Archangel is one of those games that has a lot of potential, but ends up being a mediocre title instead. Truth be told, I hadn't even heard of this game before I found myself installing it, but I had high hopes nonetheless. The title sounded nice, and the art I saw before the game started looked pretty cool.
Heck, the intro was even pretty nice. We find a guy listening to the radio in his car, driving along, minding his own business, when a huge truck comes slamming into him. The next thing we know, we find him lying several yards away from his smashed-up car. Could things be any worse for this unfortunate fellow? Sadly, yes. That is when he awakes in an old castle of some sort, with large gray bricks, torches acting as a light source, and heavy wooden doors. He's greeted by a few men who claim that he is to be the one to fight off the darkness that is enveloping the world. After receiving a powerful sword - the Sword of Light - the game begins. We are taken through a few training exercises and soon head outside, where we meet up with a big... head.
Yes, a big head. A big, lighted-up head.. He talks to us for a bit, and then gives us the option to choose to have the power of a warrior or ghost. This is probably one of the cooler ideas behind Archangel. The warrior has incredibly rough, strong skin; almost armor. This protects him from almost any attack, and to top it off, he has a huge blade attached to one of his hands. This blade was deliver some devastating damage to any enemies that dare challenge you. The Ghost form, on the other hand, will make you invisible. You won't have much of a chance fighting enemies, but you will be able to sneak past foes, basically becoming the Solid Snake of the game. Each form has their own advantages and disadvantages, and use up your mana, which I'll cover in a moment.
After you receive your Sword of Light in the beginning of the game, you'll notice two bars on the lower left-hand side of the screen - one red, one blue. The red bar gauges how much life you have left, so you're best to watch it - you really don't want to suffer through any more loading screens than necessary, trust me. The loading screen when you load your saved game, or the ones between each area of land, are bad enough. Anyway, while the red one's for health, the blue shows how much mana you have. It's constantly regenerating, albeit slowly. Every time you swing your Sword of Light, transform into your Warrior or Ghost form, or use any weapon that requires mana, this bar drops down - too much, in fact. At the beginning of the game, you can only swing your sword about four or five times before having to wait for it to regenerate. This is amazingly stupid and annoying, frankly. Why does it use mana when I swing it, even if I don't hit anything? Why does it use up so damn much? You'll often find yourself in a situation where you're going to need to swing it more than five times, so you're constantly retreating from the enemy.
Level design could fare better, too. While none of it is horribly bad, none of it is terribly exciting or interesting, either. In fact, some of it is quite questionable. For instance, there’s one area where there’s a little island residing in a bed of water. The water looks pretty shallow, and the islands not far from the ground you’re standing on – it looks like you’d be able to land on it by jumping. But when you do jump, and miss by a little bit, you find that the water isn’t shallow at all; it’s more like thirty feet deep. Thus, we drown to death, and are forced to restart the level from our last save point. Another small gripe is that some areas are really small, and the loading times seem to take just as long to get through as do these areas.
The controls aren't that great, either. The character you control can be turned as in most third-person games by using the mouse, and moving forward, left, right, and backwards using the arrow keys, or whatever you prefer. You can also perform an awkward jump that's hard to land in the spot you want to. Adding to the mess is the way you select items. By default, the key is E, and whenever you press that, your character stops and an item screen fades in, from which you select the item you want to equip. The problem is that while your characters stops, enemies do not. Imagine this lovely scenario: you're fighting a bunch of enemies with your Sword of Light, until there are, say, two left, and you're out of mana. You decide to switch to a small dagger to continue the fight, but while you do this, the enemies chew away at your flesh! Hooray! How fun.
The graphics in the game aren't much to rave about, either. While they get the job done, environments tend to be rather bland, and character models are blocky. Animation is usually pretty stiff and seems forced, not smooth and natural like I like my women and my animation...hah, hah. Bad joke. Anyway, don't expect to be blown out of your seat while playing this game. Even though some of the art's cool, there's very little of it in the actual game.
The sound ranges from decent to plain bad. The music found in the game isn't very memorable or anything close to a masterpiece, but it gets the job done. The voice acting, on the other hand, could fare better. Every character sounds like they're reading dialogue off of a piece of paper. To make matters worse, there tends to be a large pause when the conversation switches from one person to another. It really slows down cutscenes and they end up feeling less real than they were in the first place. And if that wasn't bad enough, there are actually quite a few noticeable errors. For example, one person may be talking about meeting another later. When you actually meet this person, not only is his name pronounced much differently than before, the spelling in the subtitles at the bottom of the screen is different. There's such a lack of polish that it's almost astonishing.
What it all boils down to is an experience that could have used a lot more work. The actual storyline is decent, and the gameplay could have been okay, but there are so many flaws that the game becomes a tiresome exercise in frustration. And it's really a shame - with a lot of polish, this game could have been a nice title. As it stands, you probably want to avoid Archangel.
Score: 5.0 / 10