games come in many different flavors: real-time, turn-based, role-playing,
puzzle/strategy, etc. Thanks to two significant, highly innovative games (Pikmin
and Full Spectrum Warrior) the genre has begun to get attention from all
gamers, not just those who are glued to their PCs.
foray into strategic gaming, Trapt, seems like it came out of nowhere with
Dead or Alive 4 garnering every bit of hype available. This PlayStation 2
release is vastly different from the strategy games we’re used to, playing
like a third-person shooter without any of the guns or any of the shooting.
You plant traps – up to three at a time – and wait for your enemies to fall
into their devious illusion. Actually you’re supposed to monitor the area and
plant the traps based on your enemy’s level of stupidity. I mean their level
of movement, which is generally predictable and easily avoidable.
third-person controls and traditional 3D environments further separate the
game from other strategy titles. Although the gameplay is in real-time, traps
are set up via a grid and a menu screen that freezes the action until you’re
ready to continue. It would’ve been exciting to see how frantic the battles
would be if trap selection was in real-time as well, but I have no complaints
in this department.
looks typical, but unlike other strategy games, players (and enemies) can move
anywhere they want. You’re not limited to the square placement that your traps
are limited to, and you never, ever have to wait for an opponent to take
action before you can.
clever and are twice as much fun to execute as they are to plant. Traps fall
into one of three categories: wall, floor, or ceiling. Floor traps are
integral in blasting your opponents out of the way. Wall traps strike from
whichever wall the trap has been placed, shooting projectiles and may also be
used to pull the enemy in for a brief suspension. Likewise, there are floor
traps that do the same thing (with more damage!). Ceiling traps drop bombs and
other wonderful things down on the world, crushing you, your opponents, and
anything else crazy enough to be standing in the falling object’s path.
Players don’t get a handicap of any sort. If a trap can harm an enemy it can
also harm you.
trap execution difficult at times. Traps are not triggered by enemies walking
through a laser or by tripping a wire. Players must execute the traps
themselves by pressing either the wall (square ), floor (X), or ceiling
(triangle) button. I like it better this way – it allows me to be in charge of
when and where my enemies will be damaged.
allows me to build combos, which is where the game really gets interesting.
Only three traps are allowed to be set at a time (one from each category), but
you may exchange the trap mid-combo to create additional hits. Suppose I set
up a floor trap (a bomb) that blasts your opponent back a few feet. Having
anticipated this would happen, I placed a ceiling trap directly above where I
thought the opponent was likely to land. I also placed a wall trap within his
range. I wait for him to start to get up, then fire the wall trap before he’s
standing. Each successful hit results in temporary paralysis. While the enemy
is stunned it’s time to push the triangle button until* the ceiling trap is
released. Three hits!
further I would have needed to be paying close attention and quickly change
each trap, or at least one of the traps, as soon as possible. Traps have a
delay effect and cannot be exchanged immediately after being executed. They
also have a meter that regulates how often you can execute each trap. The
meter is based on time and must be completely re-filled before a trap can be
executed after it’s been planted. The same goes for traps that have been
switched. Any time you do anything on the trap selection screen, the trap
altered, either moved or exchanged, will have to re-fill itself.
*Trapt is a
bit unresponsive at times. Most PS2 games respond to light button taps. At
times it felt like Trapt was built for pressure-sensitive control, as if I had
to push the button as hard as possible for the game to pick it up. Considering
that there is no mention of this anywhere in the game, I’m convinced this is a
technical flaw and was not intentional.
technical flaws, what is the slowdown all about? The game is slow enough. You
barely have the option to run. The entire game could be summed up as being a
wait and see RTS, minus the units, weaponry, massive battles and large
Yet when I
strike more than one enemy at a time, the game feels the need to slow down to
a snail-like pace. We’re talking well below 15 frames per second. No, I didn’t
count them, but I know what 30fps looks like, and I know what 20 looks like,
and this game wasn’t hitting either mark.
as interesting as some of them are, are rehashed several times before you get
to explore a new environment. "Explore" might be too big of a word. "Look
around" might be a better explanation. There isn’t much to them. Four walls,
some stairs, a few objects and not much else. Enemies come through the only
open door in the level, and if you walk through it you’ll find another room.
With another four walls. And likely more stairs…
don’t differ much in appearance or in the way they attack. More often than not
your opponents will follow wherever you go, allowing you to set up the perfect
trap. Or they go in the opposite direction because they believe that coming in
from the other side will make a difference. The camera is movable, I can see
all areas of the room! Silly enemies. They thought this was reality.
attacks include the standing still sword strike (easily avoidable). The
dashing sword strike (easy to avoid as long as you turn off the treacherous
voice track that accompanies this move every time the character performs it).
The standing still arrow shot (the only time you won’t dodge these is when
you’re distracted. Not a frequent occurrence). And finally, magic spells. The
spells are quite deadly and provide the biggest challenge in the game, but
there’s a simple way to avoid almost all of them.
conceptually brilliant, Trapt doesn’t have the nuts and bolts necessary to
make it the must-have, innovative game it could have been. It’s got a lot
going for it, but with the exception of gamers like myself (those who love
strategy games as a whole, and appreciate new and unique ideas), most will be
bored stiff. Don’t be fooled by its thriller and survival/horror appearance. A
scary adventure this is not.
redefined! The innovative, highly creative ideas are great, but how many times
can a game expect us to do the same thing before we get bored? The death
sequences are a bore – do I really need to witness every enemy die in a
similar fashion? The game takes you out of the action to show death sequences,
among other things. They would’ve been better off using picture-in-picture and
keep the gameplay flow going.
We’re going back
in time it seems. More and more brand-new PS2 releases are looking like PS2
launch titles. Bland backgrounds, stiff character animation, weak explosions –
just because the next-gen is upon us doesn’t mean the current-gen consoles are
weak. Why let all that power go to waste?
Forget about it.
The music is generic, which I can live with, but the rehashed sayings drove me
nuts. They annoyed me so much that I could not progress until I turned the
strategy game before it. Trapt controls like a slow third-person action game
but has very little action. It’s more about following your enemies and waiting
for them to approach. Studying their patterns allows you to place your traps
in the optimal locations; luring them into a multi-trap attack is the most fun
you’ll have with the game.
experiment for the developers; not necessarily a worthwhile experiment for
gamers. Trapt is clever, innovative, and left a lasting impression. I won’t
forget its accomplishments. I wish I could overlook its flaws, but the
repetition is immense and the technical issues are inexcusable.