It's been a long road for the Polish development team known as
Mirage, but their rookie release of Mortyr has finally hit store
shelves, courtesy of Interplay. It all began when then publisher
Interactive Magic decided to sell their PC line-up to Ubi Soft. After
a short deliberation, Ubi Soft decided Mortyr wasn't consistent with
their 'family' oriented release schedule, so they decided to drop
the FPS from their roster. All of a sudden, Mortyr was without a
publisher. Several months passed and it didn't look like there was
any light at the end of the tunnel for Mirage, until Interplay
stepped in and decided to take on publishing duties. Why were
publishers afraid to go near Mortyr all that time? Was the game
poorly designed? Did it contain controversial material? Let's find
Mortyr is probably best described as a 3D upgrade of Wolfenstein
3D, perhaps more so than we'd like to see. It's a First Person
Shooter that focuses on thwarting the Nazis and their plans of
world domination. Muhahaha. Muhahahaha. Muhahaha. Ahhh.
The year is 2093, in an alternate future that has been shaped by
the Nazis' winning World War II through the use of a super
weapon. Luckily, a scientist has come to discover this super
weapon and dispatches his son Sebastian Mortyr, played by you,
to the past in order to disrupt the Nazi plans and change the future
and oh no I've gone cross-eyed! Worry not though, that's about as
immersed in the story as you'll get. Besides an introductory movie,
which isn't particular well done, there are absolutely no cutscenes
in the game to advance the story, nor are there any interactions
with NPCs. Instead, Sebastian will find books and journals with
entries that help progress the storyline. Interestingly enough, these
books are constantly found floating in the air above tables and
what not, because who among us doesn't have Grand 'n Toys
exciting 'hover books' to write in? Can I get a show of hands?
Ok, so it's been established that Mortyr is simply a run 'n gun
type FPS. You begin Mortyr by
breaking into a large Nazi castle, working your way through
sewers, sub pens, cemeteries, railroads, crypts and other World
War II and futuristic environments. Each environment is further
broken down into smaller 'areas' (much like Half-Life), which helps
tremendously in terms of load time. The bad news is as you
advance through each sub-level, you'll find that many of these
areas are far too similar to the previous ones. There's very little
variety in some of the sub-levels of particular environments and
even less freedom when it comes to the direction of the level.
What results is a retro-style mad dash through each level with
relatively simple objectives: Kill Nazis, Find Key, Open Door,
Rinse, Repeat. So, if you like that kind of repetitive gameplay
we've seen so many times in previous FPS, you'll probably enjoy
wandering through the world that is Mortyr. If you're looking for a
little more substance, Mortyr probably won't fill your needs.
Mortyr does feature a nice assortment of weaponry for use against
the nasty Nazis. Among them are a 9mm Parabellum and a MP-40
Schmeisser machine pistol. Since Mortyr not only takes place in
the past, but also the future, there are a plethora of futuristic
weapons as well. The Gehenna, which fires exploding bullets, and
the plasma launcher are just a couple of those fancy guns. In all,
the weaponry is well balanced and making use of particular
weapons at different ranges is very important for success.
Graphically, Mirage has put together one hell of a 3D engine here.
Beautifully detailed textures, radiant colours, coloured lighting,
particle effects (particularly the shattering glass effect), and
reflective surfaces are just a few of the features of this incredibly
fast engine. I found myself in awe wandering around some of
these rich World War II environments. They were repetitive
backgrounds at times, but they were damn great to look at.
They've also implemented a great zoom feature that is incredibly
smooth considering some of the other attempts made in FPS.
Unfortunately, the Audio components don't quite match the level
set by the graphics. Voice effects seem poorly recorded, particular
that of Sebastian Mortyr. I know the developers are Polish, but
they could have hired somebody to voice the English dialogue. In
terms of sound effects, they seem too dominant at times, if not
unrealistic. Water effects in particular are poorly done. I
wondered, at times, why I began to hear certain sound effects
when I did. In terms of weapon effects, they were all fairly
standard, if not very well done. When Nazi soldiers hear weapon
fire, or even your footsteps, they'll come wailing and charging like
a bull, even if it's not a wise choice to begin with.
The enemy AI in Mortyr is far from intelligent. Nazi soldiers
constantly run around, sometimes in circles, screaming and firing
at anything in sight. They come in droves and depending which
difficulty setting you prefer, you'll either find the game too easy, or
far too difficult. They might not be bright Nazis, but when enough
of them come running at you, at one time, accuracy isn't an issue
anymore. The only saving grace, at times, is the fact that the Nazis
seem to leave an overabundance of armour and health around. I
guess they don't like the idea of having a maid come and clean up
the place once in awhile.
And what is with the constant onslaught of documentation in the
upper left corner whenever you gain life, pick up ammunition, or
do anything else for that matter? When I pick up a few rounds for
my machine gun, I don't need to be reminded of it. That should be
taken out of the interface altogether, it only belongs there in
multiplayer games. Speaking of multiplayer, Mortyr also sports that
feature as well. Nothing earth shattering in this department
though, since only a few game selections are available. There's a
cooperative mode allowing you to kill all the Nazis with a friend,
and there's also straight deathmatch and CTF games available.
There are only a handful of maps for deathmatch however, and
the CTF is far from stellar. The Mortyr multiplayer certainly isn't
going to cut into your Q3A or Unreal Tournament playing time,
that's for sure.
And finally, before I conclude, I should touch on the settings. In
terms of graphics and sound, Mirage has made sure everything is
adjustable, so no matter whether you have a super computer or a
simple machine, everybody will get this puppy running. In terms of
control, be sure to change the keys before you begin playing. The
pre-set configuration is far from the standard set most FPS gamers
So why weren't publishers knocking on Mirage's door to publish
Mortyr quicker? Perhaps it was the gameplay that turned them off.
Mirage has done a superb job creating a 3D engine unlike many
others, and I hope they'll put it to good use on future products, but
it's clear that most of the development time was spent on that
superb engine, and not the gameplay. The old 'Kill Enemies, Find
Key, Open Door' formula is passť and the AI is far from intelligent.
The end result is what is commonly referred to as a mindless
game. If you have the ability to check your brain at the door and
just enjoy the carnage, you'll probably like playing Mortyr. If you
prefer a little more substance, there are better FPS' on the market.