|Playstation > Whats New > PlayStation Reviews > Staff Review|
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|Game Type:||Shoot-em-up||Memory Card|
|Review Date:||November 1998||Dual Shock/Analog Compatible|
Setting the Scene
When I heard the first rumblings of the possibility of Activision bringing an updated version of the classic Asteroids game to the Playstation my mind immediately snapped back to my misguided youth. I can remember the first time I laid eyes on an Asteroids machine, it was on the boardwalk of Sleazeside Park in Jersey at a crowded arcade. As usual, I had smashed a few parking meters, had some spare change to burn and was ready to play Space Invaders when I saw a crowd of delinquents gathered around a new game. Naturally, I kicked, punched and shoved my way to the front, it was then that Asteroids first caught my eye. With its clean vector graphics and smooth moving objects I was immediately hypnotized...I had to play it. After some "gentle" persuasion, I took my place in front of the game and promptly proceeded to dump my newfound fortune into the cabinet.
When you talk about Asteroids, you are talking about a game that virtually created a genre all on its own. Asteroids is a 2D shooter with 3D graphics that will virtually leave your trigger finger numb with its non-stop action.
We're talking a major facelift here in the graphics department, people. The ships, asteroids and other space faring objects are now delivered to you in 3D polygons. This means that asteroids look like asteroids and spaceships like spaceships. The backgrounds now actually contain something when compared to the original title...you get planets, black holes and other beautifully rendered scenes all set within the blackness of space and the twinkling of stars. The overall impact of the imagery is quite startling when compared to the rather sterile graphics of the original Asteroids game. There is an abundance of particle effects and light-sourching used to depict explosions, solar flares, flames and weapons. I felt that the graphics gave the game a fresh new excitement and compare favorably with other 4th generation titles. Very nice indeed.
Sounds and Effects
A nice sedate musical score drones on in the background creating a constant tug to your twitch muscles. Smooth synthesized melodies drape the scenes with warm, spacey music that compliments the frenzied action surprisingly well. The sounds are a huge step up from the bleeps found in the original title... about the only thing that vaguely resembles the original game is the occasional constant bass thump in some of the levels that seems to beat in sync with your heart. Get ready to enjoy tasty weapon sounds, futuristic space noises and scorching explosions. There is also some nice voice intros at the beginning of each zone that lay out the scenario before you jump in and begin your assault.
The main appeal of the original Asteroids game was of course the gameplay. Hell, that's about all the games of that time had to offer! It was with some trepidation that I popped the new Asteroids disc into my Playstation, worrying to myself "had they sapped the soul out of the original game to bring it into the '90's"? The premise of the original game was a simple one. Pilot your little ship through space, destroying asteroids. Of course it wasn't really all that simple...as you fired on an asteroid it would break apart into two smaller pieces. Each of these asteroids would then break into two even smaller chunks when fired upon. With each shot you would also send the flight path of the new, smaller asteroid into a different direction. The little guys were also faster and a lot harder to hit. Oh, there were also space ships that would appear at certain times in the game. These enemy ships tended to have pin point accuracy when firing upon your craft. The game was devilishly addictive. The new game opens with a nice little CG rendered FMV that sets the scene for what's to come. You are then plopped into the menu screen where you get to select from one or two players, load a saved game, set the difficulty (normal, expert or hardcore!), music and sound effects volume, screen adjustments and ship selection. I was pleased to see that multiple ships could be chosen each one with its own specialty. Some have better shield while others are more maneuverable. This adds a nice personal touch to the game as some players will prefer a quicker ship with good shield while beginners may wish to have a ship with great shields and better handling. It was also nice to see support of analog control as well as the dual shock feature. The analog control allows for precision movement while the shock feature adds an addition element of immersion into the game itself. I do however feel that the shock feature could have been used a bit more effectively throughout the game though. After having selected everything to suit my tastes, it was time to test drive the actual and see how it lived up to my fond memories of the original. The game drops you into Zone 1, the Sigma Delta quadrant. Your goal is simple; clear the area of asteroids while avoiding enemy spaceships. Right from the start I immediately realized that everything the original game had to offer and more was available in the new Asteroids. The simple yet heart-pounding gameplay was still intact, but now you really get a sense of scope and feeling of being in space. The ship movements still consist of the basic 360-degree turning radius and afterburner ignition to set your ship in motion. Being in space, any push forward sets your ship in perpetual motion that can only be resolved by turning your ship in a new direction and firing up the engines again. The results normally set your craft off in an entirely new direction...often resulting in the gamer colliding with a stray asteroid or other foreign object. This simple yet nail biting control scheme is one of the things that makes this game so challenging. To avoid an imminent collision, you will often send your ship hurtling through space, off one side of the screen, only to appear on the other side...with another asteroid dead ahead in your path. Your default weapon is still the same gun that spits out tiny projectiles that stream through space. The faster you are able to press the controller button the more ammo you can spew forward. The shots also still leave one side of the playing field and appear on the other. This simple little twist has gotten me out of more than one tight spot in the heat of battle. The game also features a slew of power-ups that appear in form of glass vials, floating through your region of space. Carefully pilot you ship into one and you receive its special powers. Power-ups consist of shield recharges, free ships, bonus points, and some outrageous super weapons. These wildcard weapons include homing missiles, plasma swords, mines, lasers and a good deal of others. Picking up a GunSet will activate a rotating satellite that spins around your ship and shoots a steady stream of destruction. Getting Armageddon will enable you to wipe out a slew of stuff as your ship spins and fires off laser blasts. Of course with weapons of such great destruction there is often penalties to pay. Using some of these super weapons will cause your ships power to drain...once spent you are momentarily defenseless until your ship recharges. Each zone consists of multiple levels (14+) and has its own theme associated with it as well as its own objective. Some zones require you to clear rubble to make way for friendly cargo ships all while avoid being sucked into a black hole, while another has you protecting earth from an onslaught of asteroids. There is also a lot more to avoid and destroy in this version of Asteroids. In additional to breaking up and destroying asteroids and blowing away enemy spaceships, you now have to deal with new crystal asteroids that can regenerate if you don't destroy them fast enough. There is also a ton of space debris, fireball comets and asteroids that simply cannot be destroyed. The enemy encounters have also been increased for this game. Now players will have to contend not only with simple ships firing at you but ships that will now divide into two even more potent enemies. Ships that leave a dangerous nuclear exhaust trail that you will need to avoid and even Kamikaze craft that will nose-dive right into your hapless little ship. Got a friend handy? You will be happy to know that Asteroids also features a solid two-player mode. Grab a buddy to help you clear out the assigned regions of space...just be watchful for stray fire! Wrapping things up, I am pleased to announce that I felt this new version of Asteroids offers all of the classic gameplay elements of the original while adding a whole new depth of play that was previously absent from the original. It still retains the same frenetic pace but now adds super spiffed up graphics and sounds effects to enhance the overall experience even further than the first title. I found it quite literally a blast a blast to play...thank you Activision for staying faithful to the original Asteroids while bringing the game forward with a natural progression in technology.
Value for Money
The game features 5 zones (missions) that each includes up to 15 levels of steadily increasing challenges. Each zone is also more difficult than the last one, with increased enemies and more difficult objectives to meet. I was also pleasantly surprised to find that hidden somewhere in the game is the original version of Asteroids! Yep, keep your eyes open while you are out in deep space because there is a way to unlock this little gem. Guess what though... aside from its nostalgic appeal you will ultimately find yourself much more enthralled with the new version... it's that good!
you are a fan of "twitch" shooters, Asteroids is a dream come
true game. The action is non-stop and will often leave you breathless
and frustrated as you helplessly sprawl into an oncoming object. Perhaps
that's not fair to pigeon hole the game though...its timeless gameplay
elements will most certainly appeal to a mass market of people both from
the "older" generation of game players and new gamers alike.
The graphics and sound effects are splendid and add a whole new depth to this re-release of a classic. It will leave little doubt as to why this game was originally so popular...its "grace under pressure" style will have you hooked right from the word "go"!
Okay, I just gotta say it, "Asteroids rocks!"....