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PlayStation Game and Hardware Reviews




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1 Player

Game Type


Mem. Card

Review Date

Feb 1997

Setting the Scene

Taking place in the somewhat distant future (2069 to be exact), Steel Harbinger paints a pretty grimm picture of a "techno/at war" world being invaded by pods from space. The pods open on impact and send out deadly tendrails in search of some poor bystander. After penatrating their bodies, they are turned into mutant beings that search out and convert other humans. It just so happens that a group of scientists have obtained the only pod that has not opened yet. One of the scientists daughter, Miranda, decides to take a closer look at the pod. You know whats next...the pod bursts open and grabs hold of Miranda. With axe in hand, her father runs to her rescue, chopping at the pods limbs...but alas it is too late. Poor Miranda has been infected by the alien and is slowly turning into a mutant. But wait! It seems that the mutantion effect has been drastically slowed, due to the fact that the pod was destroyed so quickly. She exihibits all of the strength and abilties of a mutant, but still has a human mind that knows good from evil. The scientists decide to use the half-mutant Miranda as the earths only hope to stop the invasion. And so begins your journey....




Boy, this is a tough category and I will try to explain my feelings on the graphic quality of this game. First off, the Full Motion Video at the beginning and throughout the game is top notch. Actually, it is some of the very best I have ever seen in a game, both in terms of quality and meaningfulness. The game opens with a FMV depicting the wars that are being fought on earth and then cleanly switches to the invasion of the pods. It explains how one unopened pod is being studied by scientists when it suddenly bursts open and turns Meranda into a half-breed horror. The movie is very gory in parts (a good thing!) and exhibits wonderful production techniques. Other FMV is dispersed throughout the game, some with very humourous and bloody results. When the game starts you are placed at a third person camera perspective controlling your character. It's this part that may initially disappoint some gamers. The main character is sprite based and tends to pixelate quite badly when zoomed up close. Thankfully you have the use of a zoom in or out button. I found that zooming out greatly reduces the pixellation and gives you more of a view of the overall screen. Once I tried this option, I began to forget about the blocky character graphics and started to enjoy the wonderful attention to detail that this game had to offer. Transparency is used to wonderful effect on buildings ala Project Overkill (when you step behind a building it turns translucent, allowing you to see what is behind it). Very nicely done. There are also a lot of characters and things going on in the screen at one time, yet I never experienced any slowdown. I guess that is one big advantage with using the lower Playstation graphics mode.

The animation is TOP notch. The light-sourcing is simply amazing. Buildings are often highlighted with flashing neon lights (especially in the Las Vegas mission). Some weapons give off incredibly colored plasma trails that fade off into the distance...Character animation is also well done and quite scary at parts when things pop into the screen that you weren't expecting. Here's the wierd thing, some of the creatures and animated objects are actually done with polygons. These objects are absolutely a wonder to behold. In one mission you are in Nebraska walking through the cornfields when suddenly a polygon tornado appears. As it approaches it grows in size, often covering a good portion of the screen. Another level, when you are in L.A., you are confronted with these flying creatures that look like a cross between a starfighter ship and a hummingbird. The attention to detail is simply amazing and must be experienced to be appreciated. I can only wonder what this game would have been like if everything was done in polygons...good lord. Anyway, the graphics, attention to detail and especially the animation really help to absorb you into the game.

Sounds and Effects

The sound effects in this game are varied and implemented to perfection. The usual weapon sounds are all nicely done, but it's the little extra's that really put it over the top. Take for instance the wonderful munching sound your character makes when she is chewing on the splattered remains of an innocent victim or monster. Tastey indeed!! Death cries and painful grunts from our heroine is also quite sweet. The music is very good also, although it does tend to get somewhat repetitive on some levels. All in all though it does fit the game well and adds to the overall experience of the game.


The overall objective of the game is to successfully secure each mission level by activating a security "web" over the site and ultimately destroying the space-based planetoid that is sending down the pods to earth. The creatures that you encounter are varied and quite original...(a bionic dog with a machine gun straped to it's back or a mutant mine laying cow to name a few). The game is played from a somewhat top-down isometric viewpoint. Character control, with the exception of the jumping, is extreemly tight and focused. It takes very little time to learn the control functions and become fluid with the gameplay. The mission levels are wonderfully laid out and imaginative. A great deal of attention has been paid to each and every mission level in an effort to mirror the locales. Take for instance the Las Vegas level: you are presented with casino's and some very bright, fancy buildings. In the Cape Canaveral level your character has to negotiate the famous florida swamps, avoid fire breathing alligators and find the launch code book to allow you to enter the missle silos. On the moon level, you notice that Miranda can jump higher due to the lower gravity. Another really nice feature is the ability to ride certain vehicles that you find throughout the game...there is a truck (which you have to periodically refuel), a hovercraft, a floating disc and a tank! This, in my opinion, adds an awesome level of fun. Using the tank to literally flatten the opposition is a great stress reducer.

The usual power-ups are located throughout each mission level in addition to a rather morbid twist...the twist being that you can also gain strength from eating the dead body parts of mutants or humans that you have managed to destroy. The down side to all of this is that if you eat too much of this "food", it accelerates your change to a full fledged mutant yourself...not a good thing. This often presents interesting situations where you are low on power and have just destroyed all lot of mutants all around you. Do you take a chance on finding a power-up or endulge yourself with fresh goodies strewn about you...hell, I say "eat till you puke!"

The game takes a long time to complete, some levels taking as much as two or more hours each. This game does however suffer the one fatal flaw found in most games of this type...once you are through with the game, there is little reason to return to it later. There is no high score to beat or new records to attain. Other than trying to find secrets that you may have missed from a previously played game, there is no real reason to go back and play it again. While this is a drawback, I wouldn't want it to sway your decision to purchase this game. There is just so much to discover and experience in each level that while you are playing the game it never becomes stale or boring.

Value for Money

Although lacking somewhat in the graphics department, this game is a lot of fun to play. It offers the gamer a grimm view of our earth and puts you in the role to make it all better. The levels are large, varied and implemented very well. It also has some of the best Full Motion Video that I have seen in a game. Taken as a whole, this game rocks and should provide you with many hours of enjoyment.





I had originally shelved this baby during the holiday rush of games. When I decided to go back to it and try to finish it, I was glad that I did.








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