When I heard that the third installment of My Liver Hurtz?s Nexus series was going to be out by Monday of last week, I was thrilled. Having discussed it with him on several occasions and even played some of a preview I had been offered, Nexus III was, for me, one of the most anticipated games of the year.
Did it live up to my expectations?
Nexus III continues to round off the evolution of My Liver Hurtz, from the rather horrible Nexus I, a decent but Spartan NII, on to the innovative yet deficient Z*Bert and Silicate. The My Liver Hurtz we see in this game is different, matured. He has studied his shortcomings and created something to be proud of.
From the opening board of the space station to the outside shot of the K?Ton base, NIII has some graphics that are truly beautiful. Now, one must be mindful, MLH hasn?t attempted anything extremely ambitious, we are still left to our imaginations to what the K?Ton, or for that matter, our heroes look like, but what there is executed with skill.
Of course, the emphasis in the Nexus games has never been the graphics, but the story, and, even more so in this installment, the gameplay, which consists of shootouts and engines, for the most part. The shootouts are very functional, excellently programmed, and are designed skillfully. Throughout the game, in fact, there are evidences of Liver?s great talent for programming, and, furthermore, the brilliance of his mind, in the innovation factor of the game. He employs several tricks and engines that may very well find you taking a peek at the source code.
The story continues from NII, seeing the three Admirals from the end of Nexus II coming to the grim conclusion that the K?Ton attacks they thought were random were, in fact, far from it. With the destruction of the Orbital Nexus Targeting system, they realize, they have lost the key to the Nexus, a gravitational phase frequency that opens the portal, discovered in a lab accident. And the fact that James Concade, the only man left who could have given it to them, was sent six months ago to destroy the powerful Tamara Missile and never returned, doesn?t brighten the prospect of survival. That is, before one of them reveals something. Concade?s ex-wife, Jennifer, knows the frequency. Preposterous, the others counter, even if she was alive, she would be 90 years old, and far from being in any condition to relay the frequency to them. Wrong, he replies, she is alive on Earth, a 32 year-old petty thief, being detained at the base. Jennifer, or Jade, as she is now known, is brought before them. After being asked for the frequency, she asks them where James is. They refuse to tell her, but finally break down. She agrees to tell them, but only on one condition. That they will send her to K?Ton, fully armed, in hopes that she may be able to find the man she left ten years ago. You portal in, in front of the prison facility suspected to hold James. None of the civilians surrounding you seem to notice, but the guards, now drawing their weapons, obviously do.
Of course, Nexus is not without its flaws. Spelling mistakes are frequent, and occasionally, one feels that the story could just be a tad more polished, and even a bit longer, at times. The difficulty, often, is none too easy either. Though not quite at the level of something like Nothing Constructive, this is still a fairly hard game. I also found that, in my opinion, the end, which I will not go into detail on, seemed more than a little rushed. Where there could have been even a slight stir of the emotions, it drew a blank; merely raised an eyebrow before ?TO BE CONTINUED...? Furthermore, it seems, that for a rather dark story, a better atmosphere could have been conveyed, but, unfortunately, there is none.
Nevertheless, despite its flaws, Nexus: Future?s End has a lot going for it. It?s a fun game, and a breath of fresh air, when it seems ZZT is getting predictable. What?s more, to top it all off, NIII utilizes a rather fun idea: for replaying the game a second time around, you have the option to turn in-game commentary on. Of course, there's not a lot of it, but, it's still worth at the very least editing to gain some behind-the-scenes information.
Figuring the flaws into the score, Nexus III gets a four, though, perhaps, had the flaws been corrected, it could easily have netted a 4.5, perhaps even higher.