|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Rainbow Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: THQ||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Feb. 8, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Though you'll gain a host of new abilities and attacks throughout the game, you'll likely find yourself sticking to a small handful of trusty skills. That's okay, however, because it's the game's story and level design that really give Deadly Creatures its legs (sorry for the pun). Our first impressions of the game weren't that great; however, the levels slowly begin to incorporate obstacles and gameplay elements that are not only fun and cinematic, but make total sense within the context of controlling both a tarantula and scorpion.
There are three levels of difficulty in the game - all available from the onset - but honestly, after about an hour or two of stumbling over some of the more clumsy attack techniques, we put the game on its easiest setting. Surprisingly, that made the experience much more enjoyable, since we were then able to concentrate on the game's exploration (which eventually sinks its fangs into you and doesn't let go). By the time we acquired the Stealth Pounce attack for the tarantula - which allowed us to take out enemies unawares and avoid a lot of the game's frustrating face-to-face combat - we found ourselves truly enamored with the experience.
Deadly Creatures' story is subtle. You'll make your way through parts of a level, then occasionally cross paths with the two human prospectors. After doing a bit of eavesdropping, you'll move on to kill a few more enemies and explore the rest of the level. But the story is delivered with such wonderful finesse and pacing that, in spite of (or perhaps because of) its issues with combat, Deadly Creatures eventually becomes a very compelling journey. The thing is, a real-life bug probably does want to avoid confrontation whenever possible, so utilizing the game's other strengths in order to traverse levels actually ended up making the game more enjoyable. We still wish the motion controls had been ironed out a bit better, but the experience retains its charm regardless.
Deadly Creatures is also very pretty to look at. Technically speaking, it's not really doing anything past what we've already seen in many games from the original Xbox, but the art design and exceedingly smart use of textures give the game a really clean look and presentation. The cinematic direction is also top-notch, and textures look almost as good up close as they do from afar. You'll see a wide variety of creatures, and they all animate smoothly and behave in unique ways. The lighting is also used to great effect, though occasionally it can be hard to see key elements in the environment.
There are load times throughout levels, but they're usually very quick. The prospectors, however, are probably the weakest aspect of the visuals, as the character models have an almost cartoony style that doesn't quite work with the rest of the game's visuals. Still, the framerate is pretty solid, the texture work is really attractive, and everything gels together with its own ebb and flow.
The audio, too, is quite impressive. There isn't a whole lot of music per se, but there's always tons of atmospheric sound in the background that does a great job of lulling the player into the game's eerie world. Since you're down in that world, you'll experience the sounds of all the various wildlife in the game. It also helps that both Billy Bob Thorton and Dennis Hopper brought their A-game to the production. The entire experience is very moody, and overall, Deadly Creatures seems to have had a lot of love put into it.
It's hard to pinpoint exactly just who Deadly Creatures is aimed at. It has received a teen rating, but it also has a lot of dark overtones. That said, it really is a game worth checking out should you be in the mood for something particularly grim. The combat and motion controls are less than perfect, but the level design and cinematic storytelling really steal the show. Deadly Creatures offers a rare perspective that's very entertaining, if only for a brief time.
CCC Freelance Writer