|Playstation > Whats New > PlayStation Reviews > Staff Review|
|A.P.I Review:||FIFTH ELEMENT|
No.1 No.2 No.3
|Game Type:||3rd Person Action||Memory Card|
|Review Date:||October 1998||Dual Shock Controller|
Setting the Scene
The time is earth's future - the 23rd Century. The place is a futuristic New York City where ground based cars have been replaced with hovercrafts and sidewalks have taken a step up with skywalks. The city is still jam packed with people and appears to be have taken on a rather militaristic approach to law enforcement. Oh, it also appears to be just as seamy as ever and is about to have its citizens thrown into an inter-dimensional conflict. It seems that every five thousand years, a door opens between the dimensions. In one dimension lies the universe and all of its various life forms. In the other exists an element not of earth, air, fire or water, but of anti-energy, anti-life. This element, or thing, waits patiently for this doorway to open and then to ultimately find a way to step through and extinguish all light and life. Sounds a bit like a sleazy politician to me... At any rate, each time this door is about to open the four basic elements have to be collected and gathered around a fifth...The Fifth Element: the perfect being. This prevents the evil from coming through the rift and closes the door for another five thousand years. Each time a hero must come forward to save the world to carry out this quest. This time that hero is you....
The Fifth Element is an action packed title played out from a third person perspective.
The environments in the Fifth Element are of the 3D, go anywhere you like variety. Of course there are restrictions... inside, corridors are laid out in a north, south, east and west grid... outside you have skywalks which take you from building to building. Fall off and you become road stew. To create these environments polygons are used for everything; buildings, characters, objects, etc. As we all know, the Playstation does a decent job of moving polygon around and this game is no exception. Using the Nightmare Creatures engine, Kalisto has created an extremely fast moving game for your enjoyment...or frustration...all depending on how you look at it. The background graphics are decent but get horribly jagged and distorted at close range. The color scheme is both hit and miss. Some building corridors and rooms as well as most of the outside scenarios are nicely presented but some of the inside locations are just downright offensive to your senses. I mean some backdrops that use colors like puke yellow and pee green are just plain nasty...yeech! There is also quite a lot of pop-up and fogging apparent throughout the outside scenes. This becomes frustrating when you are walking along and all of a sudden out of nowhere pops a hover car that slams into you and knocks you off the ledge. The backgrounds are usually nicely animated though with lots of stuff going on around you. The character graphics are decent and animated quite nicely but again, nothing earth shattering here. It's funny but the other characters actually look more detailed than the main characters that you are controlling. Looks like the cops should cut back on them donuts though... There is also liberal use of Full Motion Video throughout the game, taking actual scenes from the movie (and some obvious cutting room floor scenes) and interspersing them at the beginning of each level to progress the story along. You can choose to watch 'em or skip 'em.
Sounds and Effects
The music is decent and rather unobtrusive adding little to the game, but certainly not bad enough to turn off. The sound effects are rather sparse but well done. Footsteps echo convincingly off the pavements, weapon sounds are nice and the landing of punches and kicks all rings true enough. A good ear will pick up many sound clips from the original movie as well. I would have preferred to hear a bit of voice acting for the main characters...perhaps a wise ass quip here or there, something along those lines. About the only sounds they make are various grunts and groans throughout the game. Overall, sound effects and music are a wee bit above average.
The Fifth Element opens up with a nice FMV, which uses expertly spliced scenes from the original movie to set the story in motion. From here you jump into the menu screen and can set up your options. There is a nice tutorial video that explains the game controls for the characters, the options menu and load or new game select prompts. In the options menu you can set the music and sound effects volume, the game brightness (a nice option!), difficulty, FMV's on/off, Dual Shock on/off. Once you are all set it's off to your first mission. At the mission select window you are greeted by the greatest DJ known to the universe, the famous (and obnoxious) Ruby Rhod. Depending on the mission you will either be forced to play as one of the two leads or will be able to select which one you wish to guide. Your character choices are Korben, the former military captain turned cab driver or the lovely Leeloo, the perfect supreme being also known as the Fifth Element. Korben was a highly decorated military vet specializing in the use of weapons and extreme force to get his way. He is currently employed as a low profile cab driver and lives in a tiny one bedroom flat in New York City. Because of his specialized skills the military has selected him to save the planet. Leeloo is a supreme being whose DNA contains every aspect of her life, from her memory to her personality. Strategically wrapped to conceal her most intimate parts, Leeloo is the Fifth Element that when used with fire, water, air and earth is the only hope that the universe has against pure evil. Each character interacts with their environment differently. For instance, Korben has the use of guns and other weapons while Leeloo must rely on her hand to hand combat skills. Leeloo can crawl, Korben cannot, that kind of stuff. Enemies also react differently depending on whom you select. They will use guns against Korben and tazers or bare fists against Leeloo. This adds some variety and spice to the matches for sure. I generally love playing 3rd person action type games. When done right, the world just unfolds wonderfully around you... The Fifth Element has all of the elements (no pun intended) of a really good 3rd person title. The environments are laid out nicely and are very challenging. The interaction between characters and objects is promoted throughout the game, but the controls are soooo touchy that one wrong twitch of the control pad on the outside scenes and you are inadvertently pitched off the side and to your death. Errrr... This is one of the few games that you will actually hear me say controls better with the digital pad than the analog. The camera also has a tendency to freak out and leave you stranded...luckily this is remedied by pressing select and one of the directional buttons to straighten things out. Each mission requires you to attain the goal set at the start. Along the way, you are faced with many decisions as far as which way to go, and when to use certain objects that you pick up along the way. For instance, there are many secrets hidden on each mission and to get to some of them you have to use items like a grenade to blow up a wall or something. Usually you can tell which wall to explode by the tiny cracks through it, but sometimes a grenade doesn't work and you end up wasting the item. The puzzles are tricky and get more difficult to figure out as you progress through the game. The frustrating part of the game though is the timing elements. There was one point in the game where you must time the arrival and departure of a train. You race along the tracks, which happen to be suspended thousands of feet above the ground, trying to get to a safe area before the train makes it appearance again. Because the control is so touchy and the tracks so narrow, I must have fallen off this stage dozens of times (well quite a few) before finally completing it. Some may call this a challenge, I found it to be rather annoying. This is just one example, this kind of stuff occurs throughout the game requiring only a true masochist to stick with it for very long. The good news is that for some strange reason I actually found the game and unfolding storyline kind of fun to play. I guess I must be a masochist, but I continually found myself trying one more time to get through a particularly difficult part of the game. With enough patience you may actually learn to compensate for the controls and have a fun enough time at the actual gameplay. My overall impression of TFE is that this is a good game that missed greatness by a few pages of code. I found the story and level designs to be engaging and creative...only to be thwarted by extremely touchy controls. The use of weapons and character interaction to be exciting...only to be crushed by poor key placement (R2/L2 + hold select to change weapons...doh!). It's good but missing that fluidity and feel to make it killer. If you enjoyed Nightmare Creature (and I did) chances are you will probably find a lot to enjoy with this title.
Value for Money
There are a good variety of missions and the fact that you can play as two different characters gives the game some freshness. There are also a lot of secret areas to discover with items to be found. It's a good enough game to play, but once complete you may not find enough reasons to pick it up and play it again. TFE is definitely worth a rental to many and a purchase to those with the patience of a saint.
Fifth Element has all the components to be a truly super game...A
bandaged clad femme fatale, lots of action, great level designs and fast
graphics, but because of its overly sensitive control scheme and
occasional poor camera angles, it becomes frustrating fast...really
For those that stick with it though, there is a really good game here that is just begging for a bit more tweaking. The concept is a good one and will most certainly appeal to a good many gamers out there.