SummaryWoo Ha !
The GoodI was expecting a neat experience from this much vaunted game, but whoa ! Aliens,mirror floors, handheld nukes, and giant exploding cows ! Well, strap yourself in for one of those wacky reviews ! And no, you can't get off ! (Laughs like a mad scientist.)
Some story first. This is a action game. Like I needed to explain that. But it's a very very very very very very, ...huh...., very very very very very VERY different action game. How ? Let me explain. First off you play Kurt. A ordinary explorer who works with his long time friend Dr. Fluke Hawkins. Along with his robot dog Bones. (Or as Kurt calls him, Max !) A evil force known as The Stream Riders are threatening Earth. (Mostly Scotland for some reason.) And it's up to Kurt to save the Earth with Dr. Hawkins coil suit.
Now on to how the suit works in the game. First is the parachute. It lets you glide and hover for a surprising distance. Another feature of the suit is the chain gun. Yup. Chain gun. Can you say fun !? It works exactly how you think it does. And it never runs out of ammo. (Yeeha !) The next is the most innovative of it's time. The sniper mode ! It shocked me how far I could go out with it. Plus you have all kinds of ammo. Grenades, mortars, and homing bullets. Cool. It's even cooler to snipe at a boss from a distance and see him duck for cover !
Now with the specifics done with, let jump onto the larger view of the game play. Aside from the stuff you read above, you can also carry items. Grenades, tornadoes, "World's Smallest Nuclear Explosion", and the "World's most interesting bomb.
But what good would all these neat weapons be without stuff to blow up ? Well, why are you asking me ? Anyway, you have all kind of adversaries in this game. Ranging from standard grunts, to huge armored flying bots. And at times there can literally be DOZENS of them onscreen at once ! And you can get yourself into real trouble if you don't pay attention. The AI in this game can be pretty tough at times. And there's a re-spawn hub that keeps spitting them out in some area's if you don't blow it up. Some times there are so many, that are so tough, if you just hang around...BOOM ! You loose all your progress. But amid all this mindless destruction, there are a few puzzles. All of them I remember being lob mortars into vent holes. Yeah. a few puzzles.
Most levels only require you to get to point 'a' to 'b'. And shoot anything that moves. But each level takes place inside a moving alien invading city. You have to stop the city from reaching and destroying a Earth city. If you take too long though, the city is doomed. But even if that happens, you can still win the level.
And the last aspect of gameplay is the platforming ! Smooth movement. Some of the platforms are easy to get to. Others require you to stand over vents to launch your parachute to lift you up there. And it can be quite challenging at time. (Look at this if you don't believe me.) Oh yeah, and there about five off the wall bosses. I won't spoil them. One more thing. The loading screens are interactive. Sliding tubes, floating down corridors, and even snow boarding, are in between the levels. But mostly it's walking hallways.
I'm doing sound next because it's almost as outstanding as the gameplay. Since the sound here was done by Tommy Tallarico's studio, it's already got a lot going for it there. And it delivers ! Huge explosions ! Funny power-up sounds ! And that awesome cow noise ! My personal favorite was the monkey scream sound from that "I feel top !" power-up. It's not Dolby quality, but honestly, who cares ?! Oh yeah, and the aliens like to scream at you in their language. I'm not sure It would nice to hear it translated ! And then there's the music. Again from Tommy Tallarico.It's a fine example of how Red Book audio is done. It ranges from the most dramatic, to zany circus music. Well, that's it really ! Superb sound overall !
Ah...it's not quite as impressive as the PC version. I'll get to that later though. But it's still a great experience ! HUGE area's to see, towering monoliths, and some of the best mirror reflections I've ever seen ! And the explosions for the time were very impressive. Not just sprite animated flames, but polygons and particle effects ! Explosions are easy to explain, but the overall look of the game isn't. So, I'll let some screenshots do my talking for me. Done gawking ? Good. One thing you might have noticed was Kurt himself. He's not 3D. He's a sprite. (AKA 2D character.) A main 2D character in a completely 3D world is something that I've never heard of to this day ! And works exactly like he's a 3D model. And aside from that, he's been so convincingly rendered and animated, you might not even had noticed if I hadn't pointed it out to you. So how do the aliens look ? Well they're rendered in 3D, but look a little chunky. Aside from that, they move with lots of articulation and expression. Who needs motion capture ? The textures are a mixed bag though. Some are really detailed, while some objects exist without any textures ! But it doesn't detract at all from the gameplay. And the whole vibe this game gave off has never come close to being captured again. Not even it's sequel ! So to wrap it up for graphics, awesome !
You move with the D-pad. Jump with the X button. Fire with the square button. Change ammo and special items with L2 button. And enter or exit sniper mode with the select button. That's it ! And it's all super responsive, and never lags.
Well, there's not much to say other than you save at the end of every level, and it only takes up one memory block. And Bones is the image of the block on the memory card screen.
Sense of Humor !-
Don't expect this again any time soon in my other reviews, but I felt I had to mention this. Giant exploding cows, the laugh out loud captions for power-ups, (World's Most Interesting Bomb for example.), and the ridiculous looking bosses ! My favorite part was where Bones, well, I won't spoil that one. But you get my drift. It's not that obvious style of funny, but a "Are you kidding me ?" ridiculous style of funny. Just play the game and you'll get it !
The only real complaints I have about this game are it can be very hard at times, and it's WAY to linear. I really don't like it when the game starts to feel like a endless hallway. (Don't worry about that hallway fell too much though.) Oh yeah, and it's short ! Shorter than ICO short ! Why must all good games like this be so short ? Why Shiny why ?!
The graphics, while still highly original, are starting to show their age a bit. Polygons without textures ? Soooooo 1993.
The Bottom LineThis is by far one of the best games you'll ever have the pleasure of playing ! Short it may be, it's worth the price of admission ! (And yes I know how tired that phrase is .) It can usually be found for cheap. So if you don't pick this up when you have the chance, you have no excuse whatsoever ! Don't pass it up !