Mob Ties Tokyo Demo: Even School Ties Are Better

By Kieron Gillen on March 23rd, 2009 at 11:07 am.

A first person shooter demo. Which is just over 80Mb in size. “Wow,” you may think. That’s incredible. When most demos take up a gig, for someone to release a game of such a tiny size implies they’re the sort of developer who has side-stepped the expectations of the genre and forged their own unique experience from first principles. You can just tell it’s going to be a triumph to be filled alongside Darwinia, World of Goo and Braid. Alternatively, it could just be shit.

Let’s play it and find out, eh?

You know you’re in store for something really special when you hit the start screen. Have a look at this baby, and tell me what’s wrong.

No, not the art style or anything as stupidly subjective as that. What’s missing?

Yup, an “Options” menu. Mob Ties is clearly a one-size-fits-all-sort of game. And, yes, that also means that you can’t reverse the mouse-look. Clearly with some trepidation I started the game, wondering whether the default setting would allow me to play without spending the entire alternating between looking at the floor and ceiling. Also, whether I’d be able to work out what the controls were. Some manner of in-game tutorial, I’d imagine.

Though it seems Mob Ties is ahead of me for once, with some Valve-beating corridor-shooter eye-direction-leading skills. This is how it starts…

Now, see how my eye is guided softly towards the right of the screen by the enormous pile of guns you can pick up. And when you do so, what’s this?

Why isn’t it an elegant in-game tutorial.

Knowledge thoroughly deseminated and the fact my non-inversed mouse-controls is the default, I headed along and start by my contract – who appears to contact me via a PSP – telling me to climb through a grate. Clearly, that’s the Deus Ex influence showing. What follows is the sort of shooting which is so old-school it was actually prior to the establishment of a formal education system. Running around a maze of grey-corridors, I come across baddies – on two occasions, more than one – and shoot them with the guns the game’s so generously given me at the start. Keys are found. Doors are unlocked with said keys – though it doesn’t actually tell you have the key in question when you bump into ‘em and so on.

But the highlight was the AI. Each of the first four opponents demonstrated a hilarious flaw, as if expertly positioned by the designers to highlight the weaknesses in the game. I mean, it’s a demo. Clearly, the demo should show what the full game is about in the quickest way possible. Well done them. Anyway, here’s the ones…

1) Trundling along the air-vent, I approach the exit. A guy is running around the room, heading to the corner, full alert. There doesn’t appear to be a stealth model. If you’re within a radius of the enemy, they’re aware of your presence. However, the flip side to that…
2) Well, see this guy?

Good. Because he doesn’t see me. And I’ve been shooting him in the head with my revolver. Each slug makes him fall over identically. He stops, get back up and continues to stand there, as if entirely happy with his role in life is as a bullet depository. He knows his place.
3) I start motoring, wanting to punch people with the knuckle-dusters – which make the kung-fu impact noise every time you throw a punch, whether it impacts or not – and find if you approach an enemy, the first thing they do is load their guns. You have to admire the safety-conciousness of the henchmen, keeping their weapons unloaded in case of accidental discharge. These things hurt people, y’know?
4) The fourth one appears gets trapped behind the scenery. When I saw 1) disappearing behind something and then sidestepping out, I thought perhaps it actually had some nifty taking cover stuff. This makes me suspect it’s more the character sidesteps randomly and sometimes that happens to take them out the way.

So, I’m approaching the end of the level – or I presume I am, as there’s no sense of progress in these dull corridors – and realise something else. Despite being made in a 3D engine, the game’s as flat as Wolfenstein 3D. Do the designers not know how to construct such things? Can the engine not handle it? Nope – they were just lulling me into a false sense of security. The second level starts and…

STAIRS! Fuck yeah!

In fact, three sets of them. You wait for ages and… oh, you know. I continue onwards and discover… a cut-scene. Christ! This is amazing! Hell, they’re motoring now. Whatever next? The end of the demo. Oh, the teases. They know when to leave us wanting more.

Mob Ties Tokyo can be bought for $14.95 for the teen rated game or $19.95 for the Mature rated game. Those five dollars buy you Partial Nudity, apparently. Or just share in my joy and play the demo here.

It’s certainly memorable.

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43 Comments »

  1. schizoslayer says:

    Back in 1995 Amiga owners would have killed for this game.

    Although not at 80meg. That we managed to get Alien Breed 3D onto a few floppy disks and that it was better made should hammer home the point.

  2. Ian says:

    This sounds so hilariously pants I might just have to give it a go.

  3. nabeel says:

    STAIRS! Fuck yeah!

  4. BarkingDog says:

    I like the notation next to C- (Use this if you feel you are stuck and can’t move)
    If only C worked in real life. IF ONLY.

  5. teo says:

    why do they even bother? It has to be a joke
    I made better maps when I was 13

  6. clive dunn says:

    Our first true Game Of The Year contender!

    Seriously though, how many units will a game as cruddy as this sell? Are there enough fools out there to make it financially viable to just spend of few weeks putting together a duffer like this? Dammit i know virtually nothing about anything but i could probably make a better game than this.

    How about an article where these programmers are actually tracked down and interviewed and their justicifications and motives are explored? Maybe they just need our help to move into another field which more suits their skill-base. I’m currently looking for someone to bag up and dispose of all the dog-shit that i have dodge on my walk to work!

  7. Legandir says:

    That looks like it was made in FPS Creator. The menus are almost the exact same as the default FPS Creator menus, the way the red light hits the gun is the same as FPS Creator, the models look the same as FPS Creator.

  8. Kieron Gillen says:

    You know, when people say “How can you give XYZ mainstream game 6/10? It deserves a 2 out of 10″ it’s because they don’t play this kind of shit. People have little idea how bad “bad2 actually is.

    Thankfully.

    Legandir: Ooh. Good call.

    KG

  9. jon_hill987 says:

    Wow. Looks like they took the bast parts of Deus Ex and Half-Life and combined them into one game!

    Seriously though, I hope not to many people buy this, it looks like it gives video games a bad name, imagine if it was the fist FPS they have played? would you play another after that?. Though if they buy it on the promise of “Partial Nudity” they probably deserve a bad game.

  10. Physalis says:

    Oh, I shouldn’t snark, but… but… have you read the FAQ? It’s so precious! The ability to save your games, for later play, is listed as a Feature! Aw, bless.

  11. MeestaNob! says:

    Considering a purchase, any SecuROM etc?

    (is ejected from RPS forever)

  12. bansama says:

    I find the Japanese in the menu rather amusing. But that’s about the extent of my interest.

  13. Dave Gates says:

    When I first saw this article I thought it said 800mb, to which I though, “ooh, that is rather small in comparison to most”. Having seen that it is infact 80mbs I am currently downloading it for pure shits and giggles, I shall report my methane laced findings later.

  14. Dominic White says:

    Well, this goes to prove nicely that just because you’re indie, it doesn’t mean that you’re worth a damn.

    So now I will hijack this thread with an indie FPS/Adventure (think System Shock + Myst-esque puzzles) that is actually worth a damn. It also costs $16, and has a lengthy demo that weighs in at a mere 43mb. It might even be worth talking about.

    http://db.tigsource.com/games/tecno-the-base
    (Trailers on the games official site)

    More impressively, it was made by only one guy, using BlitzBasic, the same budget-priced development platform used by previous RPS covered game Tank Universal.

    Try it. It’ll wash the flavour of Mob Ties out of your mouth.

    One little technical note: For some reason it defaults to 16-bit colour, which looks weird. Just edit the settings.ini file in the demo/game directory and change ‘Colour_Depth = 16′ to 32.

  15. Heliocentric says:

    The game suffered no crashes that you mentioned, you didnt get stuck and you were entertained. Also the tutorial did not interfer with the flow of the game.

    7/10

  16. hydra9 says:

    Yeah, Tecno: The Base (despite its crap title) is really impressive. The thing that unfortunately killed it for me was confusing puzzles and respawning enemies. But I still dug the style enough to e-mail the author and tell him I’d buy it with a couple of fixes.

  17. DigitalSignalX says:

    Thank you RPS for reminding us that for every polished gem there must be a bucket of driveway pebbles. Covered with dirt and mud.

  18. Dominic White says:

    hydra9: The puzzles actually get more logical after the first level, and more traditionally adventure game-ish. As for the enemies, I thought I’d hate it, but given that ammo/health respawn as well, it stops me from feeling horribly lonely (and safe) when I did get stuck.

    I may be alone in this, but if I’m going to be running in circles, I’d rather be blowing stuff up while doing so, rather than feeling entirely forgotten and lost.

    The combat gets better after the demo as well, as the game perspective-shifts to a security officer, who starts out with a quite controllable SMG.

  19. Dominic White says:

    Then again, I am apparently a gaming pariah. I LIKED having respawning enemies in System Shock 2, as it ensured things stayed intense.

  20. Malagate says:

    For 5 extra of your capitalist pig-dog dollars, I could get partial nudity, in an electro-nomic vide-o-game? The sweet bluriness of poorly rendered square nipples await!

    Yeah, I might just avoid this, even more than I would avoid a hentai game based around RPS fan fiction (at least until Leigh gives it a glowing review).

  21. Über Nerd says:

    SS2 respawns are sometimes ultra punishing. Died while alarms are ringing? Is there a suciding jihad-bot dispenser nearby the respawner? You are fucked. It extra sucks in Co-Op if everyone manages to die at the same spot…

  22. CdrJameson says:

    > Back in 1995 Amiga owners would have killed for this game.

    They also wouldn’t have been shocked at the NPCs having to load their guns before attacking. Both Laser Squad and Sabre Team think its a good plan to send you into battle without first combining bullet with gun.

    Oh, and I love the way the in-game tutorial continues the modern trend of Dead Space and Far Cry 2 of including supplementary information into the world, thus not breaking the immersion.

  23. Xercies says:

    This is probably something I would be able to make. In FPS Creator, probably with no programming skills at all. I’m sure the guy who made it feels proud. Though i wouldn’t pay for it.

  24. schizoslayer says:

    I can confirm that it is indeed FPS Creator as all the guns are from Model Pack #10!

    http://www.fpscreator.com/pack10.html

  25. EvaUnit02 says:

    http://mobtiesgame.com/screenshots/mtt03.jpg

    Heh, looks like Joanna Dark.

  26. The_B says:

    You totally nicked this idea from Chris Livingston’s demoman feature.

    I heartily approve! :P

  27. Tei says:

    @CdrJameson: hahaha… in-game tutorial

  28. Barky says:

    Is that Tokyo? You’re kidding me, right?

  29. SlappyBag says:

    The first screen of the sniper scope makes it look much better than it actually is – lol.

  30. clovus says:

    Can you explain the mouse-invert thing? I’m guessing, by default in this game, when I move the mouse forward the camera will pan upwards. Do you want it to pan downwards? I find this very confusing. In an FPS with a mouse I think of the aiming reticule as the pointer. So I move the mouse the direction I want the pointer to go. How do you switch from FPS mousing to normal mousing? Or is the game actually inversed?

    OTOH, if I am playing with a gamepad, I absolutely need to have the Y-Axis inverted. I think of the analog stick as a yoke. If I pull “back” on it, the camera should pan upwards, just like if I was flying a plane (I also tend to die at some point, just like if I was flying a plane). My little brother thinks that this is completely insane. Apparently most gamers think this is somewhat insane, as most console first person games seem to be set with Y-Axis invert as OFF by default. I don’t play consoles much, but does this even hold true for games where you fly a plane??

    Another strange thing, in games involving a skateboard, I need the X-axis inverted. What’s wrong with me? Does anyone play FPSs with the X-axis inverted?? I’ve seen that as on option before….

  31. Dominic White says:

    clovus: Have you somehow not noticed the ‘invert Y axis’ option in EVERY FPS EVER MADE? Never even clicked it to see what it does?

  32. Larry says:

    I play my games with inverted axis. It’s just because my first game (Half – Life) had the last setting my brother used which was inverted. :)

  33. clovus says:

    @Dominic: Wha? I would guess that it inverts the Y axis. I was just trying to say, in a hopefully funny way, that I find it strange that people would use that with a mouse. BTW, I actually haven’t noticed whether or not most computer FPSs actually include this option, since I would never use it; I would be staring at ceilings and floors like Keiron said. I also meant to ask what this game did by default. Didn’t the rest of my comment indicate that I knew what it did?

  34. Jaxtrasi says:

    “actually haven’t noticed whether or not most computer FPSs actually include this option, since I would never use it”

    Most do.

    Neuro Hunter, I discovered to my disgust last night, doesn’t.

    The only game I’ve ever played which justified it was Hostile Waters. That doesn’t mean it’s not hopelessly unacceptable not to allow it.

  35. Dave Gates says:

    Well i’ve just completed this demo and I’m speechless. Every so often a game comes along and flies above any traditional hyporbole. I’m not sure if it was the first time I saw an enemy slide across the floor without moving his feet or when I walked up to read instructions on the wall and was killed suddenly, a clever comment on the transitory nature of existence maybe, a grim reminder of our mortality at the very least. The weapons superlative, the script inspired; I cannot honestly think of a word to describe this game. Indeed maybe it is the first of a new breed of post modern games, ala an overly self concious Ed Wood, which forces the gamer to accept its broken nature as part of its beauty. A broken mirror giving us a shattered image of ourselves. Words do not exist to describe this game, it is impossible to use any phrase that we hear currently to describe its many complex messages. Let me coin the phrase then, shitcrapballbolltittacular. I think that sums it up. Download this, revel in its magesty, and then get checked for hepatitis, it is so bad you’re going to have to make sure you haven’t caught it.

  36. Dave Gates says:

    oh an incidentaly the ending is absolutely stunning. A fantastic exercise in underplaying and even contradicting the punchline ethics of conclusions. It was very similar to the fart sound and the word “fin” that you used to get at the end of Eurotrash sketches. Beautiful.

  37. Dave Gates says:

    *and that should be hyperboyle.

  38. Markoff Chaney says:

    Bah. I get mad if a FPS won’t let me remap LMB to forward and RMB to back (You may have been decent Clive Barker’s second game, I’ll never know, thank you demo!). I’ll have to try this out if for no other reason than to uninstall it right after I check out that awesome in game tutorial.

    I also wanted to express gratitude for the tip for Tecno – The Base. I’ll have to check that out tonight. It, at least, piqued my interest.

  39. Dave Gates says:

    As I final comment, Techno is very good indeed, download and love it. Looking Glass lives in all our hearts.

  40. Dominic White says:

    Seriously, one of your RPS writer-type blokeys should do a frontpage piece on… well, the title itself even seems a bit wonky – it’s either Tecno: The Base or Tecnobase or whatever.

    Guess it’s because the developers first language isn’t english, I suppose. The in-game writing is fine though. Pity nobody but me (and apparently 2-3 other guys who read TIGSource) know about it.

    Anyway, it’s really worth the money, in my opinion. It strikes a quite nice balance between slightly retro exploration, collection and shooting, but proper point-and-click style adventurey puzzleyness.

    Oh, and I expect people will get stuck on the demo, so I’ll say two things: There’s a shotgun on the floor you start on, in a storeroom. You’ll want that. The area map is essential as well, as it might show some things that you’d not normally see. Like vent shafts.

  41. DarkNoghri says:

    @clovus

    I’m exactly the same way (minus the X-axis inversion, weirdo :P). PC shooters, moving the mouse forward should make the pointer go up. Joystick/Joypad, moving the stick forward should make the pointer go down. I think this probably has to do with my console gaming roots in Perfect Dark/Goldeneye, as well as playing too much Tie Fighter.

    Heck, that’s actually the reason I always used Legacy controls on Halo. Because that’s what Perfect Dark had.

  42. Alan Au says:

    I actually went through the long and tedious exercise of retraining myself to use non-inverted controls after spending several hours playing a game for review, one which didn’t give you the invert-y-axis option.

  43. lumpi says:

    It’s a parody… right?