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KISS Psycho Circus
Platform:  Windows
# of Players:  1
Developer:  Third Law
Publisher:  Gathering Developers
Features:  Multiplayer Deathmatch for up to 16
Ratings:  Mature
Memory Req.:  64 MB RAM 350 MB Hard Drive
Wanna be like KISS? Apparently all you need to emulate this famous rock band is some flashy threads, a bit of musical giftedness, some makeup, and a hellava lotta…weapons? According to the new game from Third Law based on the Psycho Circus album and tour, you too can become exactly like the famous band while blasting a bunch of baddies along the way. Actually the game is a lot more intense than I am making it out to be. As seemingly silly as the concept is, the game itself provides everything that you love about 1st person shooters, and some things that you have never seen before.
The game tells the story of four elders (guess who they are) who spirits have been shattered and spread among three worlds by an evil known as the Destroyer. You play the part of an up and coming rock band that also has four members who have been lured into the Psycho Circus by a old crazy gypsy lady in order to find the remnants of the elders and bring them back. Sure that may sound a little fantastical but to keep it credible the worlds have been packed with strange and vicious demons to hinder your quest. The artifacts that you must find to restore the power of the spirits are parts of the elders’ costumes and weapons. Each piece that is acquired provide your character with enhanced power. For example the boots give the character enhanced jumping ability. The goal is too get all of the parts and defeat the Destroyer before he can put his spirit in a child. Think Quake 3 meets Ghostbusters 2.
Since there are four members of the band, and four character quests, naturally there are four stages each with its own theme. They may be completed in any order but the game is meant to be played in a certain way. One storyline follows another and the levels get more and more difficult as you progress. Paul Stanley’s water level does not have nearly as much difficulty as the jaunt through Gene Simmons’ fire realm, for example. Upon looking at screenshots, one might think that the levels are all the same with different colors, but in fact each level has a very distinct feel to it and all require different strategy. Sitting tight and shooting will work well in one level whereas your best strategy in another is too run as fast and as safely as possible.
What separates this game from the other Quake 3 engine games is the sheer amount of enemies on the screen at once. There is a setting to control the number of enemies in any given stage and when this is cranked up, look out. Plus, each enemy has a very unique attacking style. There are the dumb minions that will get close and attack with their big claws, and these big gas-balloon creatures that float around in the air farting on you from above. One of the best designs has to be the bats, which travel in big packs but are able to be hit individually. So, if you shoot at the swarm flying overhead, you will see the ones that you hit fall to the ground.
One feature that I really liked in the way of strategy is the weapon design. Instead of just having the same basic weapon repeated over and over in increasing strengths the weapons are designed for certain situations. Some are better one on one and some work for a group. Each player has a blade or in Ace Frehley’s case electric gloves that are handy (pun intended) for close-up battles, and other weapons are so explosive that they must be fired from a distance. It really makes you hit the number keys to change weapons quite a bit.
The level design of the game fits in well with the theme. All of the areas have a sort of gothic mid-evil feel to them with a touch of modern urbania. Since this is on the Quake 3 engine you can expect to do some swimming, jumping, and climbing. Just when you think that the levels are all beginning to look the same, the game will throw in something really strange like an oversized library where you have to fight an army on top of some hardbound books. The one thing that I did not see in the levels was much of any rock and roll influence. Sure in one of the rooms there is a jukebox that plays only KISS songs but that was about it. After a while of wandering in the back streets I was beginning to wonder what this had to do with KISS at all. Aside from the costumes and some of the enemies the KISS influence was minimal.
Still, this is a kick-ass game. Full of hard-core bloody action, great gory disgusting enemies and non-stop excitement, this game will surely be a must have for those who are fans of the genre. Though the enemies are relentless, and very difficult at times, it definitely beats the alternative of being too easy. Even with all of these features, let’s be honest. You are gonna want the game because how many games allow you to become KISS, or any rock star for that matter? None. I am just thankful there is a solid game behind this concept.

Chris Shade

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