Robots, eh? Sneaky little metallic bastards, always plotting to take over the world and stink the place up with WD-40. You just can't trust them, whatever Isaac Asimov might have said, were he still breathing. Case in point: Forsaken 64. You turn your back for five minutes and the Mechanised Defence Force has taken over the entire planet. Security guard bloke, you are so fired!
The MDF, led by one particular tinhead going under the name of Babalas, has very much made Earth its own. Naturally, the former residents of the planet are quite keen to see this situation reversed, but they don't appear to have the bottle to deal with it themselves. Instead, they call on the services of a bunch of high-tech bounty hunters. That's where you come in.
Taking on the mantle of one of eight tough-ass guns-for-hire, it's your job to reclaim the Earth for its dispossessed fleshy masters by entering the subterranean lairs of the MDF and completing a series of increasingly nerve-scraping missions.
When all the missions are complete, the only thing left to do is ram a very large bomb up Babalas's output port and send him straight to Robot Hell, which is probably some cheesy animatronic exhibition at the Millennium Dome. Earth is free, humans are back in control, and we can get back to making money and watching cable TV. Bonus!
Those of a PC or PlayStation persuasion will probably have been peering at the screenshots already and muttering "That looks just like Descent," under their breath. Descent, for those not in the know, first popped up in 1995 on the PC and was a Doom-style first-person shooter with a difference - instead of being a big marine, a giant with a pair of friendly eyes, you were the pilot of a hovering ighter craft that had full freedom of movement within the underground complexes you were attacking. Left, right, forward, back, up, down, wherever you wanted to go, you were there. The enemies were a bunch of angular robots, and the levels were tangled webs of corridors and chambers that stretched out along all three axes. On the whole Descent was okay, but ultimately it was nothing that spectacular.
In Forsaken 64, you are the pilot of a hovering fighter craft that has full freedom of movement within the underground complexes you are attacking. The enemies are a bunch of angular robots, and the levels are tangled webs of corridors and chambers that stretch out along all three axes. Huhh.
However, Forsaken 64 really is spectacular. So there's one difference...
Forsaken 64's most obvious feature, the one you can't help but notice the instant you start playing, is its amazing lighting. The game is the first N64 title to feature genuine ight-sourcing effects (where the illumination of the environment is affected by the action going on within it), and we're not just talking having the walls illuminated for a fraction of a second from the muzzle flash of your gun. All the different kinds of weapons in the game - missiles, plasma bolts, lasers, rotary cannons, bombs - have their own particular coloured light that is cast over the surrounding area when fired, and that applies to both your guns and those of your clanking enemies. Exchanges of fire are accompanied by a lightshow that makes Blackpool illuminations look like a bunch of coloured lightbulbs strung up by mournful rain-dashed Lancastrians. Oh, er.
Colours, So Many Colours
Even with the limitations of the printing process (it's heartbreaking just how often a gloriously coloured screenshot turns into a flat and muddy shadow of its brightly-hued self when it's converted into a format that can be printed) you should, God and good registration willing, be able to see this for yourself. Some of the most dazzling moments occur when you enter a dimly-lit area and are able to draw a bead on your enemies by tracking the glow of incoming fireback to its source. With the flash and fury of gunfire, sci-fi film-style lighting and massive explosions, it's pretty safe to say that Forsaken 64 has the most impressive effects you will see on any machine. However, flashy effects don't make something great by themselves - if they did, then the best film ever would be Batman And Robin, and, y'know, it just isn't. Fortunately, Forsaken 64 has enough substance behind the dazzle to hold off accusations of it being nothing more than a Descent clone in pretty new clothes.
The octet of bounty hunters all have their own personalised hoverbikes, ranging from Beard's Hell's Angels-styte chopper to the baseball-hatted Trucker's flying bulldozer. Each bike has slightly different handling characteristics; although you're unlikely to notice much difference in the heat of a battle, there are subtle variations that mean skilled players will quickly develop their own favourite bounty hunter.
Getting used to the controls of the bikes is the biggest problem new players will face, far more than the fairly unthreatening drones that infest the early levels. Unlike Descent, where your craft stayed put once you released the controls, the bikes in Forsaken 64 automatically right themselves after, and sometimes during, complicated manoeuvres. In theory, this should make it harder for players to get lost in the levels, as they always have a point of reference. In practice, it's all too easy to wind up pointing in completely the opposite direction to what you were expecting. After a lengthy firefight, this can be quite disorientating, leaving you stumbling around the level like Oliver Reed after an all-day bender until you get your bearings.
Since you're able to move on three axes, the controls are more complicated than those found in a typical ground-based Goldeneye or Dulce-style game. Strafing is now possible (and essential) in four directions, left-right and up-down, and when combined with the 360° rotation provided by the analogue stick, you get a control system that is very flexible once you get the hang of it, but does take a while to reach full proficiency. It's not Wild Choppers complicated, and it's certainly a damn sight easier than the keyboard controls you'd find on a PC, but if the most involved control system you've used to date has been Yoshi's Story you're going to suffer from a little culture shock.
Earning The Knowledge
Each mission (there are over 20, divided into Easy, Medium and Hard difficulty - you only get to face Babalas if you fight through the Hard stages) is prefaced by a briefing that sets out the tasks you have to perform. Most of the time, said tasks involve you repeatedly pressing your fire buttons and annihilating the robot scum that get in the way of your gunsight. Once you've taken out all the robots infesting the level, you move onto the next. Still, man (or woman, Forsaken being an equal opportunities orgy of destruction) does not live by carnage alone, so to keep things lively certain levels require a bit more thought. 'Knowledge Base', the second level of the game, sets you the task of first locating a bomb that's vital to your mission, finding a central complex where it has to be dropped, then finally finding your way back to the exit (you did remember where you started, didn't you?) before it explodes. Oh, by the way, you also have to take down a boss in the process. Tricky stuff.
Having to perform other tasks than pure destruction does help keep you on your toes, but it can also make things rather frustrating. One level, 'Death To The Invader', requires you to defend your home base from an all-out assault. Sounds easy enough, just keep shooting, yes? Nuh huh. You have to protect a computer core from damage, but the core can be attacked at numerous locations, and some enemies just teleport in right on top of these targets. Battling away for ten minutes only to have the core wasted is annoying enough, but when you've barely been playing for a minute before a bunch of robots you haven't even seen blow up a part of the core you were nowhere near for the tenth time in a row, it's bloody infuriating!
In some ways, Forsaken 64's mission design is rather odd. The levels that offer the most all-out fun are the ones where your mission is simple search-and-destroy, but these are also the ones that you're likely to finish in just a few attempts. The more involved missions, by their nature, take you away from the always enjoyable task of blasting things straight to hell, but because the extra things you have to do aren't especially complex they come across as an irritating distraction rather than something to wrap your brain around. Still, on the whole, Forsaken 64's missions are entertaining, and there's enough there to keep you trying again even after you wind up as a mass of disparate body parts in a sticky mess on the walls, floor and ceiling. Where the game really gets hold, though, is when you forget about shooting robots, and start getting personal.
They're Gonna Getchoo
As well as the regular one-player game, Forsaken 64 offers two other modes of play. Battle Mode is a face off against up to three other bounty hunters, all controlled by the N64 and all gasping to see you turned inside out. In effect this is a Goldeneye-style deathmatch on one big screen, which means you get to keep all the detail and effects of the one-player game while at the same time being ruthlessly hunted down by opponents who can handle their bikes probably even better than you. Try playing the Battle Mode on the Gold setting, where there are three smart and tough enemies working against you, and you'll be lucky if you get out of the first chamber before you're torn to pieces.
In the tradition of saving the best until last, the last mode of play is the deathmatch. Like Goldeneye, the screen is split into quarters - in order to keep the speed up the amount of detail is lower than normal, but most of the lighting effects are retained. Like Goldeneye, you can have up to four people playing at once. However, unlike Goldeneye, if there are fewer than four of you, computer-controlled players can be drafted in to make up the numbers!
Forsaken 64's deathmatch mode is superb, every bit as playable as that of Rare's Bondage festival. With its big loud gun noises, wide range of weapons (Roy, as usual, used his traditional cowardly tactic of dumping mines everywhere and waiting for people to run into them) and well-designed arenas, it's definitely a future lunchtime/after hours crowd pleaser to rival Goldeneye and World Soccer 3. If it has any faults, they are that some of the arenas are a bit on the large side, even with four players chasing through them, and that you can't always tell who you are shooting at. You can spot Oddjob from a mile away, but some guy on a bike? Could be anyone.
A few more options in the deathmatch would have been nice as well. Your choices are pretty much limited to 'max frags' (first to a certain number of kills) and 'last man' (the survivor wins). A timed option or a 'no shields' game (if you're short on power-ups, it can take a geologic age to bring another player down) would have been good.
This is mere nitpicking, though. Forsaken 64 is one of the few games of late that really pushes the N64 -there's almost no slowdown ever, and in the middle of a pitched battle it looks dazzling - and it has the gameplay to match its looks. The boss of Nintendo of America said recently that there were going to be some amazing games coming from Acclaim, and he wasn't kidding. Nice one Iguana UK- Forsaken is one of IJ64 the best games of the year!
Forsaken 64 DownloadsForsaken 64 download
A fabulous Descent-style shoot-'em-up with unbelievable lighting and visuals. Lacks personality in multiplayer but worth investigation.
Underground Descent-style shooter with flashy lighting effects and tough, intelligent opponents, as well as a very good multiplayer game.
Acclaim seems to have taken a real liking to the N64 and it is really starting to show with some impressive new titles. Although Forsaken will be released on PC and PSX, it is nice to see the N64 flex its muscles. Let me be the first one to tell you that if this game is any indication of what the future holds for the N64, we may be in for some good gaming soon.
Forsaken has you blasting through tons of levels with tons of weapons against tons of enemies. If multi-player is your thing, you have a couple of choices that should keep you smiling while blasting your buddies. The game is based around a two page story that amounts to the fact that some scientists developed a means to manipulate matter at its most basic level, meaning human life will be revolutionized. We are looking at technology changes never even imagined before. As usual, the scientist screw it up and end up blasting the Earth. After trying to salvage as much as could be salvaged, the Earth was classified condemned and has been overrun by the scum of the galaxy. In a last ditch effort to save the planet, the government sends in a cover operation to try to reclaim the planet. The name of the operation is Forsaken and it is up to you to save the planet.
Forsaken can best be described as a first person shooter only in a high speed vehicle. The game has drawn close comparisons to Descent Maximum, only much better. While I think this is a fair assessment, Forsaken is a better looking and playing game. So if Descent Maximum was your cup of tea, this game will blow you away.
The game takes place in various tunnels, corridors, hallways and even under water. You choose a bike, called a pioncycle, from a number of different cycles to ride around the levels and blast away at the evils that lurk around every corner. I hate to start off with a complaint but there is one thing that I was a little disappointed with. There were a number of different cycles to chose from and the manual says the bikes have different attributes but there is no place to check to see what these different attributes are. You can only go by the different looks when selecting. I do want to point out that this is only a minor thing but it still deserves to be noted.
After you select your bike, you go into the first level. Each level has a mission that needs to be accomplished and you receive a briefing prior to starting the level. When you enter the first level, you are armed only with your Pulsar which is your default primary weapon that you will always have. After quickly blasting the first enemies you encounter, you will most likely find a weapons power-up of some sort. Your pioncycle has two different weapons systems. One is a primary weapon which is a basic weapon that fires either lasers or bullets and have high ammo supplies. The secondary weapon is things like missiles and mines. All in all, you can find a whole slew of primary and secondary weapons to help you make it to the end. I know that you are thinking that with this many weapons it is a pain in the butt to arm yourself with the correct one. One of the best parts of the game was the ease with which you could switch between your different weapons. Everything is very simple and if you happened to use up all of the ammo for that particular weapon, the game will automatically switch to the next available weapon so you are never left with your pants down.
At first I was a bit skeptical of the gameplay. I figured that it would get boring after playing a few levels and it would end up being monotonous. I was very surprised that the further I got into the game, the more I wanted to keep going to see what would happen next. I think they did a great job of mixing the all-out shooting and destruction with exploration. As the levels progress, finding door switches gets more difficult. For example, in the first few levels, there would be a panel next to the locked doors. All you had to do was shoot the panel and the door would open. After getting past the beginning, you were forced to go out and explore the levels for the switches to unlock the doors. They were no longer just sitting next to the door waiting for you to come along and blast them. The best part is that even though finding these switches to open doors is a big part of the game, I never felt that they overused the switch thing. I mean, how many games have you played where you have to flip a switch to open a door to another switch so you can access a third and so on. This game focuses on the high speed gameplay like it should so these switches were not the main focus.
Another great thing about this game is the different enemies. First off, there are a minimum of 16 different types of enemies ranging from stationary gun turrets to flying, laser shooting hunters. This does not even include the level bosses which are huge and very mean looking. It was great to have the different variations in enemies and the game does a great job of mixing the enemies up so you don't feel like you are just fighting the same bad guys over and over. Also, what I found completely amazing about the enemies was their intelligence level. For the most part, you can not sit there and shoot the thing until it explodes unless you are willing to take on some severe damage yourself. There were times when I would hide around a corner and use the strafe (very important to learn to use) to slide into the hallway where an enemy was waiting. After blasting and then strafing back out of the hallway, the enemy started to fire at the corner where I just hid. If I even stuck my little toe around the corner, he was laying missiles on me. This meant that there were no easy hide and shoot victories which was a nice change. Well, I should not say that there are no easy victories because occasionally you can stand in a doorway, shoot, and when the return fire comes in, you just back up and the door closes, shielding you from danger. Also, it was very cool when I would shoot a flying enemy because it did not blow up immediately but it knew it was about to go. So instead of dying a quiet death, it would Kamakazi and try to inflict one last blow. It was awesome to see enemies with the wherewithal to know they are about to explode and try to take you with them.
Most multiplayer games are usually a blast and this is no exception. You can play the multiplayer in two ways. The first is called Max Frag and is a timed game that sees who can destroy the most enemies in that time period. The second, and best, is called the Last Man. This is exactly like it sounds. You try to be the last man left. This mode has no time limit and blasting others is at its peak.
I do have a couple of complaints about the game aside from the fact that the cycles are supposed to have different attributes but there is no place to view these attributes. My biggest complaint is that the game does not include any sort of mapping device. I don't know how many times I went down the same tunnel thinking that it was something different. The complex levels scream for an auto mapper and I think that it really would have helped the game. My second complaint is more of a warning; people with motion sickness should stay far, far away. I am a roller coaster rider extreme so motion does not bother me but this game even made me feel a bit sick after playing for an extended period. I guess that could be a selling point for some people but don't say I did not warn you.
This is where the muscles start to be flexed. This game looks awesome. Everything is smooth, crisp, clear and detailed. How may first person games have you played where you get close to something and it turns into a distorted mess? Not in this game. From short range to long range, the enemies and surroundings all look great. Also, the developers have found the correct formula to make realist and awesome looking explosions. I love shooting one of the flying enemies from the sky because they start to smoke and instead of just exploding, they crash into the walls and explode into a beautiful ball of flames. Very cool.
I really enjoyed this game. The fast paced action coupled with a bunch of different enemies and weapons will keep you playing for hours. The graphics are top notch and watching those explosions never gets old. I think that this game is everything that other games have tried to be but failed. All in all, if you do not suffer motion sickness, you should check this game out. I don't think that it will be for everyone, especially on the Nintendo, but if you are not sure, it is worth the price of a rental for sure.