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Generator Rex: Agent of Providence Generates Minimimal Excitement

Generator Rex: Agent of Providence

Publisher: Activision

Developer: Virtuos

Multiplatform (Xbox 360 Version Reviewed)

Does it pay to judge a game by its
cover? Yes, Generator Rex: Agents of Providence gives every
appearance of being a generic licensed kiddy cartoon game, from the
uninspired cover art, to the underwhelming gameplay claims on the
back such as the chance to “Fight alongside Bobo Haha!” to the
barebones manual inside the box. But some of the best games in video
game history, such as the Ducktales games for the NES, Goldeneye and
Kingdom Hearts, are smeared with licensing and yet manage to rise
above those origins to create something groundbreaking and excellent
that even non-fans of the licenses should enjoy.

I’m going to spoil it up front,
Generator Rex: Agents of Providence is definitely not one of those
games. In this case the cover tells you all you need to know, it’s a
generic licensed kiddy cartoon game that really will only appeal to
undiscriminating kids and huge fans of the license. Does it at least
serve them well?

Features:

  • Original Generator Rex story

  • Cameos and feature appearances by
    Generator Rex characters

  • Original voice actors

  • Nine levels, including motorcycle and skydiving levels

  • Seven Generator Rex weapons, three
    upgradeable

  • Fight alongside Bobo Haha!

Story:

I’ve never actually seen the Generator
Rex cartoon, but the story of the game makes everything reasonably
clear and manages to be keep things moving along. Generator Rex is
some kind of cocky teenager who was injected with nanites that allow
him to make weapons and vehicles out of his body. He’s kind of like
Turbo Teen but more versatile. He works for an agency called
Providence that hunts down victims of an “E.V.O. Plague” that turns them into ugly
mutants, and he helps to heal them with his powers.

The story is based around a hoary old
video game convention. The main villain, Van Kleiss, wants to
duplicate Rex’s powers and is hunting pieces of a formula to do so.
So of course you go to various random locations to get them first.
And of course he gets them all regardless of what you do and turns
into a giant monster you fight at the end.

The highlight of the story, though, is
the characterization. Rex is confident without being too grating.
There’s also a nice love triangle for fans of the show, with Rex
trying to figure out why Circe the occasionally dog-faced girl has
betrayed him. Hint: she doesn’t want a face that turns into a dog
face anymore. Rex is also trying to fend off the unwanted and
possibly lethal affections of unhinged four-armed goth girl Breach.
Fans who ship Rex and Circe are definitely going to find some
material to interest them in the game, although it ends on a
frustratingly coy note about their relationship. Rex really comes off
as a ladies man in this game, he’s hitting on or being chased by
every woman that appears. He even pesters an adult doctor for a date,
which seems kind of strange because Rex appears to be a teen.

Other Generator Rex characters make
appearances. The aforementioned Bobo Haha, a talking monkey, is a
highlight, and he has a bit of funny dialogue. Other Providence
officials yell at you on your comm and tell you to hurry up or
explain incredibly basic gameplay elements to you. Your brother
constantly calls you “hermano”, which gets a bit annoying. The game
actually sprinkles a few Spanish words throughout to acknowledge
Rex’s ethnicity, but it sounds more like some attempt to meet an EIC
requirement than natural dialogue.

Gameplay:

What’s the least imaginative way to set
up a 3D brawler? Right, have your character walk along and be stopped
by barriers every little bit until he clears an area of enemies.
That’s most of what you do in Generator Rex. I’m trying real hard not
to say “God of War lite” here, but it’s similar, right down to
the mercifully easy quicktime button events to finish off bosses. Rex has three
weapons, some big metal fists that are good for maximum damage, a
sword that hurts less but hits several enemies at once, and a gun
that is useless except for hitting switches or taking out a few
enemies that perch on rooftops and shoot at you. He has a light
attack combo and a heavy attack, which are marginally upgradeable
to add more hits per combo and a charge attack.

Rex also has access to “Omega”
attacks, which are super powerful versions of his ordinary weapons
that he can activate to do massive damage to bosses or to quickly
clear an area of enemies. The way to succeed at combat is to
efficiently and quickly dispatch enemies to build a combo multiplier.
The higher it goes the faster it build’s Rex’s Omega energy and the
more he can use these attacks. Rex can also upgrade his health and
Omega energy meters.

But you might not even have to.
Generator Rex is a very easy game. I actually fell asleep playing it
on the second level and woke up a while later and Rex was still
alive. It gets a bit tougher in later levels but never so hard that a
player who is experienced with this type of game will have any
trouble. I did die a few times because of misjudged jumps and a boss
I kept using the wrong Omega attack on, but for the most part it’s a
game you’ll breeze through.

That also applies to the few very obvious and easy puzzles in the game. Even then, if you take more than a few
seconds to figure them out Rex will give you a hint that just about solves it for you.

There are also a couple of sections to
give relief from the brawling gameplay. The game opens with a simple
skydiving sequence. Another level begins with a motorcycle ride. This
is where you get to “fight alongside Bobo Haha,” although what
actually happens is that you control Bobo and Rex at the same time, with
Rex as the motorcycle and Bobo riding on the back and occasionally shooting down a couple of
harpies with a reticule-aimed bubble gun. The motorcycle sequence might be the worst
in the game; it’s so hard to see anything on the road that I regularly
slammed into parked cars I didn’t know where there. There are
also sequences where Rex grows giant robot rabbit legs and does some
light platforming. These are plagued by lack of precision and it’s easy to
fall or miss a jump if you’re not very careful. A big disappointment
was that Rex has the ability to fly but only uses it in cutscenes, a
flying level would have been fun.

Finally, a pet peeve. Apparently the
game has mid-level streaming points to load more of the level. What
happens when these start is that Rex will turn off all of his weapons
and start walking forward slow as molasses. That’s frustrating
enough, but what made it infuriating is that throughout the levels
all the other characters who speak to you on your comm constantly
yell at you to hurry up, sometimes very near the sections where the
game forces you to slow down.

This is a relatively short game. Most
gamers could easily blow through it in less than five hours on the
first play-through, a really good player could finish it in three.

Graphics:

The graphics just aren’t up to Xbox 360
standards. It’s one of the ugliest and least technically impressive
games I’ve played on the console. Textures are rough, character
models are very basic, everything looks a bit dark. There are blurry
texture effects I haven’t seen since the N64, and the first real
level, Mexico, makes a terrible first impression with ugly dark
textures and unimaginative environments. Things get slightly better
as the game goes on. The Aquania level, basically an underwater cave,
is well-designed and attractive to look at. And Breach has a slightly
creepy Silent Hill-inspired level that’s a lot of fun.

The human characters are suitably
cartoony and move relatively well. The E.V.O’s are mostly blobby
frog-like things though. Only a handful are creative enough to be
memorable, the best being a huge mutated bunny that Rex fights twice.
The presentation is very bare bones, as in one example where little video boxes
pop up on the screen when a character talks to you over the comm. Their mouths don’t move, so they look paralyzed.

The cutscenes that tell the story are
pre-rendered CGI. Like the rest of the graphics they’re muddy,
relatively low-poly and kind of dark, but they get the job done and
at least look slightly better than the rest of the game.

Sound:

Generator Rex’s soundtrack features
some of the forgettable buttrock I’ve come to expect in licensed
games, although a slightly hard to hear version of the show’s theme
song plays during the initial skydiving sequence and there also nice
enough heroic themes in some levels.

The voice acting is very well-done by
the original voice actors. Sometimes voice actors can sound a bit
bored and uninspired while doing game dialogue, but these guys are
pros.

Sound effects are serviceable but
unmemorable.

Play Control:

Everything is simple
enough to access and works the way it’s supposed to. Sometimes
choosing between the different normal and Omega abilities with your
d-pad on the fly can be a bit of a pain, but for the most part
there’s not a problem. It would have been really nice if the icons
for the Omega abilities were larger and more distinct, though. Two of
them look nearly the same and it’s easy to pick one when you meant to
select the other.

As I mentioned before, the jumping can
feel a bit imprecise and it’s sometimes hard to judge perspective.

Extras:

The primary extra in the game
is the chance to replay the levels again to beat a generous and
unchallenging best time. You probably won’t want to. You can also
collect DNA from E.V.O.s you kill to impress the adult scientist Rex
hits on. I know getting all the DNA gets you an achievement, but I
don’t know if you really get a cutscene showing the date if you
finish it because the drop rate to collect all the DNA is ridiculous.
There’s one evil tree that dropped just one DNA piece during my
first playthrough. I needed 10 to fill out its category. No thanks.

Finally, you can find items from Rex’s
past in the levels. He’ll make a comment on these and share some of
history and then they show up as decorations in his room, but they’re
small and unimpressive.

Overall:

So, back to the question. Is
this enough for fans? Maybe for younger fans or extreme mega-fans of
the cartoon. It provides a chance to play with some or Rex’s weapons
and it’s easy, which might be a pleasant distraction for your kid
brother. It also tells a nice little story in Rex’s world and gives
some teases to the Rex/Circe relationship, which could be enough to
make it worth slogging through the gameplay for a huge fan of the
cartoon. Everyone else, even casual fans of the cartoon, should feel
free to skip it.

Score: 5
Graphics: 4
Play Control: 7
Gameplay: 5
Satisfaction: 4
Sound: 6

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