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Forsaken Review

Publisher - Acclaim
Developer - Probe
Platform - N64
Type - Action
Score - 6/10

The story of Forsaken is a sad one. Some silly dick played around with the fabric of time and matter and, well, destroyed life on earth. You are sent in to evict some bad guys who are after the same thing as you. The spoils of war. A basic story admittedly, however the game-play of the N64 version is mission objective dependent. In mission one, all you have to do is clear the level of any bad guys. In mission three, you have to seek and destroy a boss along with all the other enemies. Basically, each mission objective comes down to find, defeat, protect, rescue, infiltrate, etc., although things are not so simple. In one of the missions, after you complete the primary objective, you have to return to the beam in point. The only problem with this is that all of the enemies reincarnate and you have one minute to get your butt out of there!

Did I mention that Forsaken is hard? I have chosen easy (with the other choices being medium and hard), and quite frankly, it isn’t! This game is truly for people who want a challenge. When you go down the easy path, you can only save after four missions. This makes for some hair raising scare the shit out of you addictive game play. The first eight missions went by with little resistance, but as I write this review, I am still having trouble on mission eleven. It is one of those protect levels. So to give my ego a boost, I thought I would give the multiplay mode a go.

In multiplay mode, you can either go one on one against three of your friends (plus yourself to make four in total), and/or choose up to three CPU controlled opponents. One big tick to Iguana for including this feature. Only two scenarios exist whereby the last man standing wins glory, or the player who accumulates the greatest number of kills is victor. After choosing one of the eight bikes (yeah they are the hover types), and then selecting from eight different levels, I set the adversaries to easy. Ai-currumba! They kicked my sorry little butt! If you find the opponents all too easy, then there is several other settings up to ‘nails’. Although the multiplay mode seems to lack the variety of scenarios that GoldenEye did, it does have several ups on the 64 classic.

The first as I have already stated is the CPU controlled opponents with the added benefit of being able to add one to three CPU’s to make up for any lack of friends. The second is the ability to hide or show the CPU’s. So if you don’t want to confine yourself to a quarter screen, then this option will extend your playing dollar. Thirdly, the frame rate and graphic detail doesn’t drop an inch. During some furious frenzy’s with my CPU buddies, the room would be ablaze with ‘Transpulse’ cross fire and ‘titan’ missiles, and seldom did it drop in frame rate. Impressive indeed. And last but not least, as you have probably deciphered from my comments so far, the CPU AI in multiplay is incredibly realistic. It's just like having your best friend playing with you. Not only will the opponents seek you out and try to destroy you, but they will also go for the other CPU’s. Added to this, if their energy is low, they will retreat and try and find shield power ups or suicide (to your detriment) when all is lost.

As you may have already gathered from the screen shots on the internet or in magazines, the visuals in Forsaken are pure eye candy. The real time lighting of weapon fire is so dazzling that sometimes I would waste a round or two just to watch in bewilderment. The most striking primary weapon which brings me joy, is the ‘transpulse’. When fired it looks like a boomerang, omits a hot red/orange glow which fills a narrow corridor, and then bounces off any wall it may hit. If you happen to pick up a ‘Golden Pod’ (a primary weapon power-up), the transpulse is accompanied by several small balls of fire. Yummi! In your arsenal, you have a secondary weapon which can take out enemies in one well directed hit. The 'Titan' is most impressive as far as visual splendour is concerned. When you fire this baby off, it tracks the enemy (no matter where they go) and explodes in bright burst of yellowish white. I can’t begin to do any justice in explaining how these look, so I will simply state that this game truly shows off the 64's potential.

The atmosphere in each level exudes a post-apoplectic dreariness, however this is no ‘doomed’ marine soldier game. The walls glisten with lighting and texture effects all with the trusty help of the 64’s gouraud shading. Subsequently, when you fire off a dozen multi-coloured shots across a greenish/blue room, the mixture of colours may have you thinking that you are in playing some sort of Christmas game. But hey, it works and it *will* make your jaw drop.

The control of your biker in Forsaken took a little learning, however after playing around with the four preset control types, I found the Turok method worked best. This game exhausts almost every single button on the 64’s controller. The type four (Turok style) set up is as follows: D pad = select primary/secondary weapon; Analogue = direction; C buttons = forward/back, strafe left/right; A & B buttons = ascent and descent; R button = secondary weapon fire; Z button = primary weapon fire. I often found it hard to move my fingers to the A and B buttons to dodge oncoming fire, but on the whole this set up works well. I couldn’t imagine those poor PSX or PC gamers however. ;-)

The sound on Forsaken is a mixed bag of good to, "oh not again"! Several techno tracks make their presence felt with some ample pumping on my surround sound amp. However, I soon found myself tiring of them as they are only about a minute or two in length and repeat. You can change the track during gameplay (this includes multi-play), as well as the ability to alter music and sound effect volumes. I have found that only the weaponry works in Pro-logic surround, and the music not so convincing. On a more positive note though, when played really loud, this game really gets the juices going with a satisfying low spectrum rumble on a willing sub-woofer.

Well with such a glowing report, it is time once again to visit Chris’ problem section. My main concern with Forsaken is the lack of detail in the instruction manual about how the game branches out. From what I have read on the internet, (and of course everything is always correct on the internet isn’t it boys and girls?), a branching system exists like Star Fox (a.k.a. Lylat Wars in PAL land). To my knowledge, if you complete a given level in a specific time, you are then able to branch out on to other levels. However, when you see the level select screen, it is very bare and dark and in no way does it give any indication as to the full extent of travel available. If anyone out there knows more than I, please e-mail me.

My second gripe is the difficulty coupled with the inability to save on a regular basis. From what I have gathered so far, (and again this draws back to a poor instruction manual), on the easy setting, you are only able to save after four complete missions. Perhaps on medium you can only save after five or six missions, and hell, why not have no saves on hard! It is just too much to ask of any gamer. I wonder if the PC community has this problem, or are they smugly sitting back in their freedom to save at any stage during a mission? Life is not fair!

Other than these gripes, this game is truly a ‘AAA’ title from Acclaim/Iguana. It is rumble pack compatible, and don’t forget to pick up a controller pack so you can save your progress. With over 15 missions, 25 weapons, a bonus battle stage or two, and a well thought out multi-player mode, I would highly recommend this game to any experienced gamer. I am certain that those kids who are more prone to seek out cheat codes instead of persisting with such formidable game play will not enjoy Forsaken. But in my books, Forsaken would have to be the best game so far in '98. Buy it now!