout to target, the game ceases to introduce different enemies during the second hour. Different bosses come out and throw themselves into the mix as fewer versions of themselves, but it happens so sporadically that all the freshness of learning from these enemies, your weapons and the flow of each arena loses its luster.
The best comparison I can make is with this year's blockbuster Won Wick: Chapter 3. While a great movie, the action goes on so much you'll almost get bored of the midpoint. Johnson has encountered and defeated so many enemies of greater power in such clever ways that it is only becoming too normal. John Hughes it feels a bit like it, contains action that will tarnish the other games, but is also a pair of course in itself.
The structure is more similar to Earthquake II from Duke Nukem 3D, so I think that may be partly why I feel this way. Instead of containing episodes with visibly different levels, you are constantly moving forward towards the goal as you build your arsenal. By the time you are in the middle of the game, you have every gun and so much ammo that the difficulty ceases to apply. Even when heavier enemies enter, you will have more than enough grenades to break through without a second thought.
There are also some segments where the design feels a bit too old-school. Throw you throw a switch that opens the elevator to get into the sewer, but the elevator is not clearly marked for you. It was a shameful time to go back up the level to find what I missed, though it did at least allow me to uncover some secrets scattered about it. Finding those secrets early on can really seize the chances in your favor, which is exactly what the old school shooters have done so well.
God, I understood how great this game is without mentioning the main protagonist. In the 2018 PAX demo, Whole Kind felt like an opportunity. It was definitely early in the development, but my hope was that Voidpoint would give it more to do and say, much as most people remember Duke Nukem. This is certainly achieved here, with actress Valery Arem providing a bunch of cute one-sided and vulgar language to bolster the action. It's all the best parts of Duke without any outdated writing. Areem clearly has an explosion, which makes Shelley feel more fulfilled than her predecessors.
I could go on, but I'll just do it. John Hughes not only does it attract what makes retro shooters so memorable, they improve in many ways. While not as great as some other recent entries in the same genre, this is a game that fans of the past should not miss. It is brutal, lightning fast and always fun before anything else. Some nips and tucks here with a few more enemies out there and we could have a real contender for the "queen of FPSes".
[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
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John Hughes reviewed by Peter Glagovski
Impressive effort with some notable problems holding it back. It won't surprise everyone, but it's worth your time and money.
As a result: Destructoid Review Guide