The Scorpion King: Rise of the Akkadian Review
It's been done so many times, and has consistently been executed poorly; movie to videogame conversions. Some of the worst that have gone down in the books include E.T. for the Atari 2600, Blade for the PSX, Street Fighter: The Movie, and that's only naming about a percentile. Released last April for all movie goers to attend, the prequel to the Mummy franchise has now made its way to the PS2 and Gamecube...unfortunately. The Scorpion King, the action adventure motion picture staring Dwayne Johnson a.k.a "The Rock" has been turned into a videogame -- a move that none of us saw coming (please note the heavy sarcasm). With the release of the game and after spending a torturous play session, I can confirm to you all that is by far the worst next-generation title on the market.
Visually it stands out as a first-generation PS2 title with passable texture detail, but horrendous everything else. Developer Point of View spent absolutely no time revising and cleaning out the bugs in the graphics engine, as the screen would break, the ground would flicker, weird glitchy squares would flash on the screen, and lastly the frame rate chokes when there are 3 or more characters on screen. The character models are poorly modeled, and The Rock looks like a 5-foot tall action figure, rather than the 6'5 behemoth that he is. Character texturing is downright terrible. There is absolutely nothing appealing about the models you'll come across. Everything about them is flat, boring, plain, and uninspired. To add to the list of this game's graphical drawbacks, one can also expect jaggies and flickering -- which proves my point of this being a 1st generation title at best. There's absolutely nothing redeeming about this game's visuals. If you enjoying having blood from your eyes, go on and play The Scorpion King.
The Scorpion King plays exactly how I expected it to play. When first seeing and playing the game at E3 a few months back, I knew that it was all over for the game. It played like a mess and looked like a mess. Everything about the game screamed 'crap'. I had always said that it was also arguably the worst console title on the floor, and my-oh-my was I right. In The Scorpion King you play as Mathayus, a skilled warrior who is set out by the king of the Akkadians to kill Lord Magus and prevent him from ruling the underworld and using it against Earth. It's quite a generic plot, to say the least. The game is hardly as epic and as fierce as the movie was. For those who've played, even briefly, The Mummy Returns for the PS2, expect pretty much the same deal with The Scorpion King. The game plays unbelievably bad. It's so generic and boring that no sane gamer would even keep the DVD rotating for more than 10 to 15 minutes, tops. You can utilize either weaponry or engage in fisticuffs, but seeing as how terrible the fighting system in the game is, you wouldn't want to do either. Instead, the best thing to do with with the game is go out into a wide park, or a wide open area, and shoot the disk from a disk shooter to see how far it goes. Do either that, or melt the DVD and enjoy a cool show. Then again, one must own the game in order to do any of the above. So with my recommendation and my care for you, the gamer, stay the hell away from this game. Frankly, The Scorpion King is the perfect example of a decent movie license being turned into trashy software that took no more than a few months to spit out and code.
The voice acting was a pretty obvious bit about The Scorpion King, and it would be no secret that The Rock would have to contribute his voice. As much as I think he's a talented performer (to those scoffing: I've seen him sing Sinatra and he's damn good) this game just does not do him justice. The dialogue randomly gets cut off, sounds scratchy, and is worst of all muffled beyond belief. If it wasn't for the subtitles, I would not understand a single word that is being spoken. There is a soundtrack, but it's nothing memorable, and can best be described as 'ho-hum'. With that said, rest assured that the sound is no better than the rest of the game. It's glitchy and features some terrible sound quality -- certainly something that we shouldn't be seeing anymore in this era of gaming.
Scorpion King's controls are every bit of a joke as the rest of the game is. The controls are clunky with poor action responses, and just when you thought it couldn't get worse, it does. The camera has a habit of drifting off and becoming a nuisance. Aside from that, picking up and throwing objects at enemies requires the gamer to actually set the camera and the character straight so that you have a chance of hitting the enemy. In most cases you will miss, because of the lack of a lock-on feature for both throwing and actual combat. Controlling Mathayus feels very dull. He doesn't move as smoothly and elegantly as Solid Snake does, or as Ico does, or as Jak (from Jak and Daxter) does. Mathayus just moves like a brick with feet. Though, having read this much, did you really expect anything else from the game?
Point of View clearly knew what they were working with. This is a popular movie license that would sell regardless of how the game looked and played. They took advantage of the license, and that's about all. The Scorpion King is a terrible piece of software that does absolutely no justice to the movie. If you want an adventure title that has a barbaric character, and is actually incredibly good, go for Sony's The Mark of Kri. The Mark of Kri is the ideal game for those disappointed with The Scorpion King's outcome -- and that pretty much accounts for every poor sap that actually forked over fifty bones for this beer bottle coaster. But hey, at least Vivendi pretty much acknowledges that the game is terrible; why else would they include a free Scorpion King skateboard sticker? The final word is, forget The Scorpion King, and buy The Mark of Kri. Plus you save ten bucks and you go home with one of the best PS2 titles of the year.
9/16/2002 Arnold Katayev