Publisher: 505 Games
Review Platform: Xbox LIVE Arcade (Xbox 360)
Review Copy Provided By: 505 Games
Release Date: September 20, 2013
The publishing team 505 Games has offended and disappointed me before with its previous abomination Deep Black. When Marlow Briggs appeared before me, a sigh of disappointment left my mouth. Soon after completing the game, my dissatisfaction with the company grew even larger. Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death is a hollow, distasteful imitation of one of Sony’s greatest franchises.
Firefighter Marlow Briggs is on vacation with his girlfriend Eva Torres at a Mayan excavation site. Five minutes later, the two decide that they want to leave, because Torres feels as if she’s being used, but are stopped by Torres’ boss Heng Long. Moments after, Long’s hired assassin lodges an ancient weapon through Briggs’ chest as Torres screams in agony. Luckily, Briggs is resurrected from the pits of Xibalba by an ancient tiki mask so he can save his girlfriend and murder the evil Long before he takes over the world.
The plot is ridiculous. Not once does it try to flesh itself out or make any sense. At first, plot wise, killing a huge amount of enemies is justifiable. But, as the story progresses, Briggs stops caring and murders everyone and everything in his path. He even has the nerve to brag about it multiple times. It was disturbing to watch Briggs tear a giant, living creature’s eyeball out of its head and then beat it to death while its eye was still dangling out of its socket.
The Mask of Death’s gameplay is very dull and uninspired. In fact, it shamelessly steals every scrap of its design from Sony Santa Monica’s God of War. From Kratos’ war cries during combat to the vertical wall climbing sections with enemies, it has it all. Everything that was good about God of War is missing from this adventure.
Fighting sections that could’ve been challenging and entertaining are instead slow, boring button mashing fests. There is a practice room for combos in the game’s pause menu, but the player will be too busy, mashing the heavy-attack button and throwing overly effective magic knives, to care. New enemy types are constantly being introduced, but many are used only once. Near the end of the game, out of the 12 types that were introduced, the player has the pleasure of fighting the same three repeatedly.
There are many mini bosses, but, sadly, they are as tough as the foot soldiers. The main bosses are just as easy to kill as the mini bosses, and the final boss is a joke.
In between the hack and slash portions, horrible mini games called challenges are forced upon the player. The mini games consist of the player dodging deadly objects to collect orbs, shooting helicopters down with a turret and destroying helicopters in a mini plane. These sections are unbearable.
During battle sequences, the game controls well. But, when it comes to platforming sections, it’s quite the opposite. Briggs will fall to his death due to loose controls and sometimes get stuck inside walls.
Platforming segments are elementary. Throughout the majority of the campaign, the player will be scaling vine-covered walls, hanging off ledges and moving over ravines by attaching a magical rope to oddly placed levitating hooks and swinging across. It’s also notable to mention that one of Briggs’ forms of transportation, his pair of wings, was taken straight out of God of War 3.
The upgrade system, which can be fully unlocked in a single playthrough, is composed of four weapons and special attacks. Upgrading the weapons and special attacks increases the size of Briggs’ health and magic bars, which is nice. Even though there are only four weapons available, they all feel different. Pantna’s Tusk, a large scythe, is heavy but powerful, while Tacab’s Bloodthirsty Claws, which look similar to Kratos’ Blades of Chaos, are utterly useless.
With its golden Mayan structures, the game closely resembles the PlayStation Vita title Uncharted: Golden Abyss. Unfortunately, many of the areas in the game are under polished. In fact, Briggs looks like an action figure during his gliding and swinging animations. It’s hilarious and sad.
The cut scenes are the most annoying feature in the game. Instead of animating the scenes, Zootfly decided to use moving still-frames. It looks like a horrible version of Halo 3’s forge mode.
The voice acting isn’t horrible, but is very stereotypical. Heng Long is as Asian as an Asian character can be, and Marlow Briggs sounds like a black action hero. The vocal work that bothered me the most was the tiki mask’s, which sounded Jamaican instead of Mayan. The soundtrack is forgettable, and the sound effects are average at best.
Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death is a mess and a waste of an interesting idea. It’s obvious that 505 Games is not going to stop publishing these time wasters any time soon. So, let the horrible times keep on rolling.