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A.P.I Review: VIPER
Developer: Infograme OPTIONS: S.SHOT
No.1   No.2   No.3
Distributor: Ocean 1 Player
Game Type: Shoot-em-up Password Save
Review Date: August 1998 Dual Shock

Setting the Scene

There was a time when 2D shooters like Raiden, 1942, and more recently 
Raystorm , ruled the arcades. You would command a lone spacecraft or fighter 
plane against an endless horde of enemies. Only you, quick reflexes and your 
sore index finger stood between the earth and the constant stream of drone 
bad guys and end of level bosses. 

It seems like the mindless shooter genre is experiencing a minor comeback 
with future releases of the very brilliant N20 and not so serious, Frenzy 
(check out our review in the very near future). This trend continues and 
expands with the release of Viper, best described as a 3D Raiden with 

Put simply, Viper is a 3D helicopter blaster on rails, you take control of 
one of three choppers and proceed to wade your way through waves of enemies 
in an effort to free the earth from alien forces attempting to take over 
(what else would they do, they're aliens). 

The plot? If you REALLY need to know why you're putting a blister on your 
thumb then it's because every governmental power on Earth is slowly being 
infiltrated. Control is being diverted. Alien forces are conquering the 
planet, gradually eradicating humanity, and we haven't yet realized. Only 
one person know the truth and only you an save humanity. You are Viper, a 
crusader armed with a state of the art attack helicopter and a need to blow 
stuff up... blah, blah, blah.  Who cares, just show me the ACTION!


Viper bares a striking resemblance to Raiden, only in 3D and viewed from 
behind (instead of from above). You have very little freedom of movement.  
You can't stop and smell the roses since most of your time is spent pumping 
the fire button and dodging the oncoming enemy. So, it's a modern 3D-arcade 


Graphically, Viper is above average. The opening FMV, the menu system 
presentation and most importantly in-game graphics are all top-notch stuff, 
with a few exceptions.  You are introduced to Viper with a very smooth 
looking CG sequence at the beginning of the game.  This movie quality intro 
serves to show you just who you are, who the bad guys are and why you want 
to blow them up. Going for about 3 minutes this intro is, as usual, 
unnecessary to the game but still a nice touch.

The Options screens are all very high-tech looking.  The clean and sharp 
appearance adds to the dark atmosphere the game creates.  For the majority 
of the game the graphics are excellent.  Fast moving, scaling and exploding 
enemies are all fully 3D and very smoothly done.  One of the most impressive 
graphical effects are the explosions, and there are certainly plenty of them.  
Each explosion causes colorful shockwaves to radiate from the point of origin 
and the surrounding area lights up as the shockwaves approach.  

The initial levels in the game are all very dark and it is a little hard to 
make out the details on most of the fast moving enemies, but as the game 
progresses the environment changes from well-lit canyons and deserts to 
underground tunnel systems.  The entire playing environment is realistic 
and generally well done.

Overall the graphics in the game are very impressive. Given that Viper is 
really just a 2D shooter in disguise it is good to see the developers going 
the extra yard to put some nice little graphical touches in, like real time 
light sourcing and some quality FMV.  The only major floor with the visuals 
is some very bad clipping, especially when your helicopter makes contact with 
an enemy, a wall or building.  Get too close to a side wall and you will 
appear to go right through it.  This can be a little ugly and it happens 
far too often. 

Sounds and Effects

Viper scores big points in the music and effects department.  While the 
music isn't something you're likely to want to listen to without the game 
(unlike Wipeout or N20), it does range from orchestral numbers to thumping 
beat-driven techno.  The music also changes according to the action during 
the game, with each end-of-level boss having their own theme.  Overall, the 
musical score that accompanies you on your mission is very well presented 
and compliments the frantic gameplay very well.  

The in-game effects are equally high in quality.  Personally, any game that 
gives you the choice to play in Dolby Surround will always score big points.  
Being a shooter the in-game effects mainly consist of shooting and explosions.  
In Dolby Surround mode the explosions actually seem to come from different 
points in the room and as you fly past the enemies the shots and effect sounds 
actually travel from the front to the rear.  It is quite an experience 
listening to the sound as the developers intended, if you don't have a 
Surround Sound system you're really missing out on something since you're 
just not doing the game justice playing any other way.


Viper is about as custom-made as you would want a shooter to be.  Before 
starting your game you can decide which difficulty level to play, adjust the 
sound (mono, stereo of Dolby Surround) and configure your controller buttons.  
In most shooters, the difficulty level usually effects the number, speed and 
type of enemies that are present.  Viper introduces a new twist.  

The difficulty level you select effects not only the enemies but more 
obviously the type of helicopter you are flying.  On Easy level you are armed 
with a very fast, agile and heavily armored bubble chopper.  On Medium you 
are in a bigger, slightly slower, and less armored chopper while on Hard you 
are flying a behemoth sitting duck with very little armor and handling like 
a truck.  This is a nice little twist on the difficulty levels since it 
essentially give you three different flying styles and forces you to adapt 
depending on which setting you have chosen.  

Once in the game, the flying style is very similar to G-Police. The game 
supports the Dual Shock controller so control is precise and you can actually 
feel the shock as your chopper is hit by enemy fire.  The controls on easy 
mode is a little too responsive and you often find yourself over-correcting 
for the agility of your little chopper.  Set the difficulty onto medium and 
this problem is solved, but you are an easier kill since your armor is 
decreased slightly.  

From the very beginning of your first game of Viper you know you are in for 
some real shooting action.  The first level of the game has you flying 
through a night time city-scape in your attack chopper.  Multiple enemies 
fly from all directions.  Some provide a mere annoyance but others prove a 
constant threat to your survival.  Luckily your heavily armed and armored 
attack helicopter provides you with the means by which you will survive and 
fight back.  

Your Heads-up display is helpful by highlighting the weak points of the enemy 
allowing you to make a one shot kill on most of them, if you're good enough.  
Each level in the game represents a new and fresh environment, starting with 
the City and progressing though areas such as canyons and desert landscapes. 
Your senses are constantly assaulted.  

Gameplay is not really effected by the different environments and they only 
serve to distract you from your tasks, however, the variety of background 
and settings is useful in breaking the monotony a little.  Each level has 
several check-points where you will restart should you die during the level.  
This saves you the pain of replaying an entire level if you get killed near 
the end.  There are also several hidden and special stages in the game which 
generally involved picking up more points or performing feats of skillful 
flying in order to get bonuses or additional power-ups.

As you wade your way through wave after wave of enemies, you are given the 
opportunity to pick up various power-ups, of which there are four types - 
Shields, Primary Weapon, Secondary Weapon and Smart Bomb.  Shields are a 
temporary survival device, if you have one in stock you can use the triangle 
button to give you temporary invulnerability from the enemy's attacks.  The 
Primary and secondary weapons are automatically fitted to your chopper when 
you pick them up and you are now bothered with the chore of having to select 
them when you want to use them so just keep punching that fire button.  A 
good feature of the Weapon power-ups is that the are preserved for you, even 
after you die.  So the effects of picking up multiple power-ups is cumulative 
and permanent.   

The Smart bombs are not all that smart, but they do a nice job of clearing 
the screen of all enemies with one swift blast.  The power-ups are very 
obvious on the screen and very easy to pick up.  In fact, it would probably 
be harder to avoid them, which is a good thing because you'll probably need 

I may be giving the impression that the gameplay has no flaws, this is 
unfortunately not true.  I found as I played Viper that I yearned for a 
little more freedom of movement.  Actually, I yearned for a whole lot more.  
Since you are inexplicably compelled to progress through the level at a pre-
determined constant speed, any effort to divert your chopper off the pre-set 
course is usually met with an untimely (and annoying) death.  It would have 
been really nice to be able to explore the detailed environments and clear 
an entire level of enemy.  As it is, should you miss a bad guy then you can't 
go back and finish him off, you just have to keep going.   

Some levels have a number of crossroads where you must decide which route to 
take, so the game isn't entirely on rails but this doesn't really help my 
need for more freedom.   This lack of freedom seems very natural in 
traditional 2D shooters but in a 3D environment freedom is implicit, the 
lack of it only detracts from the game.

Another bad point is the end-of-level bosses.  Killing a boss generally 
consists of flying around I circles and shooting a lot.  The bosses don't 
tend to shoot back and only occasionally try and defend themselves.  A minor 
complaint but a little disappointing if you're expecting a stand-up fight at 
the end of the level.  

Forgetting the minor complaints, Viper is a classic shooter.  What more can 
you ask for, hundreds of enemies, lots of power-ups, speed, color, and 
explosions.  While not entirely original in the shooter genre, Viper 
certainly bring us an update on an old theme and offers some new features 
that are sure to keep fans of big explosions and mindless finger pumping 
occupied until N20 is released.

Value for Money

This section could easily be a copy & paste from any shooter ever reviewed.   
The longevity of this titles is severely restricted by the narrow scope and 
lack of variety within the gameplay.  While shooting everything in sight is 
fun for a while it soon gets very boring.  

Luckily the quality graphics, sound and special/hidden levels make playing 
Viper a worthwhile experience.  As with all shooters, your mileage may vary.  
If you enjoy the genre then Viper will keep you entertained for a while, if 
you want a cerebral challenge, get Chessmaster 3000.  I recommend you hire 
Viper before you buy.
GRAPHICS: 15/20 I think that Martin has something against me, he keeps giving me shooters to review and I think I'm getting some kind of repetitive strain injury in my thumb.

Don't get me wrong, I love shooters and Viper is no exception. I love being able to sit down, turn on the Playstation and turn my brain off. Mindless shooting and pretty explosions are good for a bout of aimless destruction.

Viper pulls off the 'shooter' game very well. All of the elements for success are there, lots of enemies, lots of power ups, lots of options and lots of music and sound effects. The only real let down in the game is the bad clipping and on-rails gameplay style, which means you have no freedom of movement.

If you see something you want to shoot you better get to it fast or you're likely to just fly right by, in fact, you could probably complete most levels without shooting a single enemy, just fly right by and wait for the boss to appear at the end.

If you're into shooters and you're waiting around for N20 to arrive on the shelves (November at time of publication) then Viper may serve well to fill the gap and keep your thumb aching until N20 arrives.
SOUND: 9/10
VALUE: 13/20


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