5th March 2011 - It feels a lot like the popular LEGO platformers series at first, and has a very similar style of control and perspective. But don’t be tricked by such similarities, this EA-Developed platformer is a long way off the quality of the of those heavily original series’.
First and foremost, Spare Parts doesn’t hide that the game is developed with a strong sense of co-operative play in mind. The puzzles, the combat, and basically the whole game is a lot more enjoyable with a friend than it is on your lonesome. And with that said, I have to add this was my most appreciated aspect of the game, as im a heavy supporter of co-op, especially that of the split/same-screen rather than the now-standard online. But well designed co-operative mechanics can only carry a game so far.
This was a rather hyped game for a XBLA title, being it developed and backed by one of the worlds leading game companies. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons that once I got my hands on the game, I found myself disappointed with what I was being delivered. As a platformer, Spare Parts fails to inspire thought or pride in conquering the bland puzzles and so-called challenges it throws your way, resulting in some very uninspired sets and missions. This could most likely be due to the fact that the game overall feels like its designed for kids to play, with such ease in overcoming each and every mission.
While I can respect a developer catering to a young audience, there was nothing here for me to sink my teeth into when compared to most top-line ‘kids’ games, like the previously mentioned LEGO titles, or the Playstation’s landmark Ratchet & Clank series.
Even the combat in this game is a tad too simple. While it gives you some basic combo’s and manoeuvres at first which give off a false sense of complexity, you will soon learn that that is as far as it wants to go, with only simple and context sensitive unique and new ‘powers’ to be gained through play.
Perhaps the only real original side to this game is its style. By this I mean the overall style of science fiction and lore it harbours. From the little things like details of characters to the overall environments, Spare Parts is actually quite the nice-looking game. For an arcade title, it has some very smooth animation and detail in interactivity, made all the better by one of the better science fiction universes seen in a small game like this. Of course, its not on par with the likes of Enslaved, but like I said, for a relatively small game, Spare Parts looks pretty special.
Awesomely, Spare Parts features someone not unfamiliar with the voice acting circuit, in the always great Simon Pegg - having recently exercised his cords in last years Fable III - as the voice for the games ship, which acts as home base, training grounds and main hub. He manages to pull off the Hal-9000 type voice rather perfectly, bringing some more experience and light to the humour the game tries a little too hard to express.
British comic-hero aside though, and Spare Parts is quite plain here. Nothing too great, but it doesn’t fail at setting the scene for contemporary science fiction in the audio department.
I mostly played this game co-operatively, only dabbling in the single-player when the primary was not an option. From that experience, I can say this game would have in no way been worth it to play through alone. Even with a friend, the game is still by little means good, but just more bearable and laughable. If you don’t have someone to give this a romp through with, than I really couldn’t recommend it, and must say that even with a buddy, this should only be for if that buddy happens to be a child or if you just really want to be play together. There are far better co-op experiences available.
Spare Parts was a good effort, ill give it that much. But good pacing and some pretty colours cant save an otherwise uninspired and somewhat repetitive platformer relying a little too heavily on co-op when it should have been focusing energy into giving the players some more thoughtful puzzles and combat. For younger audiences, this will be a delight, but surely not one for anyone who needs a bit of brain exercise or challenge in their platformers.
AAG SCORE: 4.5/10
+ Good co-operative gameplay
+ Looks pretty neat
+ Simon Pegg is great
- Repetitive combat experience
- Bland and simple puzzles
- Bad camera and controls
Reviewed and Written By John Elliott