[Throwback Thursday is a series where we look back on games from the past in reviews, retrospectives, and more. We will try our best to have something every week for your nostalgic enjoyment. You may even discover something new to love!]
Dumb is the only word I can think of to describe this next game. It’s dumb, dumb, dumb, and did I mention dumb? How can a game that is titled "Apocalypse Starring Bruce Willis" be a well thought out and smart game? I mean, think about it. It’s a game set in an apocalyptic future where you play as a character that was originally meant to be a side character, but somehow made it into the game as the game’s hero. What is even dumber is that Bruce Willis being involved with the game lessened the time the game was in development. How can this be, in any form, a good game? Even the game’s cover art looks as stupid as someone thinking we needed Syndicate to be rebooted as a first-person shooter. As a result, we have a game that has very little Bruce Willis involvement in it, and was made by the guys who later got famous for the early Tony Hawk Pro Skater games, Neversoft. How is the actual game? It’s really fun! It might be dumb, and a little flawed here and there, but that doesn’t stop it from being fun to play. It isn’t an all-time classic, but it is easily one of the hidden gems for the original PlayStation.
The story is as generic as it gets. You play as a character named Trey Kincaid, voiced by Bruce Willis, who is trying to stop an evil scientist named "The Reverend", who has unleashed four powerful weapons based off of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. It is up to Trey Kincaid, or as you will be calling him for the rest of the game, Bruce Willis, to stop this evil scientist and save the day! You can basically turn your brain off for this game’s story. There is very little in terms of story and character development, and Bruce Willis only has a few actual lines of dialogue, if you don’t count a million corny one-liners. This is definitely a game where gameplay is more important than story, so how about we move on?
The gameplay is of an isometric shooter, like Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light or Geometry Wars. You control Bruce Willis with the D-pad or analog stick, and this is where the controls take a turn to the weird. Instead of using the right analog stick to control where you aim and shoot, you use the four face buttons to aim left, right, up, and down. You use R1, R2, L1, and L2 to do stuff like switch between weapons and jumping. The levels will basically have you run and shoot. It’s just as simple as it sounds. Run, gun, jump, and hear a one-liner every once in a while. If you think I’m skimping you on the overall game design, I’m not. It is a very simple game, and while some might see that as a bad thing, it really isn’t. Sometimes, like I have said, I want to play a simple fun game. I like complex games also that teach you and show you how fun the gameplay and design can be, but sometimes, I just want to turn my brain off and shoot stuff!
Graphically, for the PlayStation, it looks fine. It runs smoothly and I saw very little slowdown, which is a shock due to the amount of action on the screen. They used a solid game engine that was used for Neversoft’s more popular and well-known Tony Hawk games. The music is a mixed bag for me, but mostly because I’m not the audience of the music used in this game. It’s filled with bands and singers like System of a Down and Poe. I like some of the songs, but not all of them. Like I said, I might not be the right person for this kind of soundtrack. It’s solid though and it fits the mood of the game. The voice acting is pretty bad, but more along the line of "so bad it’s good". Bruce Willis does what Bruce Willis does, and spews out corny one-liners, while everyone else sounds like this was their first gig in voice acting.
So, what’s wrong with this fun little shooter? The controls can take a few minutes to get used to. Using the four face buttons is a bit weird at first. Using the shoulder button to jump is also kind of dumb, since this game has some minor platforming segments that I have failed at many times due to how clunky the overall feel of the controls are. It doesn’t help that this game can be slightly difficult in some areas. I also found the graphics to be way too dark at times. It’s hard to see what’s ahead and around you when the entire color palette is very muddy and grungy-looking.
Final Verdict: Stupid Fun
In the end, Apocalypse Starring Bruce Willis, also known as Apocalypse somewhat starring Bruce Willis, is a solid and fun action game for your PlayStation. I think it can be found for relatively cheap online and in the wild. I got my copy for three dollars. As much as I want games to be perfect all around or focused more on story than multiplayer, sometimes, we need a little cheese and something dumb in our gaming libraries. It’s like when we need more movies like War Horse or Eyes Wide Shut, we end up loving and wanting movies like Machete. If you can find a copy, enjoy the post-apocalyptic future and save the world with Bruce Willis!