Any game that takes four years to crawl out of development is either going to be polished to a blinding glare or a glaring catastrophe. Psychotoxic, a labor of mediocrity by German-based NuclearVision, falls squarely in the latter category.

15_1Three-fourths of the levels in this oh-so-derivative shooter take place in locales like Washington D.C., and New York where, as thong-wearing hottie Angie Prophet, you’ve been chosen to stop the fourth horseman of the Apocalypse from culminating nuclear Armageddon. The other levels occur inside the heads of characters within the game. Angie, you see, has the ability to step into people’s dreams, a nifty little trick that leads to the game’s only interesting levels, including one set in a cartoon dreamscape.

This is no sleeper gem like Painkiller; Psychotoxic also manages to make almost every miserable-game mistake in the book. Let’s run down the list: Ridiculous game physics? Check. Any game in which it’s possible to get hung up on a wine bottle, glide across the open gaps between platforms, and hang in midair when climbing a ladder isn’t based in any identifiable reality. Game-crashing bugs? Check. Horrible enemy AI? Check. There’s no shortage of FBI or SWAT agents who are thrilled to turn their backs while you blast their pals into bloody pulp.

Lousy level design? Yup. Not only are most of the real-world levels little more than alley and hallway mazes with multiple enemies lurking around every corner and staircase landing, but they’re also uninspired and even spiteful. At one point, you blast your way through a snowy Central Park to rendezvous with a scientist… who whimsically decides to change the meeting location, forcing you to traverse the park several times.

Ho-hum weapons and powers? Check. Angie can pick up “power of the angel†power-ups that, in truly revolutionary fashion, allow her to briefly become invisible, indestructible or use bullet-time. They’re so few and far between as to be almost useless. If it isn’t obvious by now, there’s little to recommend in this game. You might as well check out and play something else.

System Requirements: Pentium IV 2.5 Ghz, 512 MB RAM, 3 GB HDD, WinXP

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