Resembling a game you'd find on a next-gen system, HyperBlade aggressively blazes new trails for PC players in search of innovative action/adventure gameplay.
HyperBlade plays like roller hockey meets Roller-ball. A no-holds-barred battle-sports contest set in a 3D hippodrome, HyperBlade is replete with stats and options for sports gamers and a scorching pace for action gamers. Play modes include full season, tourney, single game, and playoffs. A choice of 12 teams, customizable players, and 12 arenas with ramps, trenches, and traps round out the options. Power-ups. enhanced attributes based on increasing skill levels, custom armor, and projectiles tame the action gamer's bloodlust.
The game sacrifices smooth textured polygonal looks in favor of fast, enhanced play. The motion-captured moves of inline skating's top talent are evident in the variety and verve of the bladers' 200 moves, which include 360s, flips, rail-slides, and dives. Up to four players can battle over a network.
It's the future, and the lust for blood that lurks beneath western civilization's thin veneer of humanity has risen and boiled over. "Sport" is no longer a good-natured competition, with the occasional rush of a violent penalty offense. No, in the future of HyperBlade, body parts are regularly broken and ruptured on the playing floor and even the infrequent decapitation isn't enough to halt the proceedings. In fact, the severed head of an unlucky player is always used to score the next goal -- while the crowd cheers on. It is, indeed, a sad prospect for the future of humankind. It is also one awesome frigging game.
It goes something like this: Two teams of two people each inside a large boat-hull-shaped arena with various obstacles, objects and ramps surrounding them. The Rok is thrown into play from the center of the field, and the action begins: Get the Rok and throw it into the opponent's goal. (Actually there are three members on each team, but the goalies are computer-controlled.) While you're at it, see if you can beat, break, or even kill the guys on the other team. Violence is not a byproduct occurrence -- it is a necessity. If you try your hand at playing "fair," you will be crushed. I promise. So hit them as much as you can. You might be able to hit them with the killball or a landmine, or maybe kick them in the head with your skate.
The best way to describe the movement in HyperBlade is to say that the players move the way players in a video game like this ought to move. They skate, jump, fall, and beat each other to death with a fantastic fluidity. I've heard some folks who played the demo complain that it was difficult to get their bearings and to make the players do what they wanted, but the most I can say to that is that there might be something of a learning curve to the controls. It may take an hour or so before you're comfy with the movement. Also, as you get better at controlling the players, the more you are able to make them do, kind of like Mortal Kombat. There are side kicks, interceptions, and other fancy things you can do, but it takes a while to learn how to do them.
It might be worth pointing out that I didn't play the game with a joystick, but it does, actually, seem like a joystick kinda game. Don't get me wrong -- the game rocked my keyboard just fine ('til my fingers hurt sooooo bad), but I might have enjoyed it even more if I used a different controller.
The 3D rendering might leave something to be desired in the minds of a few people -- you can't see their faces, and the "detail" of the art isn't so great -- but it's a fair trade for the kind of usability we get this way. I'll take this over a beautifully designed version of Pong any day of the week.
Fair in most places, great in some. The crowd cheers when you do something cool, like an extreme jump or making a goal. There was some background music; a repetitive synth riff that seemed to suit the action. One effect that I liked in particular was the banging of plastic and the grunting of team members when they collided. It reminded me of those football commercials where the camera is on the scrimmage line, and they go at each other.
The quality of the sound, by the way, was great, but even if it'd been average and below, I still would've loved the game. I hope I don't sound as though I'm knocking the sound designers, 'cause I'm not. It's just that the visual aspects of the game are so damn visceral that they consume most of your attention.
I wish I'd sat next to these guys in junior high algebra. If you were to play multiplayer with one other person, it would be difficult to tell which team member your opponent was currently using and which was computer-controlled. It might not be impossible, but I wouldn't bet the farm.
Admittedly, the artificial intelligence required for a game like this might not be as complex as, say, Quake, but this is still some damn fine cranial construction. There isn't any general behavior by which you can tell you're playing a computer. In other games you sense the difference immediately; here, you have to look for giveaways, but you really don't have much time to look.
Thirteen and up. It says so right on the box.
There is gore, I suppose, but it isn't detailed gore. This kind of thing is such a tough call. There is decapitation, followed by the severed head rolling around the arena and being used as the Rok for the remainder of the round. If that's too much for you, avoid the game.
Arrrrrrgggggg!!!!! No modem play!!!!!!!! Arrrrrrrrggggggg!!!!! To be fair, there is LAN play, but most folks don't have convenient access to a local area network. If you have a friend you've been dying to behead and kick the crap out of, you can't do it in the HyperBlade arena unless you know somebody with a private gaming lab.
There are twelve different teams, each with its own home arena, but no obligation to play there. You can play Houston against Las Vegas in the Moscow stadium, if you want. The twelve are well balanced, too, and I found that it was kind of fun to try formulating approaches to winning based upon my team's strong and weak points. It was fun to pit a strong, durable but clumsy pair of bone crushers against some fast and accurate wussies and try and discover the most effective strategy for the two. This might be old hat to sports game fans, but to me it was a new, fun thing to do.
All the usual on/offs are included: music, sound effects, and so on. One notable feature was the option to let my computerized teammate score, or to restrict their play to passing only. (It's actually a more satisfying game when I beat the other guys, but both kinds of play had advantages.)
100% Windows 95 compatible computer system (including compatible 32-bit drivers for CD-ROM drive, video and sound cards, and input devices. Pentium 90 MHz processor, 16 MB RAM, 2X CD-ROM drive, 80 MB ofuncompressed (emphasis mine) hard drive space, 256 color SVGA graphics, VESA local bus or PCI video card with 1 MB RAM, MS Windows 95 English language operating system, 100% Win 95 compatible mouse, 100% SoundBlaster compatible sound card
This game rocks. As far as I'm concerned, it's the best game I've played this year. It made my fingers hurt. My guess is that the die-hard sports game people (you know who you are) might actually get a kick out of it. It's a lot like hockey, only people die.