|Playstation > Whats New > PlayStation Reviews > Staff Review|
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|Game Type:||3D First Person Shooter||Password|
|Review Date:||June 1998||Analog Compatible|
Setting the Scene
In the year 2113 humanity destroyed itself when it sought to harness the Universe's most powerful and dangerous energy source. The Earth as we know is was destroyed and laid barren by an uncontrolled fusion reaction, declared as condemned by the High Senators of the Imperial Theocracy. Earth is now Forsaken and it's open season on any remaining resources for the exploitation by the scum of the universe, are you up to the challenge of pillaging a dead world or will you just be another blood spot on a wall? In Forsaken you are a ruthless mercenary who's only purpose in life is to pillage the remains of condemned planets, fighting your way through military droids and other mercenaries in order to salvage as much as you can before you are violently killed. The 3D graphics and 360 degree of movement in Forsaken are very reminiscent of the Descent series, Forsaken could quite easily be mistaken for Descent 3 and could comfortably wear the name without arousing too much suspicion. However, having said that, Forsaken is a big step forward from Descent, brilliant graphics, excellent and interesting level design and a wide range of very deadly weapons make Forsaken a worthy game in it's own right. Forsaken has been parallel released with the Nintendo 64 and PC versions and when compared to these 2 superior ports the Playstation version will simply not hold up. However, if we choose to ignore these other versions and treat the Playstation version as a stand alone it will fare very well on all counts.
You sit in the cockpit of your hoverbike vehicle, traveling though a series of levels, shooting a bunch of bad guys and collecting treasure, weapon power-ups and other goodies. To categorize Forsaken into a genre it would have to be 3D First Person shooter, unique in the sense that you have 360 degrees of movement which begs the comparison with the classic, Descent, but sets it apart from the current dirge of DOOM clones like Duke Nukem and Disruptor.
The first thing that hits you about the graphics in Forsaken is the smoothness. While not the fastest running game in the genre Forsaken is definitely the smoothest I have seen on Playstation. The usual visual glitches and slowdown are mostly absent in this game, no clipping, very few visible polygon edges, and no slowdown no matter how much action is going on. You will see the occasional white polygon edge appearing but to put this in perspective the problem is nowhere near as evident as Tomb Raider 2 so is relatively non-existent. The background and texture mapping in the game is complemented brilliantly by some very impressive and unprecedented light sourcing effects. Shoot your Pulsar (basic weapon) down a darkened corridor and the bolt will light the way for as long as you can see, explosions also light the surrounding area as do missiles, flashing fluorescent lighting and lit control panels. Another very impressive feature of the graphics is the numerous and multiple explosions you view when things... well, explode. Not only does the surrounding area light up but the explosions actual look realistic, complete with radiating shock wave and burning shrapnel, very nice. It is all too easy to compare the Playstation version to the Nintendo or PC version of Forsaken, and if we do the Playstation version will not score very well, however, as a Playstation game the graphics in Forsaken are quite probably the best in the genre at the moment.
Sounds and Effects
With a soundtrack provided by "The Swarm", Forsaken continues the tradition of providing a thumping techno soundtrack to accompany the swift action in the game. Reminiscent of the WipEout soundtrack the music changes with the levels and manages to maintain the frantic pace of the action. The standard effects in the game are all appropriate and well done and keep up the quality of the rest of the game. Sounds for the various actions in the game like doors opening, weapons firing, explosions, debris falling, enemy droids flying by are all excellent but the outstanding aspect of the game is the sounds your own bike makes. The propulsion sounds of your bike increase in volume and pitch depending on how you are flying and add the feeling of realism as you hover around avoiding enemy fire.
The gameplay in Forsaken is not really all that original, the concept has been seen before and without looking deeply into this game you could be forgiven for thinking that Forsaken is just another DOOM or Descent clone. It's not really, while on the surface it is a simple clone, there are several features in the game that set it apart from the rest. The first thing you'll notice is that you get to choose from over 10 different mercenaries to play, each with different statistics and abilities such as Acceleration, Speed, Handling, Shields, and Hull strength. These abilities effect both how your bike flies and survives against the constant onslaught from the drones and other enemies in the levels, as well as the speed at which you travel. There are several difficulty modes to choose from which determine the toughness and number of enemies present in the levels. Less experienced players will welcome this feature since it means that they will be able to progress through the levels without the frustration of being killed every 5 minutes. Likewise, more experienced gamers will choose the higher levels since it means more carnage, more shooting and a lot more death! Speaking of levels, each one in Forsaken has obviously been well thought out and designed. No two are the same, and even change as you play them (meaning you must be constantly alert for new enemies as they teleport or as new areas of the level open up). Sometimes certain areas of the levels are not available until you pass a certain point or kill a certain enemy and while this can sometimes be a little frustrating it is usually fairly obvious what action is required to complete the levels. On-screen hints and tips help enormously. The sheer size of some of the levels means that the re-start points come in very handy and my gratitude to the developers is immeasurable for putting this handy feature in the game. Adding more variety to the game is the mission structure of Forsaken. Each level has different criteria you must meet before you can proceed. Some may involve collecting items from sections of the level and some involve quite complex puzzles that need to be solved. Whatever the criteria, these constant changes keep you interested and adds to the "one more time" quality. By far the most interesting aspect of the levels is that you often get to fight it out with one of your peers, slugging it out with another mercenary, as smart and well armed as you are, this can be a huge challenge and a lot of fun. The range of weapons available to you is both impressive and large. Your basic weapon has 3 power levels that you can increase by collecting Power Pods to increase the level. Your basic arsenal is made up weapons like the Trojax with allows you to maintain a huge charge by holding the fire button down and letting go when the enemy is in sight or the Prolite - the short range but deadly flame thrower. You also have access to a large assortment of missile weapons, from the heat seeking Solaris to the enemy disabling Gravgon all adding to the variety of gameplay. The next thing you'll notice is the intelligence of the enemies, while dodging and fleeing enemies isn't really a new concept, the drones in the game actually behave like you would expect a human to play. Also, while some drones are quit stupid and will follow you into a tight tunnel (and thus open themselves up to a short but lethal burst of concentrated laser pulses) some will simply refuse to follow and wait for YOU to emerge before doing the same to you. This mix of AI means that not all enemies behave the same, making predicting their movements extremely difficult and adding to the realism and challenge of the game. To add to the variety and challenge some enemies cloak themselves and only uncloak to shoot at you, some even have the ability to teleport to any point in the level, most of the time, directly behind you. Control of your craft is best achieved using the Sony Dual Analog Pad, while the game is playable without it, you definitely have a higher level of control with it. If you haven't got a Dual Analog yet, here is your excuse. The controller learning curve is quite steep since all the buttons are used throughout the game so get used to having busy hands while playing, however, once you have learned to the control system it becomes intuitive and you'll be cruising around and shooting the enemies without a second thought about which button to press. Another great feature of the game is the two-player Deathmatch. While in the traditional Deathmatch of games in this genre you are allowed you to pick a level and simply kill each other until you get sick of it, Forsaken has made a competition of it. You pick your biker and go head to head with another human player in 6 levels of carnage and mayhem. At the end of each level you are given a summary of the match and at the end of all levels you're given an overall summary. The only problem with this format is that you can't choose which level you want to play but have to follow the predetermined path. Also, 4 player Deathmatch would have been a welcome feature but it is unlikely that the excellent graphics and gameplay could have been maintained on the Playstation so we're stuck with two players. With all this praise you would have to expect that not all the news is good, you would be right. While mostly very minor concerns and not adversely effecting gameplay it would be amiss to not mention them. The first thing is that there are no multiple views available, you can't view yourself from behind, you can't look around without actually turning and you can't look behind you (again, without actually turning around). More weapons would have been nice, there are 12 projectile weapons ranging from the laser type Pulsar to Multiple Fire Rocket Launchers and 3 mines available but as usual, more is better (maybe Forsaken 2). Clutching at straws to find some more floors in the game brings me to the Deathmatch feature. More levels, and the ability to choose which level you could play would have added to the fun of the Deathmatch. Saving games is also another obvious omission, the ability to save the game to a memory card is missing and you only get a password at the end of each level which means that you must complete the entire level before you can record the password for the next one. Like I said, minor complaints but I had to find something wrong. Overall this game is literally a blast, the action is fast and challenging most of the time. While some parts of the game have you floating around large expanses of long corridors and rooms most of the time there is something to shoot or kill or turn on/off and it never gets boring.
Value for Money
With more than 10 very long and involved levels, a large variety of enemies and many secret and hidden areas, Forsaken is likely to keep fans of the genre interested for a considerable amount of time. While the mission structure of the levels is very linear (you must complete the current level to proceed to the next one) there are 5 different levels of difficulty so even inexperienced gamers will have little trouble finishing the game on the easiest level. The missions and levels are also varied in their success criteria and layout adding to the lastability of this title. Some missions are simple "flick the switch" and "kill the boss" but most have additional sub-missions that involve collection certain items or switching off reactors, opening doors or completing certain tasks in a pre-determined time period. Most levels also involve slugging it out with you fellow mercenaries, ending each level with a mighty fight to the death against an opponent a little smarter and tougher than the usual drones.
must admit that First Person shooters aren't usually my cup of tea, but
the range and depth of levels in Forsaken, variety of awesome weapons
and constant flow of enemies kept me interested for longer than I
thought it would.
For fans of this type of game Forsaken has a lot to offer. The two-player death match is a little limiting since you can't choose which level to play but it is still a whole bunch of fun.
The Nintendo version of Forsaken could be considered the first real shot fired in anger from the Nintendo camp and the first real comparison between what the two platforms can do, by comparison. The only thing the Playstation version has going against it is the Nintendo and PC versions, they are considerably superior but then again they're running on superior (and newer) hardware so forget about them and take this version on it's own merits.
Forsaken is definitely best-of-breed on Playstation at the moment and anybody needing some fast and furious shooting action should check it out.
of the first games I played on the PSX way back in '95 was the
conversion of the PC hit Descent. I loved this title but with almost 30
levels to plough through I have still not made it right to the final
climax. It was so easy to think of an excuse not to complete this game -
the complex design of the mining tunnels meant I was constantly getting
lost, or the 360° dog fights scrambled your vision, or maybe a
slightly better game always seemed to come along.
Whatever the excuse I swear that one day I will return to conquer Descent.... after I have beaten Forsaken first, of course.
Time to cut the crap - this is Descent 3. It may have the most jaw-dropping graphics on the Playstation to date, it may offer futuristic bikes instead of the rickety old shuttle but behind all of the glamour the gameplay remains the same. There's nothing wrong with that, only I hope it doesn't take me another three years to grind through all of the new missions.