GROM: Terror in Tibet

6_1Polish developer Rebelmind says that “grom†means “thunder”. They would’ve been much better off leading with the subtitle, “Terror in Tibet.†It is of course in Tibet that Grom and friends race against the Nazis in 1942 to find a Tibetan McGuffin that can Make Bad Things Happen. The storyline is a blender-on-high mix of Casablanca, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Seven Years in Tibet. The latter sounds more like a description of the gameplay. Marketing fluff proclaims GROM to be an “action-adventure/role-playing game”. It’s actually a Commandos clone.

The only problem is that GROM isn’t a particularly polished Commandos clone. It’s not that the combat sucks; in fact, the tactical choices are varied and interesting. The enemy AI is mostly quite good: they respond to noise and take steps to protect themselves, although it would have helped if there was some visual markers letting you know how aware the AI is. Even so, the bigger problem is that there are too many enemies. If there were that many Nazis on the Eastern Front in 1942, they would’ve celebrated Oktoberfest in Stalingrad that year.

Fighting, healing, and ammo-scavenging pull you away from the game: they not only obscure the plot and keep you from seeing the breathtaking temple environments, they short-circuit your emotional involvement in the story. Making a short game is less of a sin than padding one with endless combats of attrition.

GROM could’ve been a decent budget game, with its innovative card-based negotiating system and passable storyline, but a sharp learning curb and punishing difficulty means this game will ask quite a lot for not that much of a reward.

System Requirements: Pentium II 400 MHz, 64 MB RAM, Win98

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