|Playstation > Whats New > PlayStation Reviews > Staff Review|
|Developer:||Candlelight Studios Limited||OPTIONS:||
No.1 No.2 No.3
|Game Type:||Arcade Shoot-em-up||Memory Card|
|Review Date:||November 1998||Dual Shock|
Setting the Scene
We appear to be right in the middle of the shooting season. No sooner have our trigger fingers recovered from exhaustive rapid-firing on recent games such as Viper, Einhander, R-Types and N²O, when up pops another in the form of Assault. Now Telstar haven't really claimed too much success on the Playstation format, having fairly moderate success with past titles Wreckin Crew, Formula Karts and Bubsy 3D. However there still remains a fondness in my heart for their best PSX game to date - Excalibur 2555AD. Sweeping the board clean and loading up both barrels, Telstar aim to finally gain a firm base in the mainstream games market during 1999 with what looks like a fairly strong line up. The first bullet fired in anger has the name 'Assault' written on it. Prepare to take cover. The game's adventure begins in the once-utopian city of Arcadia, a city now lying in devastation from the impact of a giant object from the depths of space. With many of the population dead, injured or fleeing from impact site, reports indicate that a swarm of hideously mutated alien creatures is pouring from the crashed object, believed to be an alien craft. Players select to control either male or female characters Sgt Reno J Washington, Major Kelly Doyle. Both are heavily armed troopers, encased in robotic armor, who are part of a rapid deployment team specializing in heavy weapons.
Assault is a pure, unadulterated, scrolling shoot-em-up where the action has been captured in a classic arcade coin-op style. It delivers frenetic blasting gameplay for one or two players simultaneously over 40 massive deadly stages which are split into six distinct environments. Each is crammed with alien mutants. To deliver it's non-stop arcade game quality, Assault is constantly streaming graphical and game data from the CD making the whole experience an assault on the players' senses and reflexes.
Assault is one tasty looking game. In fact I would go on to say that it's probably the brightest and most colorful shooter I have witnessed on PSX to date. Both male and female characters have been constructed using polygons and, although quite small, they are easily identifiable from the hoards of 3D polygon alien creatures that charge forward incessantly. The lead characters appear in a quality opening intro where the muscular Sgt Reno J Washington and the buxom Major Kelly Doyle are stripped and then rigged for battle. It's all very titillating, while careful camera positioning will keep the purists at bay. One the action begins it is plainly obvious that every graphical trick in the book has been used to create maximum impact on the retina. There's translucency, transparencies, real-time lighting, 512x520 resolution, texture mapping, gouraud shading, animating textures and meshes, cross fading objects while objects have been stretched and morphed. In fact I will go as far as saying that half hourly breaks are well recommended, if not essential. The last time that I recall being hypnotised by a game in such a way was with N²O, only this time I found I couldn't put the control pad down. Do you think that programmers have finally found a way to link a game up directly with our minds? Frightening thought! I played through over a dozen levels and I found the vast range of environments and enemies to be very pleasing. Rigid platforms become broken bridges and unstable columns. Miniature aliens become formidable gorgoils. Solid ground turns into crumbling debris. Bog-standard Crab Bosses become terrifying invisible monsters. What I found most impressive were the levels that involved crossing a lake. The water effects are superb. Every creature that you blast breaks up into fragments and each segment causes an individual ripple on the surface. Reflections are almost as clear as if glancing in a mirror.
Sounds and Effects
The sound effects. Hmmm. Imagine.. BANG! BANG! BANG! CRASH! CRASH! CRASH! THUD! THUD! THUD! UGGH! UGGH! UGGH! KABOOOOM! KABOOOOM! KABOOOOM! CRUNCH! CRUNCH! CRUNCH!... all at the same time. Get the idea! Assault on your ear drums... that's for sure. The music is probably quite suitable considering that electronic disco tunes are making a comeback. Ahh, remember the days of the moog? It's wild. It's noisy. It's fitting!
Dropped into the shattered remains of the already-ravaged city, the players' objective is seek out and destroy the alien craft. Obviously, it's no quick stroll: Arcadia is rapidly being over-run with aliens intent on causing as much damage as possible to the players, the city and Arcadia's remaining residents. So many of these side scrolling shooters lack any imagination but from the very second your character leaps from the loading bay of the space shuttle you just know that a treat is in store. Miniature aliens are hatching from their eggs and heading straight for their first meal... a nibble at your characters ankles. Now this should cause little concern because your weapon may be directed down towards the ground. Unfortunately you also need to aim it a little higher because the baby aliens mummy and her relatives are charging towards you like there's no tomorrow. This up and downward shooting adds a further dimension to the gameplay. Hold on... we're getting a little ahead of ourselves here. Assault may be played by one or two players simultaneously. The two player mode involves both characters moving through the levels side by side blasting hordes of aliens enemies. There is no split-screen therefore expect the gameplay to follow a similar pattern to Re-Loaded where both players must cooperate and play keep up to achieve their goal. In the simultaneous two-player game, whole new areas of the game map are revealed offering action. In single player mode there are four difficulty settings and the option to switch on the weapon auto switch. Assault is Dual Shock compatible and the left stick works fine to direct your player around the open areas. However, I quickly switched back to the D-pad when negotiating a series of tricky jumps. Vibrations are adequate, but don't expect to pull a muscle. Both characters move on foot (360-degree rotational movement in 3D environment) fire current weapon, jump, fire smart bomb, look up and down, strafe (enables players to fire in one direction while walking in another) and Stand Ground (locks players position enabling player to rotate and fire weapon). Later in the game you get a chance to tackle a few levels on board a hover-bike. These levels serve to break the monotony of the game a little. Initially your chosen character begins on foot by plodding along a series of platforms at a reasonable pace. Suddenly the platforms become broken bridges and chaos erupts as space vehicles block your path, cargo containers fall from the sky and masses of aliens go on the rampage. From here on in the action is fast and furious. At the end of each section a Boss must be defeated therefore collection of power ups and weapons on your journey is essential. The player begins with a standard issue P-420 Multi-phase Pulse Rifle (Washington) or a D-16 Magnetic Bolt Accelerator (Doyle), however as obstacles are destroyed a bonus is revealed in the form of a health patch, weapon upgrade, an energy cell or an shield that lasts for a short period of time.
Value for Money
If you go a bundle on arcade shoot-em-ups then, boy, are you in for a treat with Assault. It's frantic from start to finish and with over 40 large stages to blast through, two player cooperative mode and four difficulty settings, this game should keep you occupied for quite a few weeks.
Assault is a fine looking game and a damn good shooter there are a
couple of flaws in the gameplay.
Now your standard side scrolling arcade shooter normally involves guiding a character, or craft, along a series of rails. Where Assault differs is that on many occasions your character must climb hand over hand across bottomless pits, jump across a series of crumbling platforms and leap over perilous gaps.
At these particular points in the game I found that I had to slow right down and take ultra care with each motion because it was so difficult to judge precisely where your character was standing (or hanging) before each leap. Unfortunately the action all around ceases to ease off and the bulk of your lives are lost through what I felt was no fault of my own.
This aside, if what turns you on is an all out blast feast then look no further than Telstar's Assault.