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Head 2 Head Review: KISS: Psycho Circus

The Match-Up:
Name: Mark B. (a.k.a. OverKill) e-mail me

Favorite Genres: All types of simulation, strategy & RTS, FPS

Favorite Games: Need For Speed, Rogue Spear, SimCity 3000, StarLancer, RC Tycoon.



Name: Tristinian (a.k.a. Commodus) e-mail me

Favorite Genres: RTS, RPG, Adventure, Action/FPS, Sims

Favorite Games: Baldur's Gate, Half-Life, Unreal Tournament, Red Alert, Jedi Knight

Tristinian: In looking at KISS: Psycho Circus, we have yet another first person shooter hitting the market, but this one obviously has a bit of a twist. The game is centered around the 'lore' of a band and its members. This is the first thing i have seen like this since Shaquille O'Neal had his own Shaq Fu game for the Super Nintendo!

OverKill: The biggest question most people are probably thinking is 'how much of this game is focused for the regular KISS fan compared with someone who has no idea of who KISS is?'.

Tristinian: True...is this game just for KISS fans? Or can anyone enjoy it? Well, let's take a look. One of the first things that you'll notice about this game are the similarities to Daikatana in terms of looks and play feel. Don't take this the wrong way either! Although a lot of the original Daikatana crew worked on this game the engine that KISS uses is not as ugly as Daikatana's usage of the Quake 2 engine, but by the same token, it doesn't look like the 'best' of the Unreal engine either. Sporting the Lithtech engine, the coloured lighting and general textures are superior to Daikatana in the visual sense of things and range anywhere from pleasing to fundamentally suitable.

OverKill: The weapon graphics I felt were also well done with their added effects etc.. One weapon in particular will actually start smoking after using it excessively. Nice touch. Also, i thought the monsters were well done-especially the way they move and die. Creatures (like the 'Headless' for example' can have limbs shot off before they even die) but the lack of different monsters was a big disappointment.

Tristinian: True, monsters were small in variety and it got terribly dry to see enemies that started off as bosses, becoming simple grunts all within the same realm. But, speaking of realms, perhaps we had better clear up the story behind this FPS...

OverKill: Sure...It starts with an epic battle between the Elders and the Nightmare King. The Elders win, but as the Nightmare King is destroyed, he pulls the Elders down with him trapping them in the void where they are beyond powerless. The Nightmare King's final action is to place his powers in a child (hence the Nightmare Child). Four mortals are picked to search for the powers to become the Elders once again to defeat the Nightmare Child.

Tristinian: Riveting isn't it? The gypsy who guides you through the entire thing can get on your nerves though and you might find yourself just skipping through the in-engine cutscenes that feature her psychic spewings. But regardless, it is the 4 realms of this world that one plays through and to give the game some credit, there is always action of some sort going down. If you like being smacked with enemy activity at all times in a brainless shoot-em up, you'll love this. And despite my not being a KISS fan, the music etc. actually fit in quite well with the game and although the game's graphics aren't cutting edge, there are times when the architecturing is pretty darn nice.

OverKill: I also feel that the storyline will work well for people who are not KISS fans. For a KISS fan, they get to be 4 characters and slowly turn them into an Elder who resembles a KISS member. Where someone who doesn't follow KISS will probably perceive themself as getting to play a character that turns them into an Elder with cool armour and face paint.

Tristinian: Umm...well, hate to say it, but there is no way to mask (no pun) the fact that players morph into KISS members by the ends of the stages. I don't even think those who are not fans of the band will observe anything different. But, the positive for those who aren't KISS oriented and really don't appreciate the band from a cult-like standpoint is that KISS isn't just endlessly thrown in a player's face as the game is played. The game is about action foremost and you won't see KISS being just shoved down anyone's throat here. I mean, the game offers some decent components depending on the type of gamer you are-including those just for KISS fans-but it isn't top notch in any category...then again it certainly doesn't disappoint either. It is simply a solid FPS that either you like, or don't like for varying reasons.

OverKill: But as much as it is a solid FPS, some people will find that the lack of direction per level and the storyline may discourage even the biggest KISS fan from wanting to play the game. As much as I am a KISS fan, I found the game got boring quickly compared to other FPS startegy games like Rogue Spear where levels and storyline are far more closely linked together. But, then again, i realize that this isn't supposed to be that type of game.

Tristinian: Yeah...i mean, i felt the game was far more linear than lacking in direction myself, but it is true, the game does get boring if you are expecting more from an FPS than just running around and shooting generally repetitive waves of creatures that aren't terrbly wonderful to behold with the eye. The game is a solid FPS in the sense that it fulfills all the necessities that the genre asks of it, but it never exceeds them.

OverKill: I will have to rate this game as a 73%. It's a sturdy FPS with good graphics, effects and sounds, but I do believe this game is more focused for a hardcore FPS player than it is a KISS fan. But KISS fans will have fun playing as the KISS members as well as all of the little graphics everywhere based on KISS-such as pictures of the KISS car, and the Kisstory book in the giant library stage. Also KISS fans will have the incredibly hard, in-store task of picking which box as there are 4 different boxes to choose from-each with a different KISS member on the cover.

Tristinian: Hmm...well, seeing as the game neither flunks nor takes off with flying colours, a 70% is what i feel this game deserves. It holds it own, but nothing more than that really. Many will have fun perhaps getting that old, original FPS feeling back, but this game at least can say that it is better than Daikatana. Hey, you can even crank up the res in this game and it looks fairly good!-quite unlike Daikatana! If you are looking for a game that combines endless, lacklustre action with a pinch of "Little Nemo: The Dreamaster" type themes (for all you old console heads out there), leave your brain at the door and sit down for this ride through the psycho circus.

OverKill's Mark
OverKill's Final Words
Tristinian's Final Words
Tristinian's Mark
this game is more focused for a hardcore FPS player than it is a KISS fan
The game is a solid FPS in the sense that it fulfills all the necessities that the genre asks of it, but it never exceeds them.


The architecture can sometimes surprise you as you wander through the world of KISS...


That's it! Face it! Look at yourself in the mirror and admit it-you're a KISS fan!! No? gee....well, at least the swords looks all Klingon-like.


The transformation begins! Everytime you find a KISS item in the game that adds on another KISS-effect to your appearance, you go through the process of being levitated for a few seconds and surrounded by swirling lights. No, this is not Paris after a bad hang-over.


Why do you have to see this damn clown so often in the game?! This is the 3rd realm and he is still around after having been a boss-like character in the first realm and then having reached grunt status even before the end of that first level. Not well planned.