Sinistar lives--in 3D-hardware-required glory! THQ's gorgeous Sinistar Unleashed is shaping up to be one of the most stunning space shooters ever put to a PC. Your retinas will collapse under the brilliance of these lighting effects that range from a blazing sun and incoming fireballs to the sweeping green energy of the Sinistar! Want piercing stereo sound? You got it--you can pinpoint your enemies' positions by the signature roar of their engines. Only Sinistar's "I live" taunt was in this preview disc, but hopefully THQ will add more verbal debauchery before the final game is shipped.
Sinistars fluid controls take full advantage of a flight stick, utilizing the rudder, throttle, and even the hat-button for strafing. You'll spin and dive while mining asteroids for crystals to arm yourself with the all-important sinibombs. Plus, Unleashed adds some twists to the basic Sinistar formula, enabling you to spend your crystals on shields or weaponry. The preview was a polished sample of an incomplete game, but the bottom line is: Sinistar lives, mortal--and hes coming to crush you!
Download Sinistar Unleashed
The Distilled Evil along with their slaves, The Sporg, are creating the ultimate biomechanical weapon: the Sinistar. If successful, the Sinistar will wreak havoc on the universe as we know it. It’s up to you, brave fighter, to put a stop to this before it starts. Fight waves of workers and fighters, mine Sinisite crystals to aid in your quest, and use the enemy’s jump gate to move a little closer to the center of the Sinistar universe and put an end to the Distilled Evil’s plans of conquest.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
Sinistar Unleashed appears to be more of a sequel than a remake of the classic 1982 coin operated game, Sinistar. Both this version and the original have the same basic concept and goal: fly around destroying workers and fighters, mine crystals, and hope you have enough when the Sinistar is ready to come after you. That’s where the similarities end. Sinistar Unleashed has much more complicated gameplay than the original. This game is played in a fully 3D rendered environment in outer space -- your ship can pitch, roll, and yaw and also has a clutch function that allows you to continue moving in a direction while you freely rotate your ship. The clutch is quite useful when battling enemies that on your tail. The control itself is handled really well and is very responsive. This is one game for which you will really want to have a good 3D joystick. Your ship comes equipped with a mining laser that can be used for both fighting enemies and mining Sinisite crystals. It is also Sinibomb ready -- just add crystals. Obtaining crystals by mining certain types of asteroids is extremely important. Sinisite crystals are more or less your lifeline -- quite literally in one sense as they will help repair your ship if you have enough to spare. They also allow you to use certain weapons once you have obtained them. There are eight other weapons total which all have different ranges and effects. The only one that is capable of damaging the Sinistar, however, is the Sinibomb so be sure you have a lot of crystals to launch these when Sinistar comes through the jump gate otherwise you’ll find yourself in quite a bind. In addition to the extra weapons, you also have special items, such as speed boosters, cloaking, shields, and stationary turrets (among others) that can help you out. Again, destroying certain types of asteroids or transport ships will reward you with new weapons or items. There are other features in the game that aren’t necessary to play, but can be helpful, such as being able to change your viewpoint, targeting, and zooming in and out with your radar. Each item and weapon shows up as an icon on screen. I found these icons to be somewhat annoying as they are small and sometimes difficult to differentiate. Fortunately, when an icon is selected on the screen, it shows the name too.
There are 24 levels total including five bonus levels. The regular levels consist of you, lots of enemies, asteroids, the jump gate, and eventually the Sinistar. You can collect crystals, items, and weapons to get ready for the conflict. You can also use Sinibombs to bomb the jump gate and slow the progress of Sinistar arriving. After every third regular level is a bonus level.
The interface is a little odd. You start a new game with a certain number of lives. When you die, it takes you back out to the menu and asks you to save the game. You can then restart the level if you like, minus one life though. Likewise, you can also quit at any time and resume later. I found the way these "features" are handled to be a bit confusing, but nothing that can’t be overcome.
Here’s where the game gets some extra bonus points from this reviewer. The system I reviewed the game on technically does not meet the system requirements. After updating the drivers for my Voodoo 1 card, it ran beautifully. The movies were a little choppy, but what do you expect when you don’t meet the requirements? Well, certainly not good game performance like I got. Kudos to THQ on this one.
This game REQUIRES 3D acceleration and states this in nice big letters on the front of the box. Heed this warning, otherwise the game won’t work. The graphics within the game are beautiful. Okay, so how can the black of space be beautiful? There is enough lighting around to see the glow of the jump game, the workers, fighters, asteroids, etc. Each item is rendered very nicely as well as the effects from glowing items, explosions, the crystals fluttering around. Sinistar as well as all the fighters and workers are much more monstrous and menacing looking than in the original game.
"I am Sinistar!" Some of you may remember this line from the original. It’s still there as well as some of the others and new ones. Sinistar’s voice is still just as menacing as it ever was. The sounds within the game are done well, but nothing appears to be utterly groundbreaking here.
Windows 95/98 and 100% compatible computer, Pentium II 233 MHz, Sound Blaster 16 compatible sound card, Direct3D or 3dfx Glide compatible 3D hardware accelerator card, 32M RAM, 4X CD drive, and a mouse.
Recommended: Pentium II 300MHz, AGP 3D hardware accelerator card, four-button joystick (with rudder control and throttle), PCI EAX or A3D compatible sound card, 12X CD-ROM, and 64MB RAM.
Supports: Force Feedback
Note: The bottom of the box also shows a useful table of 3D hardware accelerator chipsets and examples of 3D cards that use these chips. Make sure you have a card with one of these chips before trying to play this game.
Reviewed on: Pentium 233MMX, Orchid Righteous 3D (with 3Dfx Voodoo Chipset), Diamond Stealth 3D 2000, 64MB SDRAM, and a Sidewinder 3D Pro Joystick
The documentation seems to be a bit thick for this style of game. There is a lot of good information in the manual that will make playing the game easier. Be sure to read the manual at some point otherwise you may miss some key things in the game or be confused about some items that could otherwise be helpful.
Most remakes of classic arcade games tend to appeal only to those who love that genre. I would classify this game as an exception to the rule. This is an overall fun game that will likely appeal to many people who don’t necessarily like classic games. This game is a pure action 3D shoot-em-up and it is relatively simple to get the initial feel of the game, but it is complicated enough to keep even the best players entertained for a while, which is why I give Sinistar Unleashed as score of 87.