Monday, December 12, 2011

Game Review: Ethnic Cleansing

Ethnic Cleansing
  • Publisher: Resistance Records
  • Developer: Resistance Records
  • Release: PC, 21 January 2002
  • Genre: Action, First-Person
  • Players: 1
  • Rarity/Cost: Direct order / US$15 and your immortal soul

DISCLAIMER:  The following review contains discussions of race and racism.  The Strawberry Dragon Project does not advocate racial or any other form of discrimination, and as such does not share nor advocate the views of any and all persons involved in the creation of the product being reviewed, including but not limited to Resistance Records and the National Alliance.

With a disclaimer like that, you know you're in for some serious shizzle.

One thing that strikes me as odd when comparing other nations' video game ratings systems to the North American ESRB is that, unlike the ESRB, some systems have concept descriptors for portrayals of discrimination or racism in video games.  Ironically, you would think this would be of greater concern in America, where we've been struggling with the issue of civil rights over at least the past century, but then again, the Holocaust is probably still fresh in Europeans' minds as well.  Which brings me to my next point: neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan.  They exist.  For people from this generation, who may be living a sheltered life in this respect, there are people who, for whatever self-professed "justification", believe in hatred of Africans, the Jewish, what-have-you.  And wouldn't you know it, someone made a computer game for these kinds of people.

Enter Resistance Records, a music label specialising in white supremacy and neo-Nazi themed punk and such, who developed and self-published the PC game Ethnic Cleansing in 2002.  Just that sentence alone should raise a red flag immediately: namely, we don't let companies that deal in music make their own video games.  What is this, 1981?  Now, I know what you're thinking, but as a journalist, I am "legally" obligated to state that everyone is entitled to have and express their own opinions, as provided by the First Amendment and all that jazz.  After all, I am sensitive about infrigements on this personal right, so I'd be a hypocrite if I denied others from doing the same, amirite?  Moving on.

The plot for this first-person shooter is thin and silly, although those select few who share the developers' *ahem* beliefs probably won't care.  Basically, you start out fighting an African-American gang in some ghetto neighbourhood somewhere, then break into the subway and encounter an alleged Jewish plot to take over the world in eight years' time - in other words, 2010.  ...Yeah, who's got the last laugh now, bub?  Note that all this is done in the span of only two levels.  And they're not long, either; if you know what you're doing, you can count the number of minutes it takes to finish this game on your fingers.  The boss of the first level, the gang leader whose name... rhymes with "Big Digz", is ridiculously easy to beat, given that he can't shoot past the two-foot table in front of him, whereas the final boss, former Israeli president Ariel Sharon, takes a frustratingly large amount of bulltes to bring down.  Plus, not only does this make the whole game seem like a bad fanfic come to life, but just a few years after the game's release, Sharon would seek more peacable relations with Palestine and his nation's other rivals.  Again, last laugh: not you.

The enemies you face can be divvied up into three categories: 1) Africans, who sometimes wear shirts with the N-word on them (Yeah, I doubt even real gang-bangers would throw around that word so casually) and make monkey noises when shot.  2) Hispanics, decked out in poncho/sombrero ensembles, who revive themselves a couple of minutes after going down because they were "only taking a siesta".  3) Jews, wearing full Hasidic regalia and saying "oy vey" upon death.  ...Now that I think about it, this game doesn't have any portrayals, insulting or otherwise, of Asians, homosexuals, Arabs... I could go on.  So not only is the content horribly debasing racism, it's not even complete racism!  ...I'm just saying.  Not that you'll hear their clips anyway, since the sound is so unbalanced that your gunshots will drown out everything else coming from your speakers.  Oh, and I hope you like that white-power-punk in all its hate-filled glory, since the volume control in the game's options doesn't work, nor does the ability to re-map the controls.  (Just for kicks, I replaced the music with the worst song I could think of - "Anime" by Soulja Boy Tell'Em.)

Eventually, the icky subject matter will get shoved to the back of your mind once you register how horribly this game runs and plays.  For one, the collision detection is simply atrocious.  You'll get snagged on walls at the slightest brush, which becomes a problem in the second level with its narrow passages.  You only get to use one gun throughout the entire game, but it hardly ever runs out of ammo (if the unintuitive HUD gauges are to be believed).  The draw distance only lets you see a few meters in front of you - despite the fact that all the character models are low-polygon toys with racist features, and have little to no animation.  And the enemies' AI only consists of "walk in a straight line towards your position and shoot", completely unable to find their way around obstacles - even the final boss.  One could look at this at one of the game's more subtle jabs at the minority groups portrayed within, in that they're too dumb to survive.  Well, that idea backfires when you consider the WASP player characters' love affairs with walls.

My dear friends, I'd like you to recall Quake.  Developed by id Software (as you know, the same team who made Wolfenstein 3D and Doom) and released in 1996, this was the first game in the first-person-shooter genre to use fully 3D-polygonal characters and environments.  And even its graphics totally outclass those of Ethnic Cleansing, released five and a half years later.  Or look at it this way: if video games like N64 Superman and Atari E.T. are like The Room in that they're so bad they're good, then Ethnic Cleansing is shockingly horrible, like A Serbian Film.  ...No, this is not like A Serbian Film, because at least that had a worthwhile message in between all the... you know.  (Newborn porn!)  Plus, as a film it's, what's the word, competent - which I certainly can't say about this game!  Maybe a more apt comparison would be something like Trash Humpers - look it up.

By now, even though America may have achieved the establishment of civil rights as a nation, racism still exists on an individual level, so there's not much we can do about that.  (Doesn't mean we shouldn't try.)  So despite how ridiculously over-the-top it is to outsiders, I'm sure the makers of Ethnic Cleansing believed in what they were creating.  Now, officially, I'm not going to condemn them for expressing said beliefs in the manner they did (or maybe that's just my lawyer talking).  One thing not subject to personal morals, however, is how much this game sucks.  Even if you replaced the enemies and settings with the most morally worthy thing you could think of, the game is still an affront to all five of your other senses (yeah, it stinks that badly).  It should come as no surprise at this point that I'm going to slap this game with a score of 0%.  No, not zero out of five, I said zero precent.  Trust me, you've really got to work to get that low.  Oh, and by the way, even the game is physically sold from Resistance Records' website (no link provided, for obvious reasons), I'm not afraid to say that I downloaded it elsewhere for free in order to review it.  That's right - I just admitted to piracy in order to avoid giving these purveyors of hatred one cent, and I am [verb]ing proud to admit it.  So if you still believe in what Ethnic Cleansing preaches, I'm not going to stop you.  I'll just be over here playing some fun games instead.

Graphics: 0 stars out of 5
Sound: 0 stars out of 5
Control: 0 stars out of 5
Design: 0 stars out of 5
The Call: 0% (What you’ve just made is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever played.  At no point in your rambling, incoherent product were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought.  Everyone in this room is now dumber for having played it.  I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.)

Next Episode: I'm gonna take it easy until the new year starts.

No comments:

Post a Comment