playstation homepage   Playstation > Whats New > PlayStation Reviews > Staff Review
PlayStation Game and Hardware Reviews

A.P.I Review: UNHOLY WAR
Developer: Crystal Dynamics OPTIONS: S.SHOT
SCREENSHOTS:
No.1   No.2   No.3
Distributor: Eidos 1-2 Player
Game Type: Action / Strategy Memory Card
Review Date: October 1998 Analog Compatible

Setting the Scene


You have inadvertently been selected to play a role in a fantasy styled
war that is being fought out between all sorts of mystical and
mechanical beings.  

There is the Arcanes; Living on the planet of Xsarra, the Arcanes have
maintained peace for thousands of years.  Although peaceful they are an
extremely powerful race, consisting of wizards, swordsmen, angels and a
few other species.  Peace has prevailed in an effort to maintain the
species instead of just killing one another off...but alas the Arcanes
grow bored and restless.  

The challenge the Arcanes so desire is about to be put to the test.  An
invasion force of cybernetic conquerors called the Teknos is about to
arrive.  The Teknos is a race of mechanical creatures that jump from
planet to planet and relieve the worlds of all their natural resources.
It seems that the planet Xsarra is their next target and the Arcanes
their next conquest.

Prepare yourself to engage in battle for ultimate supremacy playing as
either the Arcanes or Teknos.  It's a cruel war out their and you are
about to make it just plain Unholy...

Genre


The Unholy War is a combination strategy/board style game and action
packed fighting fun.

The two genres work quite well together and blend nicely during
gameplay.

Graphics


All of the characters and environments in The Unholy War are made up of
polygons.  The strategy screen is laid out in a hexagonal grid composed
of textures that represent various locations on the planet such as
water, Aur, dessert, industrial, etc.  The colors used are a combination
of vibrant hues (for the Aur mines) and drab earth tones and grays for
the majority of other blocks.   It's certainly pleasant enough to look
at. 

The action screen is basically a blown up view of one of the hex grids
that shows the entire area that is represents.  This is a more detailed
environment where you play out your war on a one-to-one basis.  This
screen can be zoomed in or out, tilted and rotated to give you optimal
viewing at all times.  The graphics here are decent with the use of
transparencies and other lighting effects to highlight certain areas. 

The creature models are well animated and move around the playing area
quite fluidly.  The real treat though is the cut screens that occur
before and after each battle.  Processed in real time, it faces up the
two opponents and really shows off some nice polygon designs and light
trails.

Overall the graphics are very functional for this style of game and
contribute nicely to the overall excitement of the battles.

Sounds and Effects


The musical score is militant and driving, as it should be for a battle
style game.  It features futuristic synthesized sounds that are blended
in with the scores back-beat.

I enjoyed the various sound effects utilized throughout the game, from
the crunching footsteps of the heavier beasts to the sounds of the
various weaponry The Unholy War has a good assortment noise going on.

There are also sound bytes for each character that is used in victory
and death.  Some of them are outrageous!

Playability


The Holy War is a nice attempt to give action lovers a glimpse at a
strategy style game.  It's not too intense so newbies can pick it up
right away, but it's open enough to provide veterans a nice diversion.

THW actually consists of two separate games:    

The first is an all out action-fest shoot 'em up called Mayhem that
drops you in a no holds barred fight where winner takes it all and the
loser is eliminated from the action.   Players have the option of
choosing from 14 diverse battlegrounds to conduct their war.  Pick from
either the Arcanes or the Teknos, you select your individual character
and go to war. Winner is the last one that is left standing in this 3-D
modeled action packed fighting mode.   Each combatant has three unique
attacks or powers and handles very differently from the others.  

Various health and energy power-ups are littered throughout the playing
field and can be obtained by simples touching it.  Of course, your
opponent probably wants that power too...

The other game Strategy Mode, which is actually a combination of the
Mayhem Mode and a board style strategy game.          

Here you begin each mission on a new part of the planet, which is laid
out in a grid of hexagons.   Once again you can choose to play as either
the Arcanes or Teknos and elect to play against the computer or a human
opponent.  The object is simple, wipe out the other side before you go
belly up.  

Each team normally has a home base that is used as the starting point in
each mission.  This base has the ability to produce new characters for
you to place on the board and bring into battle.  Lose the base and you
lose the ability to generate help! Up to 10 characters can be presented
and controlled on the board at any time, but each mission usually starts
you off with 3 or 4 players.  

It's not as easy as it sounds to get extra characters though as they
must be purchased and you only have a small supply of Aur as the game
starts out.  You cultivate cash (Aur) in a number of ways.  You can earn
10 ingots automatically at the end of each turn, you can trade in
(retire) a warrior and receive half their value in Aur or you can mine
for it.  The fact that Aur is located is strategically placed hex's
around the board, moving your characters there first is usually a pretty
good plan.   

Once you get to a hex that is adjacent to the opponent, you can elect to
engage in battle or skip a turn.  Of course, the only real choice is to
engage and destroy...  This is when the game switches to the Mayhem mode
and you fight it out in a 3-D world that represents the defenders hex.  

Each character has their strengths and weaknesses and it's usually a
good idea to try and match up a creature that has superior abilities
against one of a weaker species.  Some creatures in the game are
juggernauts and have the ability to wipe out a side all on their own if
controlled properly.   

Movement is as simple as selecting a hex within each characters range of
motion and then clicking on it.  Once in Mayhem Mode though, things heat
up a bit it's up to you to maneuver your creature against the opponent.
Control in this mode is rather good once you get used to the characters
abilities and individual styles.  There are also lots of different areas
across the terrain that can inhibit or enhance you movement, depending
on how you use them.    

It's not like this style of game has never been tried before...it has.
It just that hasn't been done this good since the ancient masterpiece
-Arcon- game was first introduced many years ago.   

The action is pretty good and the strategy elements addicting enough to
keep single players interested for a decent amount of time, but add
another human player and you could be sitting in from of the TV playing
this title for a nice long time.

Value for Money


I found the one player game to be rather enjoyable with lots of missions
and the opportunity to play as the Arcanes or Teknos.   I also liked the
fact that I could choose to play a strategy style game or just jump
right into a slugfest with the Mayhem Mode.

The real excitement and replay value though comes in the form of the
two-player game.  Here you can grab a friend and really duke it out in
either the Mayhem of Strategy modes.  Both modes provide hours of
enjoyment and could easily be classify The Unholy War as a good party
game.
Opinion
TOM
GRAPHICS: 16/20 I really enjoyed playing through The Unholy War. I thought it was a nice enough diversion that provided a good number of hours of enjoyment.

It's combination of strategy and action/arcade elements may attract new players to each genre and actually work pretty well together.

The graphics and sound effects don't set any new plateaus but are appropriate for this style of game...they work.

The two-player game is killer and should really enhance the titles replay value. Oh, the disc also includes a playable demo of the forthcoming title Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver on it. As you might suspect, this just sweetens the deal.
SOUND: 7/10
PLAYABILITY: 44/50
VALUE: 16/20
OVERALL 83%

 

    GAMES        Get your PSX games HERE!