Extreme Assault's whirling toward the PC with a healthy dose of arcade-style chopper action. This 3D shooter challenges you to fend off the advancing aliens that want to transform Earth's atmosphere into something that they can breathe--and we can t. Not for the flight-sim crowd, the combat-heavy missions task you with releasing imprisoned scientists and trashing atmospheric converters from the controls of a futuristic chopper and (occasionally) a tank. With MMX-tuned graphics, Extreme's headed for an impressive visual showing.
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If PC flight sims put you to sleep, Blue Byte has the answer to your air combat prayers with this raucous, arcade-style he-licopter/tank shooter. Alongside tremendous graphics and awesome sounds, Extreme Assault packs in great variety in its maps, weapons, missions, and enemies, making for an adrenaline-filled fight that doesn't require a pilot's license.
An Up And Down Game
Alien forces have taken up residence on Earth, bombarding its inhabitants with advanced weaponry. All hope seems lost until you unveil the next generation of defense vehicles: the Sioux AH-23 attack helicopter and the T1 tank. With the fate of the world in your hands, you have only one strategy: Extreme Assault.
But unlike most PC combat games, Extreme Assault tilts toward the console tradition, focusing more on hot-n-heavy action than the mechanics of handling your craft. With the right equipment (add a joystick to the minimum specs we listed), you can pump power into the helicopter's throttle and skim the treetops, easily turning a full circle to rout enemy ships with state-of-the-art weaponry. Controlling the tank, you can pound out and stomp down enemies with an unrelenting barrage of attacks.
Either way, your motive is the same in air or on land: Kill 'em all. Throughout the game, power-ups secreted in hidden areas help you achieve that goal. Of particular note, the well-done cockpit displays come in handy when you're attempting to take out a certain opponent or trying to recover your attack position.
Extreme Sensory Assault
The stellar graphics capture an impressive realtime 3D world, and the special effects, such as explosions and holograms, are without fault. Tremendous perspectives when diving, banking, or climbing add more thrills during combat. The sounc matches the graphics, intensifying the heart-pounding experience of all-out warfare with clear special effects, exceptional audio tracks, and your choice of MIDI or CD audio music.
While it may be a little short on plot, Extreme Assault has something for every gamer, whether it's graphics, gameplay, features, or even -sound. Blue Byte tried to appeal to everybody with this title. They did a hell of a job.
- In the chopper, the best strategy to use to take out opponents without taking too much damage is to come in low and hit 'em hard.
- If you're close to enemies, lay off the missiles and use your razor guns to bring them to their knees.
- Search each room thoroughly. More supplies and power-ups are just waiting to be found.
- In the tank, you can't out-maneu-ver opponents like you can in the chopper. Use guided missiles to ferret out faster enemies or to break down larger, impos-
- Always shoot the enemy heading your way. Afterwards, hit the brakes to let adjacent enemies cruise by, then slam a few rounds in them.
Every once in a while game reviewers encounter games they love so much that they just cannot stop playing them, no matter what their other responsibilities are. For me, Extreme Assault is such a game, with video, audio, and design features that seem absolutely ideal. While Blue Byte -- the German company responsible for developing this game -- is known for quality software (I gave its Archimedean Dynasty high marks earlier this year), this game takes the company to a new level. The action shooter genre is my favorite, and I have played a ton of games in this category, but when I opened the box and installed this game I was quite simply blown away.
The basic storyline in Extreme Assault is pretty standard: you are responsible for freeing the world from an alien race that has secretly set up operations on our planet and has sinister plans for all of us humans. To accomplish this objective, you control a high-tech combat helicopter and a futuristic tank at different points in the game, both of which have capabilities well beyond any weapons system that exists today. You attempt along the way to rescue kidnapped scientists and to destroy huge atmosphere transformation facilities, while facing a constant barrage from a quite varied assortment of extraterrestrial ground and air units.
It is important to note from the outset that Extreme Assault does not purport in any way to be a realistic combat simulation. Most helicopter and tank games on the market today pride themselves on how the cockpit controls, handling characteristics, outside appearance, and battle limitations of the depicted vehicles exactly replicate actual military units. The aficionados of these games, some of whom I call "simulation snobs," thumb their noses at action shooters because they do not offer comparable realism and instead provide what they call mindless violence. Well, to these condescending players (and to game reviewers who share their attitude) I say wake up! There are many of us who do not enjoy navigating through really complicated controls in order to accomplish mission objectives, who do not care whether the vehicle we command has any relationship to anything that actually exists, and who do not want to be bothered by such practical concerns as a machine overheating or running out of fuel. As to the accusation that action shooters are simply brainless "eye-candy," there are a huge number and variety of tactical decisions that have to be made in Extreme Assault, ranging all the way from (1) deciding where to go to get the best angle for shooting at enemies while at the same time avoiding their counterattacks to (2) choosing which weapon to use in particular situations given limited supply to (3) determining in what sequence to undertake a series of interrelated mission objectives.
The gameplay in Extreme Assault is incredibly intense and exciting. To complete the game you must successfully complete over 50 missions in six enormous operation zones containing extremely diverse terrain, including bucolic village settings, underground caves, man-made tunnels, narrow canyons, deep volcanoes, tropical jungles, deep ocean, and frozen tundra.
There are two innovative features I really like in playing this game. First, the mission briefings utilize the actual battlefield in "real time 3D" to illustrate your objectives, so instead of trying to decipher a long (and often boring) text description and to figure out what it means by a particular type of target, you actually can visually identify some of the targets and the topography involved in every mission before you start. This feature not only helps you clarify your tactics but also allows the game designers to give you subtle visual hints about how to complete missions successfully. Second, after each mission is completed you are not forced immediately to move on to the next one, but instead can continue exploring the battle area for weapons pickups, additional targets, or even just practice in moving your vehicle around. This ability is so nice because prior to mission completion you really have to focus just on your survival and the enemy's destruction.
The game controls are excellent, more intuitive and easier to master than in many comparable games. There is really extensive and highly customizable support for both keyboard and joystick (including the new force feedback variety); strangely missing, however, is any special game pad support, which fortunately with my Microsoft Sidewinder Game Pad is easily remedied by creating an automatically-loading "game profile" for Extreme Assault.
A wide variety of play options is available. The many choices include that you can play the game yourself or with a total of up to 4 players over a network (even with the fast-paced action, this works quite well); you can play at four different levels of difficulty (although only in the highest two do you have full access to all the operation areas); you can determine how you get the mission briefing (through text or voice); and you can decide whether you want a view from the cockpit or from outside your vehicle (whether it be helicopter or tank). As the game progresses you have a choice of three regular weapons -- a razor gun, a laser cannon, or a "fire flash" -- as well as three special munitions -- guided missiles, smart bombs, and thunderbolts (some of these are only available as pickups during the game).
You do not need to worry about saving the game after successfully completing missions, as that is automatically done for you, and you can start up again later right from the point where you stopped. One nice feature here is that the game menu facilitates the loading of any completed mission, a feature which is really helpful if you want to repeat one you particularly enjoyed. Some might complain that you cannot save games within missions, but to me it seems that they are short enough to make this largely unnecessary; since you can replay a mission an infinite number of times, you can plot your moves in advance as you progress through it.
The graphics are far and away the best I have ever seen in an action shooter. The 16-bit color is used to the fullest, and the artistic ability of the game's graphic designers is truly awe-inspiring. This is an area full of innovation, as in the choice of detail and visual effects one constantly encounters pleasant and stunning surprises. The game claims to have such an advanced 3D engine that it does not need any help from video accelerator cards, and I would have to agree the tight code that must have been used has left all competitors in the dust (of course, when creating an action game for the DOS environment there are still a few speed advantages over the Windows 95 environment, even with DirectX). However, the game does provide support for MMX technology and 3Dfx cards, and when the latter is used the graphic experience can only be described as truly heavenly. With the sole exception of Ubi Soft's POD, I have not seen a 3Dfx implementation of a game remotely compare to Extreme Assault in showing the full potential of the latest graphic advances. The feeling of sensual pleasure when playing a game with this level of visual quality is hard to describe.
The music and sound effects of this game, while not breaking existing standards the way the video does, are nonetheless uniformly excellent. Rather than hearing the usual "thump-thump-thump" tunes that support exciting gameplay but have little intrinsic musical value, one is treated to a beautiful and subtle orchestral score that blends right into the taut pace of the game without being at all intrusive. The title music is so gorgeous that I want to stop at the main menu just to listen to it, and that is highly unusual for me. The sound effects are realistic and varied, but never overwhelming. I am frankly tired of playing shooters where there is so much blasting noise going on that you can not even hear yourself think. The mission briefings are delivered in a clear authoritative voice, albeit with language a bit stronger than I feel is needed in this kind of game.
Unlike its previous action/strategy release Archimedean Dynasty, which had a full-size and full-length manual, Blue Byte has joined the pack in Extreme Assault and provided simply the slim jewel-case manual so common in today's games. However, the manual is better written, more lavishly illustrated with color photographs, and more comprehensive than most.
Required: 90 megahertz Pentium CPU, 16 MB RAM, 40 MB hard disk space, 2X CD-ROM drive, VESA-compatible graphics card, MS-DOS 5.0 or Windows 95 operating system
Extreme Assault is without question the best action shooter game (not to be confused with first-person 3D shooters or strategic war games, which are really quite different) I have ever played. While its basic structure and goals do not in any way represent a major revolutionary leap forward -- indeed, this type of game has been around in one form or another since the very beginning of computer games -- its implementation is so stunningly superior to anything else out there that it clearly merits a high rating. My one warning is that if you buy it you may suffer discontent playing any similar game around today, and you may be hooked for a whole lot longer than you think.