Zeno Clash is just one of those games where you think "Why wasnt something like this made earlier?" In the dime-a-dozen FPS market where it's evolved into a quest for quality of the story and gameplay innovation over simple graphical updates and increased gore, its nice to see a refreshing change away from the clones, yet with more to offer on levels of gameplay that many FPS havent even delved into as far.
The 'Punch-outesque' melee combat system in this game is super fun. Dark Messiah had as close as you could get to 1st person combat in that respect but the emphasis was more on weapons. Zeno Clash has a large focus, not just on empty handed combat (aswell as the occasional weapon) but also on blocks and counter moves. I'll say this straight up, after the first few levels, it can get quite tough if you havent got the defensive moves up to scratch. Conservation of energy and topping up on the limited number of powerups in each level is a real strategy. You can take on up to half a dozen people at one time. Each blow is very much felt by the exquisite sound design. The cracks, swing, hits, smacks and whacks just knock the wind out of you purely by their crispness. Aside from the games story mode, there's a tower-based battle arena where you can practise your moves and earn achievements as you defeat each enemy.
Graphically this game is outstanding. The use of Source Engine modified with updated shaders, has a quality that meets, and in some cases, surpasses many commercial FPS of today. Source has never looked so good, a smart move on the developers behalf. (It's a wonder Valve hasn't taken a leaf out of Ace Team's book and updated all their Source games with the new additions to breath a little more life into it, hint hint) The original design is reminiscent of The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth and any psychadelic other-world fantasy that has been created in film or game form. The story is, however, a little bizarre and absurd. But in a good way. Put it this way, if I were to write a one line synopsis, your first reaction would be "What the hell?!?" Aside from that, its a very fun game.
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 10/10
Gameplay - 8.5/10
Total - 9/10
- Captain No-Beard (Arrgghh!) P-)