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BioForge (DOS)

85
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
4.1
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  J. P. Gray (111)
Written on  :  Dec 14, 2007
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  4.4 Stars4.4 Stars4.4 Stars4.4 Stars4.4 Stars

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Summary

So I broke into this guy's cell, then beat him to death with his own severed arm...

The Good

BioForge is an ace game. The amount of fun, wacky stuff you do throughout the story is just mind-boggling. The aforementioned severed arm bashery actually exhibits how well BioForge can satisfy the puzzling and beat/shoot-em-up impulses at one stroke. After using this blue bludgeon in a most satisfying visceral way, you might pick up the dead prisoner's log and read it. Then you might notice a lock elsewhere that is palm-print activated... hmmm. :-) While this puzzle is rather simpleminded, there are complex brainfreezers all over the place. The intimidating reactor segment, the bomb, the hellish asteroid-chucking alien puzzle, etc. Most of these combine smarts and dexterity in new, fun ways--much like another classic, Out of this World.

Another key element to this game is the buildup of your character's strength, not through leveling up or anything so mundane, but through play experience increasing your skill, and better equipment to maximize that skill. A single space marine will probably be your most frustrating opponent early on, but by the end you'll face down an entire squad of the bastards with hardly a scratch, if you know what you're about.

Solutions to puzzles are also charmingly non-linear. The devilish reactor scene is a good example. You can run in, beat the hell out of the Trogg and then try to shut things down, or things can be greatly simplified by sniping that itinerant alien dozens of times with your laser pistol first to soften him up. Things get even -more- simplified if you figure out the controls of the light bridge spanning the massive chasm which isolates the reactor. :-D Occasionally you encounter this open-ended approach to solving puzzles or defeating enemies, and it is enormously satisfying when you find a more elegant way to surmount an obstacle. Taking on the walking robot guards in the facility is a great example.

The graphics are also -incredible- for the time of release. And as other reviewers have mentioned, the physics of firing lasers is enormously satisfying, and proves that most of the pre-rendered backgrounds are mapped for interactivity. In general, this game does a great job of allowing static backdrops to do the work of real-time rendered environments. Except for the lack of camera control, natch. ;-)

The neat (if partly wacky) part of combat is the one-liners! Once in a while when someone is knocked down in combat, you or your opponent will gesticulate dramatically to spit out some line of Schwarzenegger grade action-movie nonsense. It's cool! It's fun! It's ridiculous! I'm sure it was meant in all seriousness, but this bit of kitsch really adds to the game.

The Bad

The combat system, however (at least before you get your hands on a gun or big batteries) leaves a bit to be desired. Laying out a copious amounts of melee whoopass is possible, but feels a bit sluggish. The system tends to get jammed up, where either you or your opponent keeps falling down under a fusillade of blows. The catch to this is that if you keep mashing buttons and don't stand still, your character will slowly spin off target and you'll miss, again and again. This took me quite a few battles to figure out. Don't just mash buttons! Wait a bit for your mug to be re-centered on the prize!

Running around can also be cumbersome. When a small metal grating is all you have to maneuver on, and death lies on either side, a little bit more precision in the basic controls would be a plus.

The plot is full of cliches, despite being engaging, and the ending is lame and a definite anti-climax.

The Bottom Line

A great romp through a well-designed, fun world. Lots of great stuff to do, lots of cheesy one-liners from your cyborg-avatar, and some great puzzle design. You'll feel great if you claw your way through this one.