The three moons of the planet Ioxia (eye-oh-sha) are your quadrant’s only source of Mazrium, the precious element that serves as the basis for all current technologies and power sources. The mining of Mazrium has screeched to a halt, because the ancient Ioxian citadel -- built long ago to protect the gateway to the mining operation but long since made inoperable -- has eerily come to life, shutting off all access to the planet’s moons. It seems that the citadel is built to repel any massive assault, so there may be only one way to penetrate its defenses: send in one heavily-armed and experienced soldier to disable the security systems and knock out the citadel’s power sources. There is no agreement as to who should be sent. The Universal Mining Guild has hired Eleena Brynstaarl, a humanoid-feline mercenary, as their representative. The planet Treydan, home to a mighty reptilian race, has sent their greatest warrior, Kamchak, to aid the cause. But there is also Dan Blaze, a human-cyborg miner who has been trapped on one of the moons. Dan is just looking for a way home … and through the citadel may be his only way.
Eradicator is a close cousin to games like Doom and Duke Nukem 3D, but it includes a few nifty features that make it a little special. To begin with, you may choose to play from a first-person perspective or a third-person viewpoint (watching your character from behind). Although I found myself sticking with the more familiar first-person interface, I appreciated the added option. Another plus is the PIP (picture-in-picture) feature. Like the wall-screens in Duke Nukem, many of the consoles in Eradicator allow you to view other parts of the level. But unlike Duke, Eradicator will often let you manually control other objects in the game -- not just see them. For example, there were several spots where I had to control an enemy robot and get him to sneak past the security system and knock out the power supply (which, in turn, would kill the security system). When I tried to do it myself, the door to the power supply slammed shut the moment I tripped the security sensors, and I had to reload my game. Control of your character can be accomplished via keyboard, joystick or mouse. As a traditional keyboard guy, I found playing Eradicator with the keyboard very easy. The game lets you customize keys and their functions, as well as mouse and joystick settings if that’s more your style. Your character will be able to jump, aim up or down, and also has an inventory option for the use of various found objects (such as the low-grav boots, which let you jump higher and farther).
You may play Eradicator as any of its three main characters. Each character has its own strengths and weakness as well as its own main weapon. You’ll find Kamchak to be the strongest and most resistant to damage, while Eleena is fleetest of foot but also more vulnerable. Dan Blaze has the greatest balance between speed, strength, and toughness. Aside from weapons and characteristics, each character has its own opening level as well! For instance, if you are Dan, you must fight your way off of the moon, finding the shuttle that will take you to Ioxia. From the second level on, the missions are the same for each character, but what a nice way to start … The number and variety of weapons, power-ups, and enemies is quite surprising. There are 15 distinct weapons, but you really only need two or three to get through most areas. It sure is fun to use the flame thrower or a roving mine to waste your opposition, though. There will be special instances when you’ll actually have to use a detonation mine or similar item to destroy a certain target, so you’ll want to grab everything you see as a general rule.
Level design in Eradicator is truly mission-based, for which Accolade should receive some kind of award, because the old "kill the big monster to open the magic door" design has gotten pretty old. You’ll still find some of that style of thinking here, but tempered by many more interesting objectives. On each level you’ll have to perform specific tasks in order to move on—not just kill every enemy (although you’ll probably want to do that as well). Important rooms are given names, and when you enter one, a message will appear on your screen, saying "Generator Corridor #3" or something similar. Those of you who just want to run around and blow up stuff will have to pay attention to these messages. To get into a given area, you may have to find and disable the power generator that is powering that door’s security system. Makes sense, doesn’t it? That means more fun if you, like myself, have a brain as well as a trigger finger. Occasionally, you will knock out a security system only to see an invulnerable repair droid come and begin repairing it, giving you X amount of time to get through the door you just gained access to. Sometimes, when you’re running to such a door, enemies will get in your way. You won’t have time to sit back and take pot-shots at them like you might have in Doom. There’s no time for that sissy-play; you’ll have to force the issue … cool.
Graphically, Eradicator looks very much like Duke Nukem 3D, although I’d have to say that the overall graphic quality is just a hair below its esteemed colleague. Objects become a little blocky close up, and some look a little rough (the space shuttle at the end of Dan Blaze’s opening level looks like a chunk of granite). But none of this really affects the gameplay at all, and I’d say that after you get into the missions, you’ll be having way too much fun to care. On a positive note, there are many nice graphic effects in the game, including animated fires, exploding glass (well, it explodes after you shoot it) and boiling lava pits. Also featured is a nice variance of textures, something I really wanted in Quake.
The sound effects in Eradicator are what you might expect: explosions, shots being fired, doors opening, etc. And although they are certainly up to the genre standard as far as quality is concerned, music is the shining star of Eradicator’s audio features. It is gloomy, aloof, foreign. It’s the music that Quake should have had. It actually makes you feel like you’re in an adventurous new environment, without intruding on your sensibilities or becoming too repetitious. Little constant rhythm is employed, and while some Doom-heads might find that fact disappointing, I found it refreshing. Music doesn’t have to be frenetic or patterned to induce an adrenaline rush. A tune you cannot memorize is constantly fresh, always mysterious, which might not work for Madonna or Gershwin, but will for Eradicator.
Eradicator comes with one CD jacket booklet that describes the game’s story, setup, configuration and multiplayer options. It does not touch on many of the game’s objects themselves, which I found rather disappointing. I would have liked at least a chart of weapons, enemies and power-ups to be included. There is an on-screen section that gives pictures of objects found in the game, but it doesn’t describe them or suggest possibilities for their uses. I felt that one of the strong selling points of Eradicator was the sheer number and diversity of its weapons and game objects, and Accolade would have done well to emphasize these features more in the documentation.
486 DX2-66, DOS 5.0 or higher, 8 MB RAM, 2X CD-ROM drive, 45 MB hard drive space (85 if you want cinematic effects and ambient sounds), sound card, keyboard
Recommended: Pentium/90 MHz or better, 85 MB hard drive space
Reviewed on: P-120, 16 MB, 4X CD-ROM drive, Diamond Stealth 64 video
Eradicator is a very solid 3D title. It borrows a little too heavily from its predecessors to be considered a revolution in the genre, but then no one said a game had to revolutionize the industry to be worth playing. I’d say Eradicator lands just this side of greatness: it may be a temporary stop for those of you who live for "the next big thing" in 3D gaming, but the design, interface, and game options will provide a much greater number of you with a good time and maybe some lost sleep. For that reason, it deserves a score of 87 out of 100.