Friday, May 24, 2019
Remember Lococycle? Originally announced as an Xbox 360 arcade title, it first debuted on the Xbox One during the launch window. I remember it being pushed by Microsoft for a bit, until it released to less than stellar reviews.
Fast forward a few years, and the game was given away with the Games with Gold program. I finally decided to sit down and play it, mostly because I remember it not being a very long game. Or maybe it would be bad enough that I wouldn't care to play it ever again. One way or another, I was going to knock it off of my list of games to play.
Lococycle stars sentient weapon-slash-motorcycle IRIS. After being given life like Johnny 5, she takes her unwitting mechanic Pablo on a trip to Scottsburg, Indiana. A top level and expensive weapon escaping from a billion-dollar arms dealer? What could possibly go wrong on their route? Obviously, it is a lot. The game and story are over the top, but I sure didn't expect it to begin with, and feature, live-action cut scenes. The acting, locations, situations and voice acting are all really good. In fact, they are likely the high point of the game.
IRIS and Pablo go racing toward their destination, but the game isn't really a racing game. It's pretty much on rails, with you fighting various bad guy troops. You will need to steer clear of attacks and other vehicles. This is much harder than it should be, because the steering sensitivity is way too high. Trying to make a minor correction frequently resulted in me over-steering, hitting something or other in the process.
IRIS is far from defenseless, using her machine guns, grenade launcher, and even martial arts training to fight back. Yes, you read that right. There is plenty of melee combat in the game. While silly, it's my preferred way to fight. She has a normal attack, and a stronger attack where she throws Pablo out like a boomerang. She can also dash to other enemies as she flies through the air attacking them, and even counter many of their assaults. IRIS' health isn't great for many parts of the game, so countering correctly is crucial to survival. Thankfully the game is usually generous about the timing.
As mentioned before, there will be shooting sections. Very few sections will have you use her side-mounted grenade launcher, but there will be plenty of times when you shoot her front-mounted machine guns. These are fairly effective at taking out bad guys, especially when upgraded. It can be very hard to aim at some cars because the road isn't always straight. Trying to aim while winding back and forth is annoying. This is the time the overly sensitive steering would be welcome, but that is toned down a lot while you are actively shooting. It just feels backwards.
To mix things up, there are also some sections and boss fights that take the game in new directions. One may be a third person shooter, another may be a mini-game to fix IRIS before a train hits you. There are also a lot of QTE bits thrown in. These tend to be fairly inoffensive, but I suspect they are there to pad out the gameplay and length. The worst of these sections is the Street Fighter-like boss fight. I would give them a bonus point for the background, but that fight is so bad that I won't. First off, the two characters have actual Street Fighter special moves. Trouble is, there isn't a move list, and I only found two of IRIS'. The opponent has Blanka's Electricity, Dhalsim's stretchy limbs, the psycho crusher, a fireball, and the spinning lariat. IRIS can throw a fireball, but the computer reads the input, and uses the spinning lariat to pass through it. Every. Time. It's not only annoying, it's outright cheap. You'd think they were emulating an SNK boss instead.
The levels were longer than I thought they would be, but they didn't feel too long until towards the end. Even so, it takes less than 10 hours to beat the game. This counts the times you will die in a level, since I found several annoying parts that were a struggle for me to beat. There are not too many of these, provided you are using the points at the end of the stages to level up your attacks. You can't do a lot of grinding, since beating your high score on a level will only award you points past your lower score, since you already earned those. Therefore, the only way past those speed bumps is to get better.
After beating the game, you will have a plethora of extra points. These can then be used to unlock a bevy of concept art, behind the scenes pictures, and videos. There are a lot, but some of them are really interesting. I had no idea it was that James Gunn when I saw the name, as I assumed it was a person with the same name.
Lococycle is fairly short, and offers some interesting experiences. It's sometimes okay, and sometimes annoying, but I'd say it's worth trying a few levels if you got the game for free or cheap.
The over the top story and mostly top-notch voice acting are entertaining.
Feels clunky, and some of the fights are annoying.
So Pablo can detach, and there are times when IRIS isn't moving, but he decides not to escape at those times? The story is enjoyable at times, and dumb at others.
(Lococycle was received free from the Games with Gold program on Xbox)