|Playstation > Whats New > PlayStation Reviews > Staff Review|
|A.P.I Review:||BLAST RADIUS|
No.1 No.2 No.3
|Distributor:||Psygnosis||1-2 Player Link-up|
|Game Type:||3D Space Shoot-em-up||Memory Card|
|Review Date:||July 1998||Analog Compatible|
Setting the Scene
Remember how you laughed heartily at Rebel Assault 2, glanced casually at Agile Warrior, stared prolonging at Wing Commander 4, shut your eyes completely at Independence Day before being totally transfixed by the stunning Colony Wars? You don't? I'll explain. If there's one thing that the PSX has in abundance it must be futuristic flight shoot-em-ups but there are so few around worth sharing your hard earned cash with. Colony Wars finally put the record straight setting a precedence that developers must strive to better in much the same way that the Gran Turismo team did with the racing genre. Blast Radius may not be the sequel to last years space shooter but it does draw heavily on it's influence with 3D high resolution visuals and responsive Analog compatible controls. The main difference being the gameplay, which in this instance is more of a pure arcade blaster. So what's it all about? You play the part of Kayne the sole surviving warrior of a legendary unit of space fighters, the Wolf Squadron. Your comrades gone, you roam the universe fighting for anyone who will give you a job. Those who destroyed your friends now plan to attack a friendly, innocent race, the Vorn who appeal for your help. They're offering you sacks of gold to save them and you're driven by revenge to rid the galaxy of the evil Kotan-Kai and so the battle begins.
Blast Radius is a fast and furious 3D space shoot-em-up, combining next- generation graphics with classic arcade game-play. Your task is to rid the universe of a brutal enemy in this high-powered space shoot-em-up from Psygnosis.
Blast Radius opens with the now customary CG intro, which, although quite short in duration, simply oozes quality. In a similar vein to that of Colony Wars, the high standard of the fully rendered opening is amazingly surpassed by the in-game graphics. Obviously the lads at Psygnosis have set a trend that they intend to follow. The 3D-engine offers staggering high-res graphics at 30 frames per second allowing the beautifully textured enemy ships to smoothly twist and turn as they avoid the incoming fire. The inclusion of a protective force-field to each craft offers further realism to the raging battle as a blue sparkle surrounds the enemy ships with each direct hit. This continues until their shield gradually deteriorates. To give an indication of how much damage has been caused a small blue health bar is shown below the craft and reduces with every connecting blast from your piercing laser weapon. Once through their protective layer a full red health bar suddenly appears indicting that you are now striking metal so the sparks can really begin to fly. Just before the enemy goes down he seems to lose control as smoke and flames engulf the ship before exploding into a brilliant ball of fire. The lens flare is truly amazing as each craft reflects the brilliance of the sun in real time while every blinding eruption reflects across the window of your cockpit. The stunning graphics also include many unique environmental elements such as satellites, wormholes, asteroids, cloaked planets and kamikaze drones which are all highlighted by real-time lighting effects. There are three very different viewing angles of which each one has its occasional advantages. When entering into a dogfight with an enemy craft the perfect camera angle is the first person perspective. Looking directly out through the cockpit window allows you to tail tight up behind the targeted craft following every weave and turn they make. However, during the missions, which involve tasks such as defending a rather large mother ship from multiple enemy attack, the behind craft, or far views are much preferred. This is due to the fact that you can monitor precisely how close you are actually flying to the parent vessel, thus avoiding a fatal collision.
Sounds and Effects
Good marks are in order for the tasteful in-game music that finds a respectable balance between futuristic synthesized tunes and Electro rock. It all sounds like something that may have been penned by German '70's outfit Tangerine Dream (strangely enough there is a track in there titled Tang Dream). Another track called Adenoid, sounds like a combination of the musical styles made famous by ZZ Top and Black Sabbath (oops, now I'm really showing my age). The weaponry effects are extremely well handled. In fact I slipped on the headphones (Sony digital, of course) and must have looked a right tit ducking and weaving my head around as I dodged the incoming lasers. With the music completely switched off I noticed there was a distinct haunting hollow sound in the background that really portrayed the ambience of little old you being all alone in big old space. Most disturbing. I suggest that you ease the music volume down to about the half way mark and pump up the sound effects for a right rollicking good combination.
Blast Radius offers four different crafts, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, 32 distinct enemies, and a whopping 17 different weapons, each with their own uses and special effects. After tinkering around in the options screen you are required to select the craft that you wish to take into battle. There are slight differences in handling and reaction but I am sure most of you will finally decide on more important factors such as shape, color or weirdest name. I mean, what subliminal message is hidden within 'Starski Gruv-77'? Next up is the mission screen where occasionally you may be offered a choice of three different scenarios. It doesn't really matter which you select first because you end up doing them all anyway. Each task is quite unique but generally ends up with you following the usual routine of swatting all of the enemy ships that dare to enter the battle zone. I found the entire debriefing session an infuriating task. Mainly because rather than offer the spoken word you must read out your orders from a piece of text that insists on jumping up the screen at the pace of one line every second. Do the powers that be not know that we can move our eyeballs over the text and don't need the text to move over our eyeballs? Jeees! Handling the craft is fine and ultra responsive using the analog pad. Face buttons are allocated for targeting, cycling and firing weapons while the shoulder buttons work well when configured to accelerate, decelerate and roll side to side. At any time during the game you may pause the action and switch the viewing angle for reasons I have already covered. Enemy craft will do their utmost to avoid your fire but not to the extent where it becomes like trying to swat a hyperactive fly. After each mission is completed successfully you are given a game score. This is calculated by time, accuracy and bounties awarded for shooting down specific enemy craft. Rather than render this as a useless feature it becomes an integral part of the gameplay because the more credit points you earn, the more weapon and shield upgrades you can afford to purchase. This bounty system is a nice idea and saves Blast Radius from becoming an ordinary shooter. The action is spread across ten zones with your progress being able to save onto a memory card after completing each section (about three missions). All those fans of the link cable can rejoice as Psygnosis have finally removed their blinkers and included two separate modes of multi-player link-up action. There is a two player cooperative mode where you and a mate may fly side by side (or separate should BO be a problem) against a multitude of enemy craft. Also included is a one vs one Deathmatch mode set in a number of special arenas. Blast Radius should not disappoint those whose recent Link-up grumbling appeared in the Letters page.
Value for Money
Doubtless many of you who rushed out to purchase Colony Wars may already have a copy of this game pre-ordered. But I warn you, although darn good fun it doesn't have the depth of gameplay that was evident in Colony Wars. More like a selection of bonus arcade levels.
Blast Radius is a stunner. Everything seems perfect from the glowing
trail that emits from an afterburning engine, through the brilliant
bolts of colored energy which are fired from your laser turrets, to the
most blinding and realistic explosion as the enemy craft breaks up.
Blast Radius is as good to watch as it is to play.
The graphics are equally matched by a selection of sound effects and music that is cream to the ears.
With the inclusion of a two player Link-up mode that contains both Cooperative and Deathmatch modes Blast Radius could be one of those games that makes two people happy, rather than the customary one.