Playing the Medal Wars demo is a lot like being trapped inside a British seaside postcard. It’s an isometric sort-of shooter, in which you play an Green Army recruit seemingly single-handedly completing missions against the enemy Black Army. But with hilarious japes and comedy references throughout! Trousers fall down! There are farty noises! And ladies have boobies!
Fixing its sense of humour somewhere south of Carry On Columbus, it’s such a peculiarly anachronistic thing. If games were made on the ends of piers, this would be the result. (In fact it was made in Edinburgh, but worry not, that doesn’t make it afraid to include lots of waaaaacky Scottish stereotypes.) And as such, it becomes quite a fascinatingly odd thing to play.
Although let’s not get carried away – it’s not particularly good in any way. As a shooter it struggles with crummily putting ‘fire’ and ‘move’ on the same button without a Shift or similar to keep you on the spot, because there haven’t been decades of examples of why that’s never a good idea. It’s also fixed to very low resolutions, and then zoomed far too close in. With a fixed camera, when you’re asked to move down the screen enemies appear from below the mess of clumsy screen clutter by the time they’re stood right next to you. Shooting feels incredibly clumsy. Despite its offering headshots and “footshots”, the targeting reticule is so enormous that there’s no sense of precision. And most of all, it’s just pretty boring to shoot your way through.
But what’s impressive is its commitment to its misfiring jokes. Every time you shoot any enemy his trousers fall down. Every time. Each time you visit a shop or upgrade hut you have to click through the very same lines of dialogue. And best of all, every time you enter the HQ tent you can be assured you’ll make the same reference to the officer’s breasts. Familiar like a stinking old jumper you left in the garden shed.
There’s a fair amount of game in the demo, although I quickly tired of it. At random points you’ll suddenly be overwhelmed by enemies who can wipe out your health very quickly, while elsewhere there’s no sense of threat at all. That all or nothing approach tends to only lead to frustration. Still though – if your constant lament is that videogames don’t remind you enough of the Russ Abbot Show, this is the one for you!