At first glance, Mortyr seemed interesting. The vast majority of new first-person shooters are sci-fi based. In that sense, Interplay and Mirage deserve some credit for originality. To my knowledge, World War II has only been used as a stage once: in Wolfenstein 3D. So in a sense, it is rather refreshing to not have to clean up yet another demon-infested laboratory that has mistakenly opened a gate to hell. Unfortunately, other then its semi-intriguing premise, Mortyr has very little going for it.
I will say this: some of Mortyr's environments are very well done. In particular, the game's sense of architecture is excellent. There are quite a few environments, and all of them are fairly nicely done. Reflective surfaces are excellent. Every now and then I had to stop and gawk in various chapels throughout the game's 1940s-style levels. I also enjoyed some of the small details, such as the sound of your footsteps in the snow, the Nazi decorations (propaganda, recruiting posters and so forth) and the ricochet of bullets. Regrettably, these environments are filled with comical, blocky looking Nazis; don't even get me started on the dogs. (They move like rocking chairs.)
Then there is a bizarre fog effect that even occurs indoors. What the heck is this, a simulation of cataracts? (You'd think Sebastian Mortyr might have scrounged up some contacts). Mortyr's excellent levels are packed with graphical glitches. Apparently Nazis are capable of falling through walls after they die -- quite often, I found a pair of legs protruding from a wall. Mortyr also has no soundtrack. We're not talking about a soundtrack of any real quality; we are talking about zero, zilch, zip. Nothing but the game's various sound effects will come from your speakers. They might have at least tried.
Control is fine, with the exception of targeting. In some sort of bizarre turn of logic, Mirage decided that because the weapon isn't centered on the screen, bullets should hit to the right of the crosshair, which is centered. Doesn't this defeat the purpose of the crosshair in the first place? Thankfully, it is fixable within the game's console, but then you have to get used to a constantly moving crosshair. Even in Castle Wolfenstein we had a character that could hold the gun perfectly still for pity's sake.
In a somewhat controversial choice, Mortyr is filled with "old school" key and switch hunts. Re: That door is locked! You must find the silver key! Quite candidly, this is a poor design choice. These sorts of things may have been conventional back in the days of Wolfenstein, but all too often they can result in too much frustration. Mortyr simply isn't compelling enough to retrace your steps for heaven only knows how long looking for the one key or Quantum receptor piece that you missed.
Last, but certainly not least, Mortyr's worst sin is its laughable, "Enemies that are relentless and intelligent in their pursuit (a direct quote from the box)." Mortyr's Nazis are patio-furniture stupid. To illustrate, if you find false papers, you can use them to pass as a German officer for a short period of time. At one point in my misadventures, I used my false papers and then proceeded to butcher a half dozen SS troops in plain view of each other, as well as a handful of standard Nazis. No one fired so much as a shot in self-defense. Now, call me crazy, but I'm willing to bet the Germans didn't tolerate officers who killed their own without cause. If this is a reflection of the past, no wonder the Axis lost.
I've seen Nazis continue on their patrol while their captain gets knifed twenty feet away (no one liked him anyway) and groups of grenade troops that manage to kill each other with their own grenades. In the early levels, as long as you're not in direct line of sight, you can keep shooting at patrolling Nazis as many times as it takes. They won't miss so much as a single goose step. At one point I was standing behind a patrolling Nazi, I tried to shoot him in the back and missed. Without missing a beat, he ran after the bullet. (Now I can't say I blame him for wanting to run away, but how bright do you have to be?)
The only reason that Mortyr's Nazis are any challenge at all is their astonishingly high accuracy. When they do fire, they almost never miss; the SS will cut you down in a matter of seconds. Add in the fact that Mortyr has a tendency to use ambush points, and you'll have to save and reload a few times. (At pre-assigned points groups of Nazis will magically appear behind you. You only have to die in these places once to learn where they are, and then you can just cross the line and wait for them to "sneak up on you.")
I'm all for a little originality in terms of game design and story, but Mortyr just drops one too many passes. It belongs on the bench. I could accept blocky skins, poor control, or key and switch hunts, but all at once? The rock-stupid Nazis are unacceptable anyway you go about it. Oh well, I need some more free space on my hard drive anyway.
Graphics: Great, so long as you don't look at any of the Nazis.
Sound: Respectable sound effects, but either I'm going deaf or the rest doesn't exist.
Enjoyment: Maybe if you like watching the proverbial Nazi circus...
Replay Value: It's largely unprecedented, but if I had to take it or leave it, I'd still leave it.
People who downloaded Mortyr (2093 - 1944) have also downloaded:
Mortyr II, Pariah, Mob Enforcer, Operation: Matriarchy, No One Lives Forever 2: A Spy in H.A.R.M.'s Way, No One Lives Forever, Nitro Family, Return to Castle Wolfenstein
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