One thing I have never been able to understand is: why is it that, in films, books and computer games, the future is always painted as a bleak, apocalyptic shadow of its former self. With an increasing number of peace treaties being signed and greater arms reduction measures already happening, shouldn't the year 2112 be full of people singing and dancing through beautiful meadows with flowers in their hair, completely starkers? Well, not if you're reading the scenario to Psygnosis' newie, Pyrotechnica.
Doom and gloom
In this 3D shoot 'em up, the future is a very nasty place indeedy. Working freelance for a huge multinational corporation with a stupid name, it's your job to rescue lots of captured pilots who are trapped on a big star. You control a space ship, and basically you have to manoeuvre around a 3D environment, blowing things up. Now that sounds original.
By using a quite minimal play area, which is decorated with some pretty lights, the game still manages to move at quite a pace without looking drab. However, if you're the cautious type like myself, you won't be aiming to break the speed barrier, instead you'll be going for that sneak-up-on-the-baddies-quietly-and-slowly-blow-them-to-bits strategy. Unfortunately, this is what you seem to have to do most of the way through the game, as if you reach any "exciting" speeds, not only is it a lot harder to blow anything up successfully, but bumping into anything results in you losing all control over your craft (and trying to regain control proves to be a worse nightmare even still). Not only that, but because of Pyrotech-nica's self- contained 3D environment, you can become extremely confused as to what direction you're heading in. There is a map to help you with this problem, but to activate it you have to use keys on the keyboard. No major problem, you may think, but you also have to press keys to activate all the different weapons, change the speed of your craft and so on. And in the middle of battle, trying to remember what does what, where they are and then actually hitting them, as well as skillfully dodging and firing at your enemies at the same time, requires manual dexterity not seen since the glorious 1988 final of The Krypton Factor. You'll then probably bump into something and lose your bearings completely, head off in the wrong direction and whack the keyboard in un-controllobale frustration. Well, I did.
A bit of a looker?
On the presentation front lyrotechnica scores quite highly at a first glance, but soon goes downhill as you realise that every level looks the same. It's suited to the polygon environment, and the graphics may be atmospheric, but they don't half get boring after a while.
The SFX and music are okay, but they too can get on your nerves after prolonged playing. Fortunately, there's the ability to adjust their volume, as well as the levels of difficulty. There's also the option of two different view points (one from within the cockpit and the other externally), but you'll only want to use one of them as, using the latter mode, the ship suddenly becomes as easy to control as a recently oiled shopping trolley. Having said this, the game is enjoyable, it's just that after a while it gets a bit boring.
So even though the presentation is above average, the lack of variety will mean that Pyrotechnica won't have a very long shelf life. If you're desperate for a 3D shoot 'em up, your best bet is probably to invest them in something a bit more involving like Descent instead.
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP