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Omega Boost
"Everything that's great about 2D side scrolling shooters in a 3D world" Image Loading...
Developer: Polyphony
Distributor: Sony
Game Type: 3D Shooter
Review Date: Aug 99
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Setting the Scene:
      A super-intelligent virus has infected the worlds computer networks and taken control of a 'Timeshaft' from where it can travel back in time, infecting all computers since the dawn of the silicon chip.

The 'Alpha Core' is responsible and takes the computerised form of a mechanised army that has been programmed to despise all humans, praying on the dependence that we now have on computers.

You will pilot 'Omega Boost', a huge mechanical warrior that has been constructed with one task in mind, to travel back in time to 1946 and destroy the legions of the 'Alpha Core' armies before they can start to do any damage.
      Take the 3D go-anywhere aspects of a mission based space shooter such as 'Colony Wars' or 'G-Police' and REMOVE all of the complexities and boring bits.

Then take the raw excitement of a traditional 2D side scrolling shooter such as 'R-Type' and ADD pre-set waves of high powered aliens, huge sub-bosses and massive screen filling end of level bosses.

The result is an outright shoot-em-up in its purest form, but with the freedom of a go-anywhere three dimensional environment.
Sound and Vision:
      This game was programmed by the same company responsible for one of the biggest selling videogames of all time - Gran Turismo, however, this fact alone does not AUTOMATICALLY make this a great game, no matter how much Sony's marketing department would have you think otherwise. Both games are VERY different and will be judged in this way.

Image Loading...So we will forget what the media are trying to tell us to tell you and concentrate on the results of five days of playtesting shall we..?

Your character (Omega Boost) is basically a flying robot piloted by a human. It packs a huge gun that would make even Clint Eastwood feel a little inappropriate, with rocket launchers and boost pack on its back. It has been carefully constructed out of a minimal number of polygons, making it angular and un-defined (nowhere near the quality of say Yoshimitsu from Tekken 3), however it responds to movement in a beautiful fluid way.

The enemy craft are also very angular in construction, although some fantastic texture mapping hides much of this.

All of the above minimality has freed up enough processor power to make sure that the game runs at a very fast pace even when there are loads of enemy craft buzzing around. It has also allowed for some of the biggest end level bosses and best explosion and weapons effects seen in this genre.

Image Loading...This game uses the famous Gran Turismo replay mode (according to Sony's marketing material) and while this is maybe true, it adds nothing to the overall game and will probably only be used once or twice by gamers out of sheer curiosity.

One thing that Sony can rightly compare to G.T is the music, They have again mixed vocal and instrumental soundtracks to perfection adding greatly to the atmosphere and enjoyment of each level within the game. The main intro track has one of those guitar riffs that stays in your head for hours after you switched the game off.

The sound effects are all fine, each type of weapon has its own individual sound and the stereo effect is quite good, making it a little easier to see which direction the enemy fire is coming from.
      As soon as the game was loaded I charged straight into the action only to find that I had absolutely no control over my craft. After two or three more failed attempts to play this game, I threw the controller to the floor in disgust and admitted defeat.

Image Loading...I came crawling back to my console an hour or so later and tried again. This time I took a few moments to learn the controls (almost every button on your joypad is used) and spent a little time in the training section of the game learning the basics.

I soon re-entered the first level again and this time cleared it almost immediately. In fact I went straight through to the end boss in the FOURTH level (which is a really tough one) without feeling as though I was in full control of my ship.

I switched to an analog controller and found things a little easier, but I would say that it still took me over 5 gaming hours before all of the controls seemed natural to me... Pickup and Play - this game is NOT.

Image Loading...You only have two weapons to use against the enemy. The first is a huge laser firing gun that fires short double busts of energy. Its not autofire, so be prepared for some numb fingers if this is your preferred weapon. The second is an autoloading rocket pack that fires guided missiles. Get close enough to the opposition and a blue 'lock-on' symbol will appear over it, hit your fire button and watch the missile seek and destroy.

You start with a six-pack missile launcher, but complete any level quickly while killing most of the enemy craft and you will be rewarded with an extra missile added to your launcher (up to a maximum of 16) each time you do. Its worth trying to get as many of these power-ups during the earlier levels, as you will need them for the more difficult areas later in the game.

If you find yourself in trouble surrounded by enemies, you can use your 'BOOST' buttons to thrust you quickly away from harm. Steering right or left while doing this will take you into an evasive spin - great from breaking out from enemy tractor beams.

Image Loading...When you are in real trouble you can use your 'VIPER BOOST' which is charged by a very small amount ever time you make a kill. Once it reaches a certain level it can be activated, causing the 'Omega Boost' to be transformed into a battering ram that locks onto and smashes everything in its path.

Each of the levels are quite short, ranging from just under two minutes to around six. You will have to battle through nine levels to complete the game and begin to unlock the extra TEN areas. Some of these hidden areas are more stunning than the main game - one has over 200 enemy craft firing at you, while another has close to 1000 ! Opening these extra areas will depend on how well and in what way you completed the game.
Game Options:
      This is a single disk game for 1 Player. It is compatable with the standard (digital) joypad and the dual shock (analog) joypad. Games can be saved via memory card (1 block per save).

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Staff Opinions  
Jim: "Omega Boost is everything that's great about 2D side scrolling shooters in a 3D world - Well everything except for the 2 player option and massive selection of power-ups that is !

The control method was initially a real pain, it took me hours to feel comfortable with it, but once mastered, levels that seemed impossible were passed with ease.

The facility to unlock new levels by completing the game in different ways will ensure that you keep re-playing the game over and over rather than just finishing it once and then retiring it to the dusty top shelf in your bedroom."
Graphics: 18/20
Playability: 41/50
Sound: 9/10
Lastability: 17/20
Overall: 85%
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Reader Opinions  
John Kim    

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