Written by  :  DarkBubble (376)
Written on  :  Jul 31, 2007
Platform  :  PlayStation
Rating  :  3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars

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An almost perfect rendition. Almost.

The Good

Tank-control games are nothing new, having been around almost as long as the industry itself. When it hit the arcades, Cybersled was a great update to the old tanks-in-a-maze routine, providing 3D graphics, multiple weapons and powerups, and a choice of camera views that put you right in the action. As someone who grew up playing Combat on the Atari 2600, I had a blast. I made sure that I got in at least one session before I left the arcade.

Cybersled, running on hardware based on the Playstation, was a shoe-in for easy translation. It made the transition almost completely intact. The graphics and sound are spot-on. There are some bits of eye candy thrown in to add to the overall experience. There is a nice CG FMV that shows scenes of the type of combat that you can expect and does a really good job of getting the player pumped. Prior to a match, you'll also be treated to a CG FMV of your opponent. These weren't necessary, but it's a nice touch nonetheless. Whether these were inserted due to Namco's desire to take advantage of the format or at Sony's insistence, who knows?

Another addition involves the in-game graphics. The standard graphics are flat shaded, outside of bits of textures in the arenas. The PS version gives you the option of using an "enhanced" textured mode, which adds more detail to the textures of the vehicles.

The Bad

The most disappointing thing about Cyber Sled is the controls. Unfortunately, this game was released early in the PS's life, leaving dual analog tank-style control out. While it doesn't render the game unplayable, it does suck some of the fun out, not to mention strategy. With dual analog, you had a much better range of control and subtlety. Being able to move at slower paces than full-throttle could be useful.

Where I'm used to using the d-pad and four face buttons for games like Smash T.V., that use one side to movement direction and the other side for firing direction, it's not very comfortable trying to do tank controls with this setup. The main reasons behind this is that the vechicles are hovercraft tanks, meaning you don't push up or down on the sticks, but rather any combination of directions, diagonals included, all while using the shoulder buttons to fire your machine guns and missiles. Granted, a Dual Shock might not have made it more comfortable. I'm not sure that anything other than the twin trigger sticks of the arcade could really do the game justice. The lack of twin sticks doesn't keep me from playing the game, it just keeps it feeling like the arcade version.

Namco did provide an alternate control set that lets you move forward, backward, and turn with the d-pad, using the shoulder buttons to strafe right and left, and two face buttons for weapons. It's not an ideal replacement and I found it to be rather awkward, even moreso than the standard control scheme.

As far as the "enhanced" textures are concerned, it's a matter of preference. I personally don't care for them, though it does add nice bits of personality to a few crafts. Mostly, it's just additional "lights", some darker texturing around edges to make up for the total lack of light sourcing (Which I can forgive, given when the game was released.), and decals. Unfortunately, this is the Playstation we're talking about. The additions are mostly just jagged bits of extra color and really aren't pretty. If ever there was a case of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it", this is it. Unfortunately, they didn't bother to port the graphically superior (much better textures, real attempts at some light sourcing) sequel Cyber Commando to PS or any other console.

There is a two-player mode, playable by either split-screen or system link. Split-screen, unfortunately, leaves you with a view that includes too much of your own hovertank to truly know what's going on. Having never used system link for this title, I can't comment on how well it was handled, outside of each player retaining their own fullscreen view.

The Bottom Line

Despite the awkward controls, Cybersled is a faithful port of the arcade game. I'm not sure that casual gamers would enjoy it, but fans of the arcade game would likely enjoy the bit of nostalgia.