Review of Extermination
The story is based in the remote reaches of Antarctica, Fort Steward is a secret US government facility specializing in alien research. Players take on the role of Dennis Riley, a member of the Marine Special Forces elite RECON unit Red Light, on a mission to investigate a distress call emitting from the base.
So there youve got it… in a couple of sentences we find the words: secret facility, US government, alien research and Marine Special Forces, apparently all the basic ingredients required for yet another addition to the third person perspective survival horror genre. The plot wont come as a total surprise as you quickly learn the marines have landed on the damaged facility only to discover most of the workers are already dead… or have been possessed by hideous mutant forms. Even Rileys best buddy quickly gets sucked in and spat out. Before very long it all lands on your lap, because taking on the role as the games main character its up to you to kill everything that spits green slime, completely destroy the facility and finally get the girl. So whats new?
Extermination doesnt get off to a very good start and maybe the power of the Playstation 2 could have something to do with it. The intro and intermittent cut scenes throughout the game are of the highest standard with character mouth movements unbelievably realistic. Unfortunately their lips have been synced specifically for the Japanese version and the end result when translated into the English language provokes the same reaction as watching a badly dubbed foreign movie. Now add to this some of the worst voice acting imaginable… shame!
In-game, the character visuals are impressive, possibly some of the best seen on PS2 so far. Rich, deep textures really make their profiles stand out from the backgrounds and they are a treat to watch in motion, especially when performing lifelike swinging actions such as clambering across overhanging monkey bars. On the downside the monsters are nothing special to look at. The colors used for each of them are so uninspiring and severely lack any imagination being void of anything remotely bloody. As for the slithery slug-like creatures that infest the facility, seeing them scale the walls for the first time is laughable rather than horrifying. They dont even appear to be on the wall surface (similar to when a racing car sometimes seems to be slightly above the track rather than actually on it). The best of a bad bunch is a selection of water apparitions baring remarkable similarities to the water alien from the movie The Abyss.
As far as the scenery is concerned it also hits peaks and troughs. One moment its dull and featureless with too much gray and brown used. The next its alive and vibrant with many wonderful smoke, fire and water effects put to good use. Things do improve as halfway through the game Riley must venture out into a full-blown Antarctic blizzard and I guarantee its so realistic that youll strain your eyes trying to see through it that little bit further.
Action takes on the usual survival horror format with many frightening beasties to kill using your trusty M4. Rather than seek out additional weapons to increase firepower, upgrades are hidden within crates and boxes. Soon your basic M4 will have shotgun, rocket and flame-throwing secondary capabilities with sniper and torch attachments. Combat is made relatively easy by offering two aiming methods. From the third person perspective a laser device will automatically lock onto the nearest enemy, while switching to first person mode offers the freedom to manually aim and fire. When bullets run low an ammo store must be found where maximum stocks may be replenished. This system makes combat relatively simple, perhaps too easy for the veteran gamer.
Extermination takes a slight twist by offering two different forms of damage intake. Should a creature slash, bite or shoot Riley then his health gauge will reduce dramatically and must be topped up by medical packs littered around the playing area. But should he inhale green parasitic bacteria then his immunity count slowly begins to rise and his visuals blur at regular intervals as if consciousness is slowly slipping away. Once infection reaches 100% he must quickly find a medical facility and use a MTS vaccine before his life drips away entirely. Its a nice touch and well handled. I was equally impressed by the way the cold outdoor environment affected Ridleys health as sub-zero temperatures caused gradual damage until a thermal coat was found and worn.
Gameplay and control tend to let this game down slightly. Moving your character along a narrow ledge proves to be a regular frustration and a fussy process. The lack of a walk button ensures that he will constantly overstep the mark and plummet to his doom or require the entire section to be replayed. While the characters abilities are wide ranging (climb, jump, grab, shoot, duck, open, crawl, pick-up, action) they are all assigned to a single button. This severely limits the players options and you never feel as though you are involved in any decision-making. The same goes for the lack of puzzle solving. Rather than be allowed to freely investigate an area a brief cut-scene always shows you what to do and precisely where to go. For example, to advance further in the game a computer code is required. It would have been nice to move a few blocks around or solve a cryptic clue, but instead a brief cut-scene shows a girl writing down the code with her finger on the condensation of a window. Even if you had only been show the code in a mirrored version… but no, the camera swings around to simply give you the full 8-digit number. This kind of makes the players mind totally redundant, which is not good at all.
The sound effects and music again have good points and bad. A tense soundtrack, accurate shooting recoil and realistic foot sounds reacting to each environment is ruined by the ham acting (why do they always try to impersonate John Wayne?), while some of the creature noises bare more resemblance to a monkeys tea party.
In attempting to capture all the best bits from MGS, Syphon Filter, Resident Evil and Silent Hill it ends up as a jack of all trades… master of none. Overall Extermination falls short of the mark and contains nothing we havent really seen before.
OUR PLEDGE: We promise that we have fully played 'Extermination' before writing this review. The scores given above are our honest opinion and were not influenced in any way by the manufacturer or distributor of the game.
This review was written by Martin © Absolute PlayStation
Click here to view our 35 Extermination in-game screenshot slideshow
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