Written by  :  Jack Lightbeard (2707)
Written on  :  Jul 22, 2012
Rating  :  3.8 Stars3.8 Stars3.8 Stars3.8 Stars3.8 Stars
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A good launch title for the Jaguar.

The Good

The evil Pernitia Empire is conquering world after world and what makes matters worse is that the new weapons designed by your forces, along with supplies and information, have been seized and sealed inside pods. You must pilot the T-Griffon attack craft and recover the pods.

The player's ship has a morphing effect when selecting different weapons and reversing/accelerating. There is a first-person cockpit view, several external views and a crosshair toggle. The ship's holographic intelligence agent, Skylar, provides information and moral support.

There are five sectors and each sector has eight planet levels which can be played in any order, once the planets have been completed there is a boss level before progressing to the next sector. There is no way of saving progress while playing through the planet levels, however the sectors can be accessed independently once a code has been received upon completion of the previous sector.

As the planets can be accessed in any order the it's not necessary to play through each previous level before getting a glimpse of the next - it's possible to jump in and play any of the eight levels from the offset. Weapons and extra lives are carried over between levels, so it's possible to use a weapon in one level that was picked up in another. Extra weapons are lost however once the player's ship is destroyed.

There are a couple of upgraded versions of the basic weapon and several extra types, for example Cruise Bombs drop to the surface and fly forward along the ground (for ground based enemies and buildings). Mines are dropped just below the ship and remain stationary (great for bombing runs or retreating from enemies in pursuit) and Incinerators fire a wider area of flame. There are three types of Super Weapons but only one type can be carried at any time, various other pick-ups and bonuses are available.

The levels are reasonably large and I thought very well designed, effort has gone in to providing a different challenge for most of the levels. There are numerous portals leading to other areas, force fields which need to be deactivated and a variety of open or maze-like terrains. When flying off the level boundary the ship will seamlessly re-enter the level from the opposite side.

Vortex towers have been installed on some planets, which slowly spread a blackness across the ground destroying any pods it comes in contact with.

There is a variety of ground based and airborne enemies, most have a weakness or behaviour which can be exploited. One enemy while not a threat as such will go around collecting pods and drop them in the vicinity of the vortex towers, so sometimes it'll be a race against time flying between towers trying to keep up with these 'collector' ships, or to gain access to an area where a tower is slowly encroaching on a group of pods. On the other hand sometimes it's possible to sit by and wait for these ships to pick up the pods and drop them in your lap.

Cybermorph is not a typical shoot em up, it's very much it's own game, there is a lot of shooting to be fair, but there's an equal emphasis on exploration and learning the best way to complete each level.

Some of the animations are pretty good, little touches like the way imprisoned pods strain against their bonds add character to the game.

The graphics are functional, but they are clean, bright and do the job well, and like the game, grew on me before long.

Although I wasn't too keen on the title music I thought the sound overall was good. The sound effects that play when flying through the Power and Bonus Rings however rank among the most satisfying sound effects I have heard in any computer game!

The Bad

There are some problems and limitations however, the frame rate can be pretty variable, from fairly smooth when there's not much going on to occasionally taking a nose dive when there's a lot of enemies on screen, while I found things perfectly playable this may put some players off.

The draw distance is fairly short, at high speed hills, turnings and other obstacles can pop up with little warning. However, if the ground rises with a gradient that the ship can fly over, it will automatically raise it's altitude to follow the terrain.

While there is a scanner displaying nearby enemies and neutrals etc. there is no compass included in the H.U.D. which I felt wouldn't have taken too much to include and would have at times made navigating the areas more straightforward.

It’s not possible to fly all that high; there is a relatively narrow band between the ground and maximum altitude. It’s also not possible to fly under water, which is displayed as solid blue and is as impregnable as the ground, although one level at least supposedly takes place on the ocean floor and must be played without a scanner. It is possible to enter water, with an accompanying effect, in the game's sequel Battlemorph released for the Jaguar CD.

The ending after completing the game was slightly disappointing, it’s a big game so a longer end sequence wouldn’t have gone amiss. I was playing the later slightly cut down boxed release, rather than the original pack-in version, which has the animation effects missing from the intro and endgame sequences and a few less lines of speech, I don't know how much difference this would make, it's only a few seconds for the intro.

The Bottom Line

Cybermorph is a decent game with well thought out levels. It takes a while to get into but is well worth spending some time with, as there's more depth to the game than may be apparent at first glance.