Written by  :  Satoshi Kunsai (2093)
Written on  :  Feb 26, 2004
Platform  :  SEGA Saturn

13 out of 13 people found this review helpful

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Only place where it feels most at home...

The Good

I used to have a time where 1st person shooters were my thing, despite the fact that I am more of a console person than a computer person. So naturally, my first crack at PowerSlave was the PC version.

Despite some cool themes, ideas, and more, I had one big problem that plagued me as I played the PC version: it didn't feel like a computer style FPS. I'll explain more on that later.

So, whilst hunting through a store some friends of mine own, lo and behold I came across the console versions of PowerSlave. Needing to fill a few gaps in my severely lacking Saturn library, I picked up the Saturn version of PS, and just for comparison's sake, the PlayStation version.

Out of all three, the Saturn version is the best one. More on that, but first, a retrospective look on the game itself.

The game starts with a small cutscene explaining that the Egyptian city of Karnak was taken over by hostile alien forces (aren't they all now? ^_^), and sealed off from the rest of the world. People were being mummified alive and horribly mutated, and from one survivor's testimony, the aliens wish to find the mummy of the great Pharaoh Ramses, thinking that he will hold the key to conquering all of Earth. So, as a rough and ready commando armed to the teeth, you're parachuted into the valleys of Egypt, hoping to stop the alien forces before they can resurrect Ramses.

So, as in any other 1st person shooter, you shoot enemies, solve some puzzles, and make your way to the exit. Along the way at certain levels, the spirit of Ramses will inform you of the alien's progress (for a dead guy, he's awfully well informed, ain't he? ^_^), and let you know of certain nasty surprises in some stages. You also have to fight a boss after every 4 stages, and some of these are quite nasty, especially the fight with the evil God of Egypt, Set.

But should I leave out mentioning the enemies? Hell no! Keeping with the Egyptian theme, most of the enemies you fight are pulled straight from Egyptian mythology, from Anubis soldiers, to scorpion demons, from scarab beetles, to Set himself, most enemies look right at home in the stages, which have some nice layouts and designs. Some stages are a bit long, so you get checkpoints to return to in case you get killed.

Weapons in this game are quite minimal, with only 7 normal weapons and one you can get only by letting a certain enemy (okay, okay, the mummies) shoot you. You get a machete, a six-shooter pistol, a machine gun, grenades, and a couple of mystical weapons like the Gauntlet of Ra, which will make crispy work of any nearby enemy. Your secret weapon is the Mummy's Staff, which is activated by getting shot by a mummy's skull, and being TURNED into a mummy! Quite a simple and SICK weapon too: raise up, mumble something, slam it down (BOOM!!!!), everything around you is instantly dusted, and you revert back to yourself laughing quite sadistically, heh heh...

For control, the Saturn version DOES take the cake. There's support for the 3D Control Pad that came with Sega's NiGHTS: Into Dreams, and trust me: I can't play the game without it. You get the analog stick to move, the D-Pad to strafe, and plenty of buttons for every function needed in the game. My biggest problem with the PC version was that you could barely reconfigure the controls, and there was lack of joystick support. The PS1 version lacked analog support, and the control scheme there was too wonky to even work half right.

Graphic wise, the game's graphics are best on the Saturn version. Everything is nice and crisp, moves quickly, and is chock full of detail, even up close. Looks like Lobotomy managed to wring every ounce of power the Saturn had in it, because unlike the PS1 version, there's no slowdown, and the game seems to be running the Saturn's hi-res graphics mode. The sounds are rather good, with lots of variety in the enemies, ambiance, and weapons, but they sound a tiny bit "boxy" on the Saturn. Not enough to really warrant a downpoint, though (then again it just may be my TV that sounds like that). It is, however, the music that shines through. Some people don't get it sometimes, but music IS a driving force behind a lot of games, and PowerSlave's soundtrack, while it may be overshadowed by other games, fits EXTREMELY well with the game's environment, and has plenty of variety between tracks. And since it's also playing straight from the CD, you can use it as a CD soundtrack for on-the-go fun. (Note: the PC version has the same thing; a CD soundtrack, but the PS1 version uses XA audio, so you can't use that version as a CD soundtrack.)

The Bad

I did have a few niggles about the game, though. This isn't the BEST game ever, mind you...

One thing that bugged me was that a lot of the stages were just too damn freaking LONG, and you got two checkpoints per stage, and you didn't get to save until you completed the ENTIRE stage. It did get annoying because some stages took up to FIFTEEN minutes just to complete!!

Another thing was that you had limited lives (see what I mean by this being more of a console shooter?), but at least you could take an unbelievable walloping before biting the dust, and at least there were a few 1-Ups in some stages, but you could only have up to 5 extra lives...no more.

And finally: a limited assortment of weapons eventually meant that it was all going to come down to just one weapon that you'd really need. Yep: the machine gun was about all you really needed since it could damage anyone. The mystical weapons were more novelty than anything, and the machete and pistol were just too weak for anything. At least you had that Mummy's Staff to look forward to...

The Bottom Line

Although not the crowning achievement of first-person shooters, PowerSlave was still quite fun, and most enjoyable on consoles. I would recommend, however, that Saturn owners find it for their giant black tank, as that version had the best features. The PlayStation version unfortunately suffered from a wacky control scheme and often nasty slowdown, and the PC version was just too plain for my tastes.

And beware of Set...EVIL, I tell you!! EEEEEEVILLLLL!!!!