There are bad games, and then there are terrible games. There are games so plodding and uninspired that the only thing more uninteresting than reading about them is actually playing them. While Torrente might seem like every other generic 3rd-person shooter out there, it's actually one of those games, a game whose mundanity defies description. I struggled to find a way to explain just how sub-par everything about the game is, and as I wrote, I realized that for everything the game did wrong, it actually did teach me a few valuable lessons, which I would be remiss in not passing on.
Lesson 1: When it comes to the inclusion of 'Mature' subject matter, North American developers are strictly lightweights
All too often developers struggle to make 'Mature' games and ends up with awkwardly self-conscious endeavors packed to the gills with poorly pixelated thongs and tacked-on profanity. Torrente is the genuine article—a game that doesn't put need to put on airs of salaciousness, it wears its prurient subject matter like a sordid second skin. The game's rather thin plot is told in flashback, beginning with the main character's happy ending. Not in the video game sense of the word, though, with the princesses and the castles and the beheaded dragons, more the type of Happy Ending that's expected by people who go to the bad part of town for their massages. This is a game about a fat, ugly, sexist private detective who can't walk past a busty girl without delivering a crude pickup line, and never dies without first throwing the bad guys a final obscene gesture.
Lesson 2: Terrible video game tie-ins aren't exclusive to American movies.
That's right, Torrente is based on a series of Spanish films that I haven't seen. Because of this, I'm willing to give the plot the benefit of the doubt, and assume that it would make more sense (and be a lot more funny) if I'd seen the films. Being attached to a series of films is no excuse for sub-par graphics and dull, repetitive gameplay. Rarely have I seen such a poorly-designed action game—here's a perfect example: numerous enemies in the game are armed with one-shot-kill weapons like bazookas and grenade launchers. These enemies aren't selectively placed to provide a challenge, they're randomly dropped in to kill the player instantly—many levels required more than one replay as I tried to figure out where the fatal rockets were coming from.
Lesson 3: Quantity of content is unrelated to quality of content.
For any other complaints I may have about the game, it's certainly not short. Torrente features 13 chapters, each of which is broken down into anywhere from three to five missions. With each of those missions lasting an average of five minutes, it's obviously not a short game. Taking a page from Grand Theft Auto's book, Torrente's developers have put most of their effort into building themselves a large play area, then created relatively simple missions that ask the player to run back and forth, shooting basically everyone they meet. Of course, Torrente can only get around by tromping from place to place on foot, which is an equisitely boring way of travelling through an extensive, maze-like city. The unrelenting sameness of the missions got to me very quickly, and I found myself going on autopilot very early in the game. Every now and then there's a rail shooter level thrown in, or a bit of sniping, but those missions are few and far between.
If the gameplay was incredibly fun, or the graphics fantastic, then perhaps playing basically the same mission over and over again for ten hours could have been bearable, or even mildly entertaining. Torrente, by comparison, was more like pulling teeth. I'm generally pretty fair to budget titles, willing to look past graphical flaws or gameplay quirks and judge them on their own terms. More than once I've been surprised by a truly great game buried at the bottom of a bargain bin. Torrente isn't one of those games. It's a game that can't even live up to a lack of expectations, and that's just sad.