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Late Shift Review

July 10th, 2017 by

late shift 001In the earlier days of 80′s gaming, we did not have PC Graphics cards cable of 4K immersive entertainment, or consoles claiming to be the best ever invented because they have “Pro” in the title.  In the arcade, the most expensive machines with all their pretty cabinets, hydrolics and stereo sound could only manage to push a 2D sprite around the screen in  new and creative ways.  Even the 3D games had to settle for the smooth wireframe delight of Star Wars or the chugging polygon simulation of Hard Drivin’.  People asked the question, “how can we get better graphics out of such primitive software?”

With the introduction of optical media formats such as Laserdisc and later with CD Rom, some clever dick had just the answer.  We’ll take pre-shot video, digitise it, cut it up and add a binary choice every minute or so to trick the audience into thinking they are playing a game.  And so the Full Motion Video (FMV) genre was born with games such as Dragons Lair and Night Trap.  These games looked amazing for their time and, to some, they now hold classic status.  Until you actually try and play them. Try and ignore that rose tinted sentiment, and you’ll realise, they are bloody poor.

So, in 2017, what would possess someone to release a game where you have as much control as a trolly with a wonky wheel?  CtrlMovie have done just that with its first outting Lates Shift.

It’s very well shot. A first time director Tobias Webber working with Alfie Bodie on cinematography , graduating from camera assistant on Harry Potter and Pirates of the Caribbean but with a string of solid shorts to his name. Co-written by Michael Robert Johnson who wrote the first Sherlock Holmes film, so far so good.  He also wrote Pompeii, the slave-turned-gladiator disaster not-so-epic.  Hmmm.

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So the money is right there up on screen.  However, that can’t be said of the actors in the key character roles.  It puts the classic thespian Danny Dyer to shame.  Whether this is the fault of the director or the person in charge in casting is unknown.  The script certainly has more ham than the meat isle of a supermarket with a 50% off ham promotion.  The main star is likeable enough and improves somewhat as the story progresses.

The tail follows a cockney geezer car park attendant who is soon embroiled in the well worn plot of theft and Chinese triads.  I assumed they were triads but were definitely Chinese.

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Choices early in the game don’t really make much difference.  Regardless of how I tried to get away or scupper their plans,  I felt like I still ended up at the same point of the next scene.  At no point did they just shoot me.  But that is not the case later on.  Clearly the early section sets the scene.

For the sake of being thorough I played the whole game three times and got the same ending twice.  It was clear to see the branching of the story, where it was the same and where it changed.  And yes you can influence the outcome as there are multiple endings, seven in fact.  But I wasn’t going to play it that many times as there was no way to skip or fast forward scenes.  This made the replay a slightly torturous process.  The checking pointing isn’t great either so, if I had taken a break, or restart section to see a different option, I had  to re-watch an unskippable 10 minute cut scene.  Just like playing Metal Gear Solid.  But without any “playing”.

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Have no illusions.  This is a game which plays a scene, then you click an option at the bottom to make a choice.  There is no clever trickery here, not direct control over your character, just a series of multiple choice options.  It’s structure is fairly inflexible making it less of a game per say but it’s high production values make it a decent experience none-the-less.

At £9.99 you might be best to buy a few DVD’s down Poundland instead.  Wait for a sale but it give it a try if you fancy something a bit different.

Midlife Gamer Rating: 6/10     Format:  PlayStation 4 / Xbox One / PC      Release Date: 18th April 2017

Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided with a review copy of  Late Shift for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of  3 days. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.

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