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A.P.I Review: ELEMENTAL GEARBOLT
Developer: Alpha OPTIONS: S.SHOT
SCREENSHOTS:
No.1   No.2   No.3
Distributor: Working Designs 1-2 Player
Game Type: Shoot-em-up (Gun-Game) Lightgun (including GunCom), Mouse
Review Date: July 1998 Analog or Digital Pad

Setting the Scene

Raise you hands if you have bought a light gun for your PlayStation... 
Now put them down if you haven't used it in the last two months… 

There aren't many hands still up in the air!

Well rejoice my friends at last you can warm up your trigger finger and blow 
the dust of your weapon, because Elemental Gearbolt has just hit town.

Genre

This is a 1 or 2 player first perspective 3D shooter on rails. The 
presentation of the game is biased towards a traditional twitch-shooter, 
with waves of enemies to be overcome. The game can be played using lightguns 
such as the "GunCon", or more conventional methods such as the Sony mouse, 
analog and digital pads. It should be stressed that the game still plays very 
well with the standard PlayStation joypad. 

Graphics

Each of the levels has a well animated manga style cartoon which sets 
the scene nicely for the impending massacre.

The in-game graphics are very impressive, in fact possibly more so than the 
mighty "Time Crisis". Each level is fought within an actual 3D polygon world 
giving the designers the ability to zoom in and out of the action from varying 
heights. In certain instances you may not be sure if you are playing a game 
or riding a rollercoaster..!

Movement of both backgrounds and enemies is beautifully smooth and well 
animated, however there are a couple of minor instances where the action 
suffers from slowdown, however this can be forgiven when taking into account 
both the size and quantity of enemies on screen at these points.

The style of graphics varies from medi-evil towns to futuristic spacecraft. 
The enemies also come in many forms ranging from large mechanical spiders, 
various flying craft and a whole host of  "Transformer" style robotic troopers.

More impressive still are the end of level bosses which are both large and 
detailed - The level 5 boss fills several screens..!

Sounds and Effects

It hit me as a little strange that while all of this intense action was 
taking place on the screen, the background music was often very mellow and 
relaxed. It sounded like church choir music with very dark and mysterious 
classical overtones mixed into it - the quality of the sound is brilliant… 
just very strange.

None of the spot effects were noteworthy, there were all of the shooting and 
exploding noises that you would expect to find in this style of game, all 
were crisp, clear and varied depending on the type of weapon used.

Playability

With gun in hand, lets dive into the first level of this game:

The setting is a small medi-evil town at sunset, the rain is falling and you 
can hear church bells ringing out the warning that notifies everyone that the 
area is under attack.

Suddenly you see some sort of alien creature out of the corner of your eye, 
you quickly select one of your three weapons (fire, water or lightning) and 
fire a few shots in its direction…. A direct hit launches the enemy into the 
air in a ball of flames. The camera starts to pan left revealing two more of 
these slow moving scumbags for you to destroy. Now the action begins and the 
camera moves forward towards a castle wall, moving right before quickly darting 
left to reveal another alien coming out of a doorway - quick reflexes are need 
to get this guy, without him firing at you first. 

You notice a green crystal floating in the air, shooting it reveals either a 
cash bonus, health power up or one of the many "fairies" that need to be 
collected throughout each level (the more you collect the better the end of 
level bonus will be). As the camera moves right, you are greeted with four 
more aliens and what looks like a large mutant fly coming right at you - guns 
blazing. Shooting this bug sees it crash and burn in true Kamakazi style.

Forward again you go under a bridge and into a smaller courtyard, taking out 
more aliens that start to jump from the surrounding walls.  Just as you begin 
to feel that are getting the hang of the game the camera moves forward towards 
a combination of flying and walking enemies, before dashing to the left to 
reveal a huge crazy looking dude with a massive stone hammer who is standing 
right next to you and takes off your head with one swift blow…. 
Never mind time to try again.

The movement of the camera position will see you climbing rock faces, dodging 
between trees and even sneaking between the legs of some of the larger 
monsters. It successfully gives the impression that you are running around 
the levels yourself and although you can't actually choose the direction 
that you take, there is so much going on that you just don't notice.

The level designs are all quite varied in their design. They take you from 
the castle, through the woods, into the caves, across the desert into a 
cathedral and finally through corridors and into the night

At the end of each level you are greeted by a massive "boss". These impressive 
characters range from a sea serpent, to a massive space ship.

Although many of the enemies look almost identical throughout the game, there 
are a few stunning exceptions such a the mechanical "War of the Worlds" type 
spiders and flying Turtles that appear on the desert scene.

At the end of each level you are awarded a bonus which can be taken in the 
form of expanding the amount of health you can store, or in raw points - if 
its a high score that you're after.

Value for Money

I guess the sad fact that will effect all games of this type is that 
they can be completed within a relatively short period of time. We managed to 
get through all six levels within a few hours of solid playtesting and although 
we had tons of fun completing it, I am not sure how often we would want to 
re-play it over and over again.
Opinion
JIM
GRAPHICS: 18/20 While better than "Time Crisis" in many areas, it falls short in one very important area… longevity.

Taking the example set by T.C and adding several different options and possibly adding a few secret areas or enemies that could only be accessed once the main mission had been completed, would have turned this game into a classic.

The best they could come up with is to hide 12 chalices throughout the game, each of which give weapon power-ups, but that's hardly groundbreaking stuff now is it..?

As it stands you may wish to rent this game before shelling out your cash on the full priced game.
SOUND: 8/10
PLAYABILITY: 44/50
VALUE: 10/20
OVERALL 80%

 

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