Review by: Scott Steinberg
Published: January 11, 2000
Monolith’s Shogo may have whet our appetites for giant robot-themed games, but thanks to a number of bugs and unrealized potential, it proved to be more of an appetizer than anything else. With few other tasty treats in sight following its release, Infogrames’ Slave Zero, which was revealed over a year ago, looked to be the main course we’d been waiting for all along. Hungry players could look forward to picking up a massive vehicle of destruction and taking revenge on an evil dictator bent on world domination, a dish that appeared to be best served cold. Now, after months in the icebox, Slave Zero has emerged to soothe our taste for destruction, but it prompted me to wonder–Did Infogrames attempt to bite off more than they could chew?
Before we consider this, it’s worth taking a look at what the game purports to be. Although it takes place from the third-person, behind-the-back perspective so popular in action-adventures these days, Slave Zero is a purely action-oriented title at heart. Disregard all of the mission objectives you’ll have to complete for the moment, because at the most fundamental level, the gameplay consists of little more than wandering through a city teeming with life, demolishing buildings, filling massive enemies with lead, and crushing everything that gets beneath your gigantic feet, including people, cars, and anything else within stomping distance. Make no bones about it, despite the PC origins of this title, it’s prime material for home consoles, at least from a design standpoint.
Once again in keeping with console trends, your “Slave” unit (as the robot is called) is armed to the teeth and ready to kick in some heads. More than a dozen weapons are at your disposal, ranging from railguns to shotgun-style affairs, energy beams, rocket launchers, and everything in between. These little toys have been grouped into three different categories, namely energy weapons, missile launchers, and projectile weapons, and unfortunately, you can only equip one of each type at any given time. It’s a bit strange that Infogrames wasn’t a bit more fancy when it came to the design of the weapons themselves, taken straight out of every other action game from the past decade, but they do attempt to make up for this failing by actually allowing shots to destroy bits of the environment on the fly.
Unsurprisingly, we’re looking at a mission-based structure that includes a sizable number of scenarios to play through in both indoor and outdoor settings. To be honest, there’s precious little interaction between the plot and the missions themselves, and you’re led on a fairly straight path to the conclusion. In a strange twist of fate, although you’re placed at the helm of a giant biomechanical robot and thrown into a wide-open environment, Infogrames hasn’t seen fit to let us stray from a given path. On the flip side, there is quite a bit for the aspiring robot jockey to do on his rise to stardom, as missions run the gamut from escort operations to boss encounters. Call Slave Zero’s layout what you will, it all boils down to an exercise in the Bee Gee’s favorite pastime–staying alive.