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Powerslave (PlayStation)

Mature
ESRB Rating
Genre
Perspective
Theme
82
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.8
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Luke Kavanagh (4)
Written on  :  Jan 30, 2012
Platform  :  PlayStation
Rating  :  4.25 Stars4.25 Stars4.25 Stars4.25 Stars4.25 Stars

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Summary

One of the PS1's best games

The Good

At the start of this game, you have naught but a machete in hand, and an intriguing stone building before you. A few hours in, you're jumping (and soon, gliding) across precarious platforms, swimming through gloomy caves and silent sunken temples, sprinting through hails of fireballs and blasting monsters, inanimate objects and suspicious-looking walls into tiny, tiny pieces: all the while guided by the epic voice of Don LaFontaine. This is Exhumed: a game so ahead of its time that we didn't see its like until Metroid Prime.

The various weapons and powerups are great fun to use, and it's always satisfying to discover a new one (bombs, for example) and with it discover new areas in previous levels (say by levelling a wall). As your repertoire increases, so too do the levels become more varied: with more platforming, swimming or action sequences in different areas. There's plenty to do as well - a shrill bleeping will alert you to pieces of a transmitter array, dotted around the game-world, that serve an important purpose; and the most persistent of players will find little effigies of the development team dispersed throughout the game, which give completionists more reason still to revisit earlier levels with new abilities in a bid to unearth the elusive collectibles.

The difficulty curve is pitched quite nicely, as each level in turn is difficult at first, but easy with practise. Deaths are rarely cheap: you can get the hang of any bit of the game with practise. That said, the game can get very unforgiving: it is there to be conquered as much as experienced. This game has aged remarkably well: whilst weapons and enemies are sprites, they are rich in detail (and, visually, stand up far better than 3D characters of the time); and the levels still look decent, if basic and a little rough. Most areas are dripping with atmosphere, helped in no small part by the game's fantastic soundtrack.

The Bad

Like I said, your mileage may vary on the difficulty. Later levels certainly can prove frustrating, as there are no checkpoints: dying will restart the level, with the health and items you entered with.

Pre-dating analogue control, this game uses tank controls (to look about requires a button to be held down): and so the action aspect of the game hasn't aged nearly as well as other facets of the gameplay. The game also suffers lag at times, when a great number of enemies are killed simultaneously or a particularly large piece of architecture is destroyed.

Having only played the PS1 edition, I cannot comment on other versions.

The Bottom Line

Don't approach this game as you would a first-person shooter: the gunplay is far overshadowed by the adventure and platforming elements. Nothing short of epic at the time, it remains a brilliant, and nearly unique, game.