by Preston Dozsa
reviewed on PC
Every so often, something emerges from the primordial ooze that is media and entertainment that is so shockingly bad that it actually becomes entertaining. It is the kind of thing that you need to show to your friends simply because there is no possible way that they will believe you when you attempt to describe how genuinely bad it is. If you have ever watched The Room or played Superman 64, you will understand what I’m talking about. When something is that bad, the paradox is not hard to miss as you will laugh and snicker at what you are looking at, even though in the recesses of your mind you are deeply regretting the money you spent on it.
Conversely, there is the “So bad it is mind-numbingly horrible” type of media too, where the piece of media is so awful that it has no redeeming qualities. Not entertaining or worthwhile in the slightest, they are memorable in that they are frequently cited as being examples of the worst thing ever, and should be avoided at all costs. Think Avatar: The Last Airbender or the game Rogue Warrior.
ORION: Dino Horde lies firmly in the latter category. It’s not bad enough to be enjoyable; it’s just really, really bad. And frankly it shouldn’t even be remembered.
ORION: Dino Horde is a sci-fi shooter where you take the role of a soldier killing wave after wave of dinosaurs with other people online. Imagine Jurassic Park with of all the main characters armed with jetpacks and rechargeable shields and the dinosaurs as the least intelligent creatures in all of creation. There is nothing wrong with the premise of the game, but sadly its developers took a couple of wrong turns. What we have instead is an extended exercise in testing your patience and will to play games.
The first challenge one must overcome is the game itself. More often than not the game would not allow me to create a new game. Despite my internet working fine, the game would perpetually show me an icon that it was trying to connect to the server. Unless I stopped attempting to join a game or close the game, it would go on indefinitely. More than half my attempts to join a multiplayer game were like this. Of course, often when I joined a game the client crashed several minutes later without warning or reason.
Upon actually starting a game, you are confronted by an enemy that has long plagued generations of gamers: textures pop-in. And not just a little bit either. It is everywhere from the rock walls, to the sides of your base and vehicles and the grass that you are looking at. It’s not like the textures are very pretty to look at in the first place but for a while I was convinced that my settings were set to low, only to find that everything was set to the highest possible. And the graphic settings did not provide an explanation as to why the fog of war is absurdly close either. It is not like ORION: Dino Horde is graphically intense, so why the need to hide most of the player’s vision?
On second thought, maybe the reason is that they are trying to prevent us from looking too long at the animations of the dinosaurs. Picture, if you will, the toy dinosaurs that lived in your toy box as a child, you know, the small, rigid, rubbery ones. Remember how their joints didn’t move all that much and were stuck in the same pose? Yeah, thats how the dinosaurs move and look like in ORION: Dino Horde. Velociraptors attack you by headbutting, despite making biting sounds. T-Rex's look like they can’t move their head and tail at all, except when they move their head down to bite you, in which case they literally lean their head down without moving the jaws. The original King Kong had better animation than this game for crying out loud.
Last - but certainly not least - there is the gameplay. Consisting of shooting endless streams of rubber dinosaurs it should not have been too hard to make it at least somewhat entertaining. But yet again, the game simply does everything it can to look generic. The weapons that you can buy between rounds feel remarkably underpowered. This is painfully illustrated by the magnum pistol which sounds like a five year old's idea of what a gun should sound and shoot like. I would rather make a finger gun and shout “Pew Pew” at the dinosaurs because at the very least my imagination knows what a gun feels like. Sniper rifles feel you are firing a water gun as there is no indication whatsoever as to how powerful it is or what impact it makes.
The various vehicles that you can drive in the game feel like they’ve been poorly taken from the Halo series. There is a jeep with a mounted machine gun on the back looks like a Warthog, a tank that looks nearly identical to the Scorpion and a helicopter that I swear is the Falcon from Halo: Reach. Warning: They all suck too.
The basic gameplay of the game is completely unoriginal, lacks any sort of polish and is devoid of substance. Frankly, ORION: Dino Horde feels like an alpha release rather than the full version it claims to be. There are a few game modes that offer some slight changes to the basic first-person shooter formula, but truth be told it doesn’t matter in the slightest. When a game forces you to engage uninteresting enemies, with uninteresting weapons, with inconceivably stupid challenges and a slew of bugs that prevent you from accomplishing banal objectives, it is a good sign to delete it from your drive forever.
An abundance of game crashing bugs, horrible graphics and even worse gameplay.