Game of the Month Review: Nothing Constructive
Published: Dec. 1, 2001
Warriors of Seven, a Random Incorporated release, is yet another to receive praises this month. As the first in a series of serious-minded RPGs by Knightt, it sets the atmosphere of the game quite well, weaving a suspenseful plot in the introduction of memorable characters, and whetting an anticipation for what is to come in the next game.
Of course, there can only be one winner. Through the conductance of various needless tests on animals in a cold, dank and smelly laboratory, scientists found that the results invariably correlated with Zanno's sci-fi adventure 'Nothing Constructive'. Generally speaking, I don't really like Sci-Fi games; but Nothing Constructive effectively tossed most of my preconceptions from the 3032nd floor window and onto the superfluously rich citizens below. Serves them right, really.
One of the more remarkable features of the game is the storyline; budding authors take note, it's definitely one of the most exceptionally written ZZT games I've played. Permission to lapse into an English essay here. The storyline is non- linear and used to great effect in creating suspense and atmosphere, as narrative within the game generally forebodes ensuing events. Upon starting the game, the player is greeted with an introduction that is actually an epilogue in disguise, depicting the consequences of the adventure that is to follow. The characterisation is second-to-none; from Doctor Steve, a somewhat matrix-inspired persona, to Doom the enigmatic Chinese communist to Zanno himself, the characters are unique and oddly multi-faceted, escaping the narrow one-dimension 'clich?' character plane that many ZZT game characters seem to become entrapped in. Zanno's creation of believable, yet still entertaining and at times amusing, worlds (such as a crime-tainted and decadent Earth) provide a story-realistic backdrop; you could almost be there, if you sat close enough to the monitor. Mind you, I have dibs on the starting the next nuclear war if they declare Ebonics to be the universal language of Earth.
Zanno makes an unorthodox decision to star in his own game; hence, his life is in your grimy talons as you weave him through streams of bullets and allow him to consume profuse amounts of hard liquor. The game starts Zanno in what looks like a painful situation. Punnily surrounded by Feds and Doom with violent weaponry, he recounts the tale leading up to his dire circumstance; this is where the game starts, with Zanno working menial tasks at the Intergalactic Postal service. Soon after taking out Morris the senselessly happy "diligent assbolt :D" with his shiny phase gun, a package arrives delivered by a Fed. The story spirals from this single event; in killing Morris, Zanno inadvertently causes a chain of unfortunate events that is touted as 'Nothing Constructive'.
The difficulty level of 'Nothing Constructive' is relatively high, in my dubious opinion. I found that one of the final boss duels proved nigh near impossible to win. Arguably, this only makes the game more satisfying to complete. The graphics in the game are pleasing to the eye and appropriate to setting, the usage of grids and metallic colour schemes adds a futuristic edge to the game. Zanno's attention to detail is fairly evident; being utterly anal, I liked various small touches to the game like the occasional sparkling star in the background and the flashing broken 'r' on Ant's bar sign.
But pretentious drivel aside, it would be more than nothing constructive if you miss out on playing this excellent game. Indeed, Chronos has a worthy contender to his throne of Sci-fi delights.