Hmm... press space, it says. Press space? Why? Why in Cliff Mitchelmore's name do I have to CPress Space' when I've already done it three times? Sweet merciful heavens, I really hate console presentation methods. Be warned. Ocean, if I see the words Press Button A" anywhere at all in this game I'm going to close down this review and start playing something else instead. Probably Quake. Or then maybe cutesy Creatures...
Sorry, but it's a legitimate point. I've nothing against conversions per se, but I do take exception when the people responsible don't really bother to cater for the differing needs of each machine's respective audiences. Tunnel B1 comes to us from the PlayStation and Saturn where it's a fairly nice, if somewhat bland, game. The premise is that in the overly technological Earth of the future, mankind has seen the arms race escalate to the point where one mad dictator has developed the ultimate weapon. Enter you and your nippy little hovery-car in a last-ditch attempt to stop him using it. This involves racing through various underground tunnels, shooting everything in sight - and, of course, not dying in the process. On paper it sounds a lot like Descent -ultra-smooth 3D, flying through tunnels shooting the enemy, etc. In practice, it plays more like Wipeout or Hi-Octane (but without the sporting aspects). And it's in trying to be as faithfill to the console original, rather than updating itself for the new requirements of the pc world, that it loses out. On the PlayStation Tunnel B1 is a little gem of a game. On the pc it's somewhat unremarkable.
Why's that, then?
Well, for a start, there are no cockpit or external viewpoints. Instead you're just presented with the track and no point of reference. There's nothing to help you determine where the sides of your craft are, with the result that it's incredibly difficult, if not out of the question, to judge collision distances accurately. There are no crosshair or aiming cues to let you know what your guns are pointing at, meaning that accurate gunplay is an impossibility.
Tlte only time you can save games is between levels, meaning that each time you die you are thrown right back to the start. Tres annoying - especially when you've got right to the end of a bastardly hard level and then find that you have to do it all over again.
But even worse are the controls. After cycling through all the on-screen options and leafing through the manual my worst suspicions were confirmed: you're given a pre-set keyboard configuration, with two rigidly defined alternatives: no user-definable keys, no mouse or I joystick control and no Descent-style combinations. As a result, the keyboard controls fall victim to that most modern of keyboard I diseases - Windows Key Interruptus (that's the one between ctrl and ALT on Windows 95 keyboards whose only function in life seems to be to prematurely throw you out of networked Quake matches at vital moments). You will be able to use a joystick on the Windows 95 only version due out in a couple of months' time which will improve the situation somewhat, but you could at least be given the option to re-define the keys in the dos version.
Aside from all that, it looks lovely. The texture-mapping and light-sourcing are second to none. You even get a very realistic-looking lens flare when you look at points of light. And the surprising thing is that it all moves along very smoothly... at least it does in the lower resolutions. If you flick to 640x480 svga mode then you do start to suffer front Frameicus Updateitus (Excuse me Paul, but have you just swallowed a fake medical dictionary or something? - Ed.), even on a super swifty P120. But otherwise it looks great. The objects are highly detailed and the explosions are very satisfying.
Sonically everything is top notch, right down to the cd audio musical tracks that accompany the action. It's just that there's not really all that much cake underneath the pretty icing. Basically, Tunnel B1 epitomises the very essence of so many PlayStation games - fantastic presentation married to simplistic gameplay giving birth to little long-term appeal. Descent 2 is a far better tunnelbased action game. Wipeout 2037 is a far better hovery-racing game and there are soon going to be more Cnovelty' first-person driving games than you can shake a stick at. For all its gloss Tunnel B1 just doesn't have enough depth to keep you at it into the wee hours.
A little tip...
Okay, so perhaps I'm being a little snobbish with regards to Tunnel BTs provenance. There's nothing wrong with PlayStation games per se (some of my best friends are PlayStation games), but when you consider how much more a PC is capable of offering in terms of depth of playability and variety of challenge (I'm starting to sound like Rhodes Boyson -stop it, Presley), then you can't help but feel short-changed. Descent is capable of matching Tunnel BTs speedy action thrills and manages to create a far more believable Cworld' at the same time. Okay, so the graphics are nicer, but who cares? Who really cares? When you're careering around a bend at 200mph are you really thinking, Gosh those lens flares are pretty and look at that wall texture! Mavis, where's my camera? Or are you thinking, Die you motherf @%&#ing hovery-helicopter type thing and take those @!&%#ing mortar guns straight back to the fire-encrusted hellpit from where you were born!
So what's my advice? Well, the industry rumour mill has it that with Nintendo's great mother of a console beast about to arrive on these shores with all the subtlety and finesse of a two-ton elephant trying to tap dance, Sony are getting set to drop the price of the PlayStation to little more than $100. A hundred nicker. Four ponies or a fifth of a monkey. And no doubt the prices of the games will drop too (Fat chance - Ed.), so wait on a few months. To play most of the PlayStation games on the PC, you usually need to invest in various bits of hardware anyway (3D accelerator cards, joypads, etc), so save your money until the prices drop and then feast yourself on the great banquet of shallow foodstuffs that make up the PlayStation games market. And leave the real three-course meals to your good old PC. You know it makes sense.
Download Tunnel B1
Riding on the wave of exciting action titles like Descent and WipeOut XL comes Acclaim's newest project, Tunnel B1, coming out soon for the PlayStation, and later for the Saturn.
Tunnel B1 is one of the most visually stimulating games to come out for a 32-Bit system. The graphics can be best described as a dark and moody hybrid of the two aforementioned titles.
Picture racing a very highspeed vehicle down ultrasmooth roads and tunnels. The texture mapping is clean and the dark shading works well here. The attention paid to details is simply marvelous, from a flare's lighting to the opening of the Map Screen.
What good is high speed without fast animation? Well, Tunnel B1 serves up plenty of that. Again, this is where comparison comes up between this game and WipeOut XL. The smooth frame rate runs at blazing speeds without a hitch. So much so, that the game comes close to giving you that same disorienting vertigo feel that Descent served up so well. Finally, the superb lighting effects and flashy explosions add to an already great visual package.
But we have all seen pretty games that were an absolute bore in terms of gameplay. Our early demo shows that Tunnel B1 will have no trouble avoiding this trap. Besides racing around and blasting enemies, you'll have to find your way out of difficult predicaments in order to finish the missions. At first, the objectives are pretty simple. Destroy an enemy and/or collect certain items in a level. After these initial "practice" rounds, the game becomes much more interesting.
On one of the later levels, for example, your mission becomes a pure race to the finish. You will have to run through obstacle-strewn tunnels and reach checkpoints in an allotted amount of time.
If you can't make it. you won't only lose, you'll die, as the tunnels get blown up. To add to your plight enemy crafts will race ahead of you, just to drop a few mines in your path.
The variety in missions helps let Tunnel Bl stand above the masses of mindless shoot-'em-ups on the market. The shoot-'em-up factor of Tunnel B1 is, however, worth mentioning. The explosions and weapon effects are almost worth the price of admission alone. Your enemies will range from incompetent to downright tough (see sidebar).
So why are you running around and destroying things in the first place? As if you need a reason, Acclaim has given us a story line. Basically, the Earth has become a dark and cold world that has no purpose or hope. One ruthless despot has decided to create a weapon so powerful, that it cannot be ignored. Now it's up to you. Your B1 craft is armed and ready. Destroy all who gets in your way on your drive to rid this world of evil. The story line is nothing spectacular, but then again, not many games' story lines are.
From our early peek, Acclaim has found a winner with Tunnel B1. This game looks simply spectacular and is a must-see for anyone with two eyes. You can expect this game to be a landmark title in the action arena.
- MANUFACTURER - Acclaim
- THEME - Driving
- NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1
Here's a sleeper. Tunnel B1 is a very cool game in many aspects. The graphics, first and foremost, are some of the most impressive I've seen on the PlayStation ever. The lighting effects are simply outstanding. The gameplay seems a little repetitious at first but later levels have you doing plenty of different things. The enemies look cool but I wish there were more (some are different but look similar because of color schemes). I also wish that the camera angle wasn't so low to the ground. I almost feel like I'm constantly leaning back as I play. If you want a fast-paced action/racing game, I'd go for Tunnel B1.
I'll pee in my pants if games can get better looking than Tunnel B1. The light sourcing, texture mapping and animation are unparalleled on the PlayStation. And guess what? The game is fun too! Talk about a rare combination nowadays. Tunnel B1 defines a next-generation action game like WipeOut defines a next-gen racing game. Beyond just shooting everything in sight. Tunnel B1 offers some beat-the-dock action as well. The enemies are a good challenge too-the same units don't necessarily attack the same. The only faults lie with the low viewing angle, lack of weapon variety and hard-to-get-used-to controls.
Don't let this game's first few levels fool you-there's more to TB1 than just a mindless, high-speed ride through twisting tunnels. The early part of the game is, in a sense, training you for the later levels, which have you racing against the clock to escape self-destructing mazes and collecting various items. An automap feature even helps you make sense of the sometimes confusing tunnels. TBI's graphics-partic-ularly the lighting effects-are phenomenal, making comparisons to WipeOut XL inevitable. I only wish the perspective wasn't tilted upward so much; the laid-back view takes a little getting used to.
Tunnel B-1 is a great look at what to expect from future titles, in that its graphics surpass any first game to date. The light-sourcing alone is breathtaking! As for perspective, I didn't like the low-to-the-ground look. This is a common mistake of most first-person games, but it never gets fixed. You could call it Tunnel Ant-1.1 also wasn't pleased that you can't aim up or down, and that is a serious gameplay flaw that should be fixed in the sequel. If Hsu hadn't pointed out that mines blast upward, I'd still be trying to blast one of those frustrating helicopters hovering two inches from my guns, but still out of reach!
This unique little game crept under the door one day and surprised us all. It's a dark and stylish corridor vehicle shooter where you glide down ominous alleys, blasting away gun turrets, road blocks, and other obstacles. There are also mission objectives to fulfill and weapon power-ups to gather. Excellent light-sourcing highlights this game, as corridors light up when explosions occur. Now if they could just tune up the gameplay, which borders on dull, this could be a hot sleeper title.
Ocean has been teasing us with this hot-looking PlayStation game for some time, but the good news is that it will also be appearing on Saturn.The PlayStation version of the game will actually be released by Sony, which wants to take control of the so-called second generation products.
That's'as big a compliment as a game could hope for, though, and it certainly fits this fast-action racing sim. It's set in a future world, filled with decay and violence, not entirely unlike Wipeout, in fact.The similarity to Wipeout ends there, though, since this is about twice as smooth as Psygnosis' amazing racer.
Graphics and speed are what make this stand out from the crowd, as you pilot your super-fast craft through tunnels (in full 3D) trying to avoid enemy fire as well as the more conventional racing-style objects. Tunnel may not be a catchy name, but the game is going to be awesome.