March Offworld Recon

March! Offworld Recon Review – 2004

See that?  Look at my hand.  It’s twitching uncontrollably.  And look at my hollow eyes, my stricken face, and my gaunt figure, slumped effetely in the armchair.  Yet it is no physical ailment that afflicts me.  Take my hand please and make comforting noises to me as I attempt to relate my horrifying tale.

It was a cursed day that the large white March Offworld Reconenvelope slipped through my door.  It appeared to be fairly innocuous, and contained an interesting looking title called March! Offworld Recon.  A team-based arcade-style shooter set on Mars, battling rebel robots.  Ha, little did I know.

I installed the game and ventured into what is best described as a living nightmare.  The objective of any game is the provision of enjoyment and entertainment to its user.  Perhaps the developers misread these criteria as ‘anger and frustration’.

The opening scene placed me inside a deserted corridor on an abandoned ship.  At least I think it was a corridor, or maybe it was just an elongated box.  Hard to tell to be honest.

I wandered through more various boxy corridors, and then in a dramatic moment I ran into my first enemy, after realising it wasn’t just a tea strainer with long arms.

I affably strolled up to him and let blast with my machine gun.  I stood there for 30 seconds firing at point blank range without discernible effect until he eventually killed me by audaciously swinging his arms at me.  *Reload level*

I scooted back through the corridors to meet him again, and this time let blast from a little way back.  He was felled within a second.  As is the case with some low quality shooters, March! is riddled with bugs, not least this pathetic one that forces you to retreat from each baddie a little way in order to kill them.

I came across more long-arm robots and decided to take cover behind a nearby metal crate.  Here was when I found out that the vital crouch button merely lowers you by half an inch.  What a total waste of time!

I shortly came across some team-mates.  Great, surely things would get better now.  Well not really, because your AI mates display all the intelligence of a cardboard box.  I’d feel safer being accompanied by my little sister armed with a tin-opener.

After passing some truly horrendous ‘puzzles’, (that take an hour to find out what to do, and then ten seconds to actually do them), I came to the pyramid level.

I killed all the local bad guys and was then faced with a room that had eight switches, and four things that looked like switches but wouldn’t move.  I tried combinations, I tried single presses, I tried double presses, all with no discernible effect.

At this point, my remaining two AI bots wandered into the cramped environment and set themselves down, blocking access to every switch bar one, no amount of screamed obscenities or pushes would entice them to move, so I opened fire on them like a madman, and slaughtered them mercilessly.

I have never felt so good in the game as I did at that point.  The pathetic excuses for team-mates were gone, and my fury abated somewhat, so I could continue my button bashing.

So I try to press a nearby button, and my crosshair jumps up.  What?  I try again and this time it jumps down, not letting me focus on the button.  The twitching started here.  The crosshairs leap about whenever you try and point them on something nearby, infuriating me beyond measure.

I finally found that four certain buttons opened the doors of the four surrounding tower buildings.  Ah, progress.  I gingerly proceeded into one of the towers to find….five more buttons.  Some instructions flash up, ‘find the right combination and then lock it’.  You.  Are.  Joking.

After an hour of attempts in all four towers (a total of 28 buttons!!) to make anything happen at all, trembling in unsuppressed frustration, I decided that unless I took some light relief, I might be permanently affected.  So I found my first scrap of enjoyment by exiting this wretched shambles of a game.

Can you believe I was foolhardy enough to try again the next day?  That two hour session produced in me the most aggressive behaviour I have ever experienced, and it was all I could do to stop myself running off and murdering somebody, or hanging myself from a nearby bridge.

This game feels like the first beta test of an amateur production.  The character models I could have surpassed myself given ten minutes in 3D Studio MAX.  The textures are so sparse as to render every environment lifeless and achingly dull and repetitive.

All areas are dominated by various garish colours, red, blue, yellow etc, and serve to choke your appreciation of any décor that you might happen to find hiding away somewhere.

The guns are feeble, enemies are painfully unimaginative and uninteresting, team-mates are outstandingly egregious, and level design seemingly authored by a chimp with no hands and a history of mental instability.  I could go on, but I’m afraid I might start crying.

The only thought that makes you persevere for very long in this game is the distant hope that somewhere, somehow, you might bump into a small scrap of enjoyment.  That never happens.

March! is frankly soul-destroying, and should be issued with a health warning due to the limitless frustration, irritation, anger, fury and rage it can bring out in you.  I rest here now, my tortured nerves throbbing, my vision blurry and my body taut with tense agony as I recall those times of suffering and anguish.  Never again!!