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A.P.I Review: FRENZY
Developer: SCI OPTIONS: S.SHOT
SCREENSHOTS:
No.1   No.2   No.3
Distributor: SCI 1 Player
Game Type: Arcade Shooter Memory Card
Review Date: August 1998 Analog Compatible

Setting the Scene

The evil scientist, calling himself Count Von Toten, is busy building a
secret army which he will use to take over the world (what else!?). Only one
man can stop him, being the super hero pilot that you are, it should be a
breeze. Wade your way through wave after wave of insane enemies in even more
insane terrain to ultimately defeat the mad Count and save the world.

Frenzy is best described as a cute and cuddly version of Viper, the on-rails
helicopter based shooter, with a few differences. Difference number one is
that the graphics are much brighter and happier than Viper, take away the
dark cities and canyons and replace them with green rolling hills and fluffy
clouds. While Viper is on Rails, Frenzy is a little less so, essentially
this means that Frenzy allows you a little more freedom of movement, you can
turn around and check what you may have missed and explore the level in a
little more detail. The biggest difference is the difficulty, while Viper is
relatively easy (as shooters go) and has multiple difficulty settings,
Frenzy is brain meltingly difficult and all but the most patient or skilled
players are bound to be put off.

Genre

Viewed from behind, you fly your little bi-plane around shooting stuff. It's
a 3D third person shooter, like Tomb Raider in an airplane, sort of.

Graphics

The only word I can think of to describe the graphics in Frenzy is 'cute'.
Even the most evil of the level bosses are rendered to give you a warm fuzzy
feeling, you almost feel sorry for the giant green lizard as you blow him up
because he reminds you of a friendly version of Godzilla. Even killing the
giant brain in a jar brings a tear to the eye.

While cute, the graphics are also very well done, the entire 3D environment
consists of texture mapped polygons, smoothly rendered in real-time at a
reasonable high frame rate. No matter how much action is happening on-screen
there is never a hint of slow down, and a very clever use of fogging keeps
pop-up to a bare minimum.

The environment is impressively detailed, the roads, rivers and hills all
nicely textured and while not exactly realistic looking all continue to
reinforce the 'cute' feel of the game.

Overall the graphics are very good for this type of game, enough details is
present in the enemies and environment to distract you from the important
business of blowing stuff up.

Sounds and Effects

Again, I could think of only one word to describe the music, this time it's
not so charitable, 'annoying'. The majority of the in-game music would fit
better under the Big-Top tent than in a shoot-em-up. All I can say is that
only the most patient or hearing impaired will leave the music at full
volume, if on at all.

It's not all bad though, the effects do the genre justice, and are well
done. From the booming explosions to the gunshot effects, the effects are
all appropriate and realistic.

Playability

It's really hard to disguise the fact that Frenzy if a pretty frantic
shooter. There's not really much originality here but there are a few
surprises even for the most hardened shooter fan. You start the game in your
bi-plane with a pretty basic machine gun, a few bombs and a full tank of
fuel. You must survive the barrage of gunfire from below and above as the
enemy attempt to obliterate you before you reach your goal.

The first level takes your through a deadly valley, populated with a bizarre
range of bad guys, from Dr. Who's Daleks to rocket powered pine trees.
Subsequent levels have you fighting against carnival octopus and evil
refrigerators while avoiding surface to air lollipops and lava balls.

As you progress through each level there are two major concerns, your fuel
level and life meter. The speed of your plane determines how much fuel
used.  The more you use, the more you have to pick up. Fuel is held in 
tanks, mostly hidden around the level in obscure places. Once you find 
one, you shoot it and the precious fuel awaits you in a hot air balloon.  
Hit the balloon and the fuel is yours.  Run out of fuel and you end
up a burning wreck on the ground. The other major concern is your life
meter, the more hits you take the more your life meter goes down. Luckily,
your life can be replenished in much the same way as your fuel, whenever you
shoot an enemy a small balloon appears, hit the balloon and you get a small
life boost, thus allowing you continue.

Earlier, I compared Frenzy to Viper, that wasn't really a fair comparison
but it holds some elements of the game. The area where it doesn't hold
true is the freedom of movement.  In Viper you are most definitely on rails,
in Frenzy you have a whole bunch more freedom. Not only can you adjust the
speed of your bi-plane, you can also turn around and view the level from
reverse. Having this freedom can be a little confusing sometimes, it's quite
easy to get lost, luckily there are handy arrows within each level that
guide you through, providing you with much needed direction as you go
through.

Since shooting is the basis for the game, it's lucky you can do plenty of
it. Your basic weapon is the machine gun, firing from the front of your
plane you can obtain power-ups for this weapon in order to increase its
firepower. You also have a stock of bombs to use in your defense, there are
a number of different bombs from heat seeking to green stink bombs, all very
useful because they explode and kill bad guys.

The only major complaint I have with the playability of Frenzy is the
difficulty. This game is very hard. There are a number of factors that
affect this: no difficulty setting, the length of levels and the lack 
of checkpoints in the levels. It is a pretty standard feature of games 
these days to have a difficulty setting and the lack of one is very
obvious. The other contributing factor is the length of the level.  
This is compounded by the multiple mini-bosses within each level, 
each having a chance to kill you before you meet the final boss. If 
there were checkpoints this problem would not exists, but should you 
die and decide to continue you must play the entire level again from 
the very beginning. This makes completing levels very hard and an 
exercise in patience more than anything else.

Overall, the game is great fun to play.  Younger players with a lot of
patience and quick reflexes will have a blast playing it.  Older
players, I recommend you take a look at Viper instead.

Value for Money

This game is so hard.  To be completely honest I couldn't get past the first
level. I have no idea how anybody will be able to get through the nine
levels in the game. This difficulty is bound to effect the long-term appeal
of the game.  It could just be me, but I feel that nobody but the most
skilled gamer will get the maximum value from this game. I get the feeling 
that the target audience for Frenzy is in the lower end of the age range 
and it could be that younger children have a better aptitude for the game 
than me, who knows?  Maybe I just suck.

Perhaps a deathmatch or a cooperative mode would have been beneficial.  
Multi-player action would have surely added some value to an otherwise 
dull game, afterall, there is a sad lack of multi-player shooters on 
the Playstation.
Opinion
CHRIS
GRAPHICS: 18/20 While the graphics are pretty awesome in Frenzy, we all know that it takes more than fancy effects to get you coming back for more, long after you have forgotten how cool a game looks you're still remembering how lame the gameplay was. So, in a nutshell, I'm not very impressed with Frenzy, maybe I'm just sick of 3rd person shooters, maybe I'm finally looking for more depth in gameplay than mindless button pushing, maybe I'm just getting old.

It may seem like a trivial complaint but when a game is this difficult with no possibility of changing the difficulty it severely effects the desire to continue playing. Sure, the game is fun to play, it looks great and plays well, the music may stink but in the end it's too darn hard and many gamers will be disouraged from progressing too far because of this.

Whatever the reason, I recommend that if you're tempted to try Frenzy, you rent it before buying. There's nothing seriously wrong with the game, unfortunately, there's nothing seriously right with it either, it's just there. Oh well, maybe next time.
SOUND: 6/10
PLAYABILITY: 32/50
VALUE: 12/20
OVERALL 68%

 

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