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A.P.I Review: BROKEN HELIX
Developer: Konami OPTIONS: S.SHOT
SCREENSHOTS:
No.1   No.2   No.3
Distributor: Konami 1 Player
Game Type: 3rd Person Shooter Memory Card (2 blocks)
Review Date: May 1998 Standard Joypad

Setting the Scene

You are Jake Burton, explosives expert, you chose your profession
because you like to blow stuff up, and working for the military you've
seen some pretty weird things in your career but nothing like you're
about to see. You wake one morning to a call from your commanding
officer, you've been ordered to the infamous Area 51 to disarm a bomb
that has been set by the scientists working in the facility, you don't
much care why, you just want to get in and do your job.

In this game you take on the role of Jake, a wisecracking marine with an
abrasive personality and a taste for C4. The plot begins with the
basic:- go in, complete your mission and get out, but it soon becomes
obvious that there is more to Area 51 than even the conspiracy theorists
believe, and if the truth was revealed to the people of the world, who
knows what could happen.

The biggest feature of this game is probably the constant use of the
voice talents of Bruce Campbell (of the Evil Dead movies, and more
recently Pitfall 3D fame). Bruce lends Jake his unique voice and makes
good use of the quotes he made famous in his movies. Even if you're not
a fan of Campbell, the multiple plot lines and huge levels should still
keep you occupied for many hours.

Genre

This game is best describe as Tomb Raider with personality, it's a 
3rd person shooter but with the extremely interesting twist of having
multiple story lines and the wisecracking Bruce Campbell providing the
voice overs.

Graphics

Here comes the inevitable comparison, the graphics in Broken Helix 
are not as good as Tomb Raider or Deathtrap Dungeon. With that out of 
the way I've got to say that there's nothing wrong with the graphics 
in this game, they are fast and smooth and while not as well done as 
others in this genre.  There is some pretty nice light sourcing and texture 
mapping used in the game. 

There are no major glitches in the graphics, the occasion wall gets
clipped if you stand too close and the floating camera tries to get 
too close, but nothing that will effect the playability of the game.

The most outstanding aspect of the graphics in the game is the Full
Motion Video, with over 56 minutes of excellently rendered FMV (most 
of which is used for death and mutilation scenes of the main character)
this game should satisfy even the most demanding FMV junkie. 

Sounds and Effects

With over 95 minutes worth of voice samples for Jake and other
characters in the game the most outstanding element of the sound in the
game is the range and variety of these clips. The sound effects,
particularly Jakes' wisecracks, help to keep the serious premise of 
the game a little light hearted, it's probably a little sick to be 
laughing as you blow away a defenseless scientist, but I couldn't help it. 
The in-game music is mostly forgettable, you'll be too busy listening 
to Jakes dialog to take any notice anyway.

Playability

Take a bunch of angry scientists, some try-hard Arnie clones, big 
guns, killer robots, aliens and lots of powerups mix them all up and 
throw in Bruce Campbell and you've got Broken Helix.

Broken Helix refers to the fragment that is created in human DNA when 
it is crossed with DNA of another species, particularly a hybrid of alien
and humans. This basic idea serves as the foundation for most of the
plot within the game, and as it unfolds, brings this game beyond the
usual idea of running around killing things, picking up stuff and
running around some more.

Initially the game starts with you as Jake, having to venture into an
underground bunker in Area 51.  Your first task is to disarm the bombs
that have been set by the scientist with the bunker before they blow up
taking you with them. You have a squad of marines backing you up who
will sweep through the bunker cleaning up any remaining scientist after
you have completed your mission. It soon becomes very apparent that all
things are not as they seem; you may get the bombs disarmed, but that is
only the beginning of your journey. The majority of the game is spent
running from the marines who were actually supposed to be helping you,
which means that most levels within the game are time-limited. There
really isn't much time to stop and smell the robots, this is my only
major gripe with the gameplay.

The gameplay is pretty standard fare, run around the levels jumping,
crawling and shooting your way through obstacles as you go, collect
powerups and keys to get through doors and activate elevators. You 
can also gain control of various maintenance and combat robots in 
order to get to normally inaccessible or dangerous areas. Some 
actions in the game take a combination of buttons to achieve, 
so control will take a little while to get used to, but the learning 
curve is no steeper than Tomb Raider of Deathtrap Dungeon. 

Overall it's the story that holds this game together, while the control
could have been easier and the game itself a little easier, the depth 
of plot more than makes up for any frustration caused. If you are 
patient enough to play through the game to it's completion, or 
even to play it more than once to see the multiple story lines 
involved you will surely rank this game as one of the most interesting, 
if not graphically stunning,  you have played in a long time.

Value for Money

With a reported 1,600,000 virtual square feet to traverse, an 
in-depth story line with multiple paths and multiple endings 
involving alien viruses, government conspiracies, alien-human 
hybrids and a whole lot more this game should keep anyone 
occupied for at least a few days.

Graphics: Good
Sound: Excellent
Playability: Good
Value: Good
Overall: 83%
Opinion
CHRIS
GRAPHICS: 15/20 I am a huge fan of Bruce Campbell, I personally can't get enough of his "Evil Dead" character and it's good to see him getting plenty of voice acting roles in games.
With that in mind I did enjoy playing Broken Helix for a fair amount of time, unfortunately it is easy to become discouraged in the early part of the game and my control pad ended up hitting the wall or floor at high velocity more than once.
Perseverance with minor annoying control and difficulty issues will mean that you will get to see a very involved and interesting plot unfold. If you've finished Tomb Raider 2 and can't wait for Tomb Raider 3, this may be the game that will temporarily fill the void, but I'd recommend you check out Deathtrap Dungeon first.
SOUND: 20/20
PLAYABILITY: 30/40
VALUE: 15/20
OVERALL 80%

 

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