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Critic Reviews 70% add missing review

Adrenaline Vault, The (AVault) ( ) (90%)

There isn’t much else you could ask for in a game of this type. It has a thorough story line, excellent graphics and it is exceedingly configurable. The only question you need to ask yourself is, “Have I played this game before?” It is very similar to other games of this type, such as Descent and X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter. I would say that, if you are not experienced with games of this type, Hellbender would be an excellent introduction to this genre.

Jun 24th, 1997 · Windows · read review

Electric Games (89 out of 100) (89%)

The gameplay is very fast and furious, the baddies will dog you until you either blow them out of the sky, or vice-versa. There's not a boring moment to be had here. One noticeable improvement here is that your new craft can hover, something previously not possible, at least in Terminal Velocity. I do still miss the extra-long range scanners of that game, though. If you are a fan of either Terminal Velocity or Fury 3, this game is for you. You have some more maneuverability here, as well as some incredible new weapons and a plot. Lots of fun. Bottom Line: If you liked Fury3 and Terminal Velocity, this game is for you. If your video card supports DirectX, all the better. Fast action, and lots of it.

1996 · Windows · read review

Gamezilla (87 out of 100) (87%)

Had I only played Hellbender as a single-player game, I probably would have left it on the shelf with the many other decent, but not remarkable titles. Fortunately though, I played it multiplayer, and while it still doesn't crack the "legendary" ranks, it certainly moves up a notch from ordinary. Of all the Microsoft titles I have played, this one is at the top of the list; of all the flight combat sims I've played in the last year, this one is just the most fun and the smoothest fly with minimal archaic ALT+5+SPC+M keyboard combinations to get you killed in the thick of battle. It's a benchmark title for a company that many thought would be left for dead in the gaming realm by its more experienced elders. Wrong again. Hellbender rates a solid 87 out of 100, and Microsoft shows no signs of dying out of the gaming market anytime soon.

Nov 3rd, 1999 · Windows

Pelit (86 out of 100) (86%)

3D-tuesta huolimatta Hellbender on lopulta vain yksinkertainen rÀiskintÀpeli kymmenien muiden joukossa. Nautittavaa hupia hetkeksi, mutta vain, jos koneesta löytyy julmasti potkua.

Oct 1996 · Windows · read review

PC Multimedia & Entertainment (82 out of 100) (82%)

There's a lot of Terminal Velocity and Fury3 here, but there's far more attitude packed into Hellbender. And try not to forget that this is a whole new game. As I said in my preview, it may look like TV or Fury3 at a glance, but deeper down, it's the game that both Terminal Velocity and Fury3 wish they were. Neither of those games compelled me to play for more than a few sittings. That's not the case with Hellbender! If you don't have a 3D card, now is a good time to consider one. I just can't recommend this title to someone without such a device.

Aug 26th, 1996 · Windows · read review

PC Joker (80 out of 100) (80%)

Okay, fĂŒr von Konkurrenten wie „Descent“ verwöhnte Multiplayer sind die paar Abschnitte von Hellbender zu wenig und auch nicht komplex genug. Aber Einzelspieler sollten an dem feinen Gameplay, den cleveren Computergegnern und der hĂŒbschen 3D- Grafik mit ihren liebevollen Details durchaus Gefallen finden.

Feb 1997 · Windows

PC Games (B) (75%)

In fact, unless you are a huge fan of Fury 3 and Terminal Velocity and just have to have more of the same, I can't recommend HellBender in non-accelerated systems - it plays poorly on even high-end Pentium systems and just isn't compelling at all. The exact opposite is true if you have an accelerated PC. If you don't, Hellbender may make you take the fast step.

Nov 1996 · Windows

Gamesmania.de (75 out of 100) (75%)

Rundum gelungen, doch ein paar kleine Schönheitsfehler: die Gegner sind manchmal etwas schlecht zu erkennen. Schwer zu sagen, ob das nun beabsichtigte Tarnwirkung ist. Hinzu kommt die extrem unĂŒbersichtliche Karte, durch die die Labyrinthabschnitte manchmal ĂŒberhand nehmen. Durch die Kombination dieser beiden Effekte ist die Action nicht mehr ganz so schön locker-flockig wie bei Terminal Velocity. Andererseits ist durch die gelungene, nahtlose Kombination von Luft- und Bodenschlachten und labyrinthigem fĂŒr ein wenig Abwechslung gesorgt ist. Positiv zu Buche schlagen auch die verschiedenen Mehrspielermodi bis hin zu Matches ĂŒbers Internet - auch, wenn es uns genauso wenig wie bei Monster Truck Madness gelungen ist, ĂŒbers Netz zu zocken, bleiben noch lokales Netzwerk oder Modem.

1996 · Windows · read review

PC Games (Germany) (74 out of 100) (74%)

Microsoft verpaßte Fury3 schönere Grafiken und durch interessante Missionen eine spannende AtmospĂ€hre. Allerdings wurde das Rad deshalb nicht neu erfunden. Der Multiplayer-Modus ist ein nettes Gimmick, kann aber kaum zum Spielspaß beitragen. Daher ist Hellbender zwar ein solides Spiel, in der gerade anrollenden Spiele-Offensive von Microsoft aber nur ein weiterer Titel.

Oct 1996 · Windows

PC Action (Germany) (69 out of 100) (69%)

Fast! Hellbender zeigt, daß Microsoft auf dem richtigen Weg ist, aber in Sachen Gameplay noch aufholen muß. Spielerisch bietet Hellbender weniger Abwechslung und Anspruch als beispielsweise Descent 2 und kann deshalb als Windows 95-Spiel nur in grafischer Hinsicht und mit den Multiplayer-Modi auf sich aufmerksam machen. Die neuen Direct-Schnittstellen sind zwar leistungsfĂ€higer geworden, mich aber Ă€rgert es immer wieder, wenn sie nach der Installation immer noch die Treiber-Datenbank durcheinanderwĂŒrfeln.

Oct 1996 · Windows

PC Player (Denmark) (69 out of 100) (69%)

Det nye er, at din computer snakker med dig med Gillian Andersons stemme (Scully fra X-Files), men det gĂžr jo ikke spillet bedre (hvad bilder du dig ind? -red.) Er du den heldige ejer af et 3D-grafikkort, sker der selvfĂžlgeligt ting og sager med grafikken, men Hellbender er ikke i sig selv vĂŠrd at kĂžbe et 3D-kort for.

1996 · Windows

Entertainment Weekly (B-) (67%)

So the company spent tens of millions to create its own high-tech game division, and the result is discs like Hellbender — a futuristic, heavy-on-the-weaponry air-combat simulator that approximates the level of Wing Commander III (released two years ago). You can't blame Microsoft's programmers for trying, but I'd rather they applied their talents to stuff for which they seem to have more of an affinity, like kids' activity titles and word-processing programs.

Dec 20th, 1996 · Windows · read review

Power Play (64 out of 100) (64%)

Nichts Neues aus dem Hause Microsoft: „Hellbender“ ist solide Action-Hausmannskost, die zwar zwischendurch mal an den Monitor fesselt, aber langfristig kaum ĂŒberzeugt. Was zum Abreagieren in der Mittagspause geeignet ist, muß fast zwangslĂ€ufig ohne spielerischen Tiefgang auskommen und kann bei weitem nicht motivieren wie anspruchsvollere Programme: wer sich mit Titeln wie „Descent“ oder diversen Weltraum-Sims Ă  la „TieFighter“ beschĂ€ftigt hat, dĂŒrfte sich von „Hellbender“ trotz der grĂ¶ĂŸtenteils beeindruckenden Grafik schnell angeödet abwenden. Anders sieht es im Netzwerk aus: Hier ist weniger oft mehr und das Programm kann seinen einfachen Charme richtig entfalten, außerdem hat Microsoft sinnvolle Features wie die unterschiedlichen Raumschiffe eingebaut und obendrein interessante designte Multiplayer-Level spendiert, auch wenn es schon etwas mehr als nur drei hĂ€tten sein dĂŒrfen.

Oct 1996 · Windows · read review

GameSpot (6 out of 10) (60%)

Even with these new elements, as well as the expected new arsenal of weapons and enemies, Hellbender is beginning to creak with age. The graphics tend to be blocky, and are often more bland than those found in Fury3 or Terminal Velocity. Frame rates are pretty poor on most systems even in low-res, and in hi-res they're just appalling. Some new effects, such as rain and lightning, clutter the screen without being effective. This game engine is getting old, and it's about a year overdue for retirement. Microsoft should have let it fade into the sunset - maybe get it a nice condo in Boca Raton - but instead we get another tired retread of a system that's outstayed its welcome.

Nov 15th, 1996 · Windows · read review

Computer Games Magazine ( ) (60%)

Overall, Hellbender is a schizophrenic product, one likely to polarize gamers. Those with fast machines and/or 3D accelerator cards are likely to derive some enjoyment from it, while those on the bottom end of the system requirements will dislike it. It's a bit tough to keep from straddling the fence on a judgment of the game, which is perhaps the clearest review one can give. It's just not that inspirational - equally hard to love or hate.

1996 · Windows

PC Player (Germany) ( ) (60%)

Ein zweites Descent ist Hellbender nicht gerade. Obwohl das Spiel das Zeug dazu hĂ€tte: Interessante 3D-GelĂ€nde mit kombiniertem Landschafts/Tunnelflug, nette Beleuchtungseffekte, unterschiedliche Waffen und Gegner und KampfauftrĂ€ge. Obendrein hat Hellbender auch noch eine knackige Musik und eine mit Videoclips extrem stimmungsvoll in Szene gesetzte Story. Das alles genĂŒgt mir aber nicht, wenn ich beim allerersten Level rund eine Stunde benötige, um ĂŒberhaupt herauszufinden, was ich tun soll.

Oct 1996 · Windows

Computer Gaming World (CGW) ( ) (60%)

Still HELLBENDER is a pretty good game, and a big step forward for flying shooters. If the same thought that went into the look of the game had gone into gameplay, it could have been great.

Dec 1996 · Windows

World Village (Gamer's Zone) ( ) (60%)

So, Hellbender, the third in the Terminal Velocity Saga, is just on par with Terminal Velocity itself. Not a heck of a lot has changed, and that's a bad thing. Hellbender is a mediocre shoot em up with dazzling but slow graphics and Gillian Anderson's voice. If you liked Terminal Velocity and you've got the horsepower to run it, you might like Hellbender. If not, I wouldn't recommend the frustration.

1996 · Windows · read review

Online Gaming Review (OGR) (6 out of 10) (60%)

The latest in the series of flight-sim-lite games that began with Terminal Velocity, Hellbender demonstrates the thinking behind the popular phrase "Quit while you're ahead." Graphics and sound aside, there's little new here, although it provides some short-lived kicks and will help you show off that hot-rod 3D accelerator. All things considered, Hellbender is too slow, too repetitive and too frustrating to provide long-term fun.

Nov 20th, 1996 · Windows

High Score (3 out of 5) (60%)

Grafiken i Hellbender kan man fÄ riktigt snygg, fast dÄ gÀller det förstÄs att man har en svinsnabb dator och helst Àven ett grafikkort med 3D-chip. Annars fÄr man hÄlla tillgodo med ganska halvmuggig grafik om man vill att det ska röra sig mjukt och smidigt.

Dec 1996 · Windows

Game Revolution (C-) (42%)

1996 marks the first year that the Microsoft Corporation, famed for its operating systems, programming languages, and office utilities has decided to make a serious appeal to the gaming market. Some of these titles, such as MS Golf, Monster Truck Madness, and The Neverhood have been good approaches to the entertainment genre. Other titles, such as Full Court Press and this particular title, Hellbender, have not been so good.

Jun 5th, 2004 · Windows · read review

Player Reviews

Nice 3D, lots of action, but the key/switch hunts can be frustrating

The Good
Lots of action, lots of things to shoot at, good graphics for its time, actually supports 640x480 resolution, combination of challenges, from air to ground to underground, some enemies only vulnerable to certain weapons

The Bad
Lousy draw distance that's not adjustable, it's all kill kill kill with no variation, almost impossible to tell if you're doing damage against the regular enemies, razor thin plot

The Bottom Line
Hellbender is a quintessential 3D shooter that lets you go in any direction and shoot anything (unless you're not supposed to). The razor-thin plot has just enough to get you started... As the sole remaining pilot in an experimental fighter, you are the last hope of humanity against the evil Bion invaders. Yipee. Where have I heard that before?

Once you're inside the game, it's time to get the adrenalin pumping. You'll be shooting at enemy fighters in the air, ground defenses and structures (and even some mobile units) on the ground, as well as explore tunnels and such for more objectives.

Your craft does have shields, which can be replenished by diverting power from main engines. However, most of your energy will be used by the weapons systems, as firing guns actually does use up energy here. If you deplete the weapons energy, it will fire slower and slower. Thus, managing energy becomes a challenge. I see this energy canister. Should I use this on more weapons energy to kill things faster, or should I dump it into shields so I can survive longer?

You get a nice variety of weapons. The default valkyrie gun is decent and with full energy can be quite devastating. You also get dispersion cannon (kind of energy shotgun), two types of lasers, dumbfire missile, air to air missile, air to ground missile, dual-use missile, exploding missile, recharge missile, and a big exploding mine to wrap up the list. Each of the weapons feel different (except the two lasers, which feels about the same) and are used at different times against different enemies.

Each of the worlds is different, from jungle scapes to desert to volcanic to asteroid field. Part of the fun is the explore the underground passages for hidden caches of weapon pods which you can then crack and claim the contents for yourself. Indeed, it's the only way to get more ammo for the missiles and such. Just think of it as your normal "powerup". Your ship also happens to have infinite storage space... It's not unusual to stock up hundreds of missiles and mines in your ship at all (esp. on easy level of difficulty)

The enemies are relentless, and often they seem to pop up from nowhere. Your craft is not that fast and often enemy can chase you down, but there is afterburner (called turbo here) available. However, turbo fuel is limited. The limited view distance doesn't help. Fortunately, many of the ground units can only shoot flat (i.e. they can't aim upward).

Every once in a while you run into a "boss" creature who guards the level. While they can be fairly tough, they aren't that hard to kill with sufficient firepower (and if you don't shoot too much you should have plenty of ordnance piled on already).

The main problem with the game is it cannot quite decide whether it wants to be a pure shooter or be a bit of a puzzle. In the later levels, you run into "puzzles", like "push these switches and see which one opens the next section". If you guess wrong, most of the time nothing happens. Every once in a while, you run into a "crushing celing" switch. In that case, you better have a save game to restore from...

While I don't mind the action and the puzzles, the puzzles breaks up the momentum of the game too much. And if you don't die from the enemies but die in a puzzle's crushing ceiling, it just makes you want to toss the game out the window.

Some enemies are resistant to certain types of weapons, which can be troublesome later as you can't tell if you're really doing damage against them or not. With the bosses, there's a bargraph, but not for the regular enemies.

The graphics were state-of-the-art back then, but the low drawing distance is not adjustable, even on a higher-end system. Frame rates are high and graphics are decent (for its time), with pretty intricate terrain and enemy ships/structures (again, for its time). It actually uses 3D acceleration and actually runs fine in Windows 98 (for a game from 1996, it's remarkable).

All in all, Hellbender is as much action game as it is a technical demo of what Windows is capable of as a game machine. It has some of everything and should still delight action fans.

by Kasey Chang (4601) on May 24th, 2004 · Windows

A fossil, yet a gem

The Good
Amount of Weapons it had; see full review below.

The Bad
Length; see full review below.

The Bottom Line
Let's get to brass tacks and nails. Hellbender is old, ancient even by tech standards. Yet, this game still stands up on its feet. Made in 1996, and cutting edge for the time, Hellbender took the player across 8 planets, each with 3 "Episodes" (missions). This game, alongside Deadly Tide, were the spotlight of what Windows exclusives were like. Featuring 10 different weapons, and even a secret weapon scattered across the game's 8 planets, it was a game that, toward the end, fit to its tagline "Shoot to Kill. Think to Win." quite well. While I sadly don't own the game anymore (as of this review, yet), I can tell you that, barring a little setup issues (mostly getting the installer to run), it plays perfectly fine on modern hardware. If you can find a copy, take it for a whirl.

by Jack Henninger (1) on Jan 5th, 2021 · Windows

Plus 7 player ratings without reviews

Contributors to this Entry

Critic reviews added by Cavalary, Scaryfun, Daedolon, jean-louis, Patrick Bregger, Big John WV, Wizo, Apogee IV, Jeanne, Parf.