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Graphics: In a strange twist, the graphics are not as appealing as the original. Perhaps this has to do with leaps in other graphic engines, but the game has almost no optic enticements. The textures are bland and washed out, and the suffocating fog effect returns with a vengeance. I spent much of the game squinting into a gray veil hung between me and any sense of immersion. When the fog is turned off, the graphics dissolve at close range, even within a small room, something that is inexcusable given the visual depth of other games. The special effects from the original have been replaced with listless explosions and other mediocre animations, meaning there are no moments of psychedelic delight as the screen explodes in colors and eye-wash. The model animation is smooth and credible, but the creatures are too angular and have a bad habit of splitting apart at the seams when they get up close — you can literally see through limbs and gaping mouths. Most disappointing, though, is the amount of sprites the designers use. The game is crammed with them, though the engine has trouble rendering them and they pop in and out at will. I do want to compliment the colored lighting, which generates some dazzling moments as various weapons are muscled around, and the water model, which is best described as “shimmering.”
Interface: Although the interface is not as robust as other 3D action games, it is functional. The problem is in the core arrangement. A setup module loads when the game is launched and an in-game menu is available once started. The problem comes when changing options; certain things, such as graphics, can only be changed in the setup section, so to change resolutions, gamers much exit the game and restart. The mouse-keyboard control setup is also inapt and required several attempts before I nailed my standard configuration. In the game, things are more amicable, and although it requires some toiling, the controls can be set up to match personal preferences. I must also compliment the integration of GameSpy. Although the implementation is not as polished as a native connection protocol, which most games contain, it means locating and launching a deathmatch game is simple.
Gameplay: For all the grumbling I have done about the comatose movement, ho-hum maps and disappointing graphics, the biggest shortcoming is the complete absence of innovation. There is nothing here that has not been done a dozen times preceding. In addition, the gameplay is thin, and although the maps are crammed with switches to activate, items to locate, and simple quests to complete, it boils down to little more than plodding one place to the next. There is no sense of adventure; rather this is rinse, lather, repeat gameplay. Grab a weapon, shoot a creature, throw a switch, locate the “means of access” to the next area, get up, get down, turn around, do it all over again. Had the combat been exciting, this might have been excused, but it is tame; a decent arsenal is wasted on a feeble bestiary. Deathmatch is also derivative, though it does submit an engaging twist — gamers can slaughter opponents as humans or creatures. There is nothing quite as gruesomely indulgent as ripping an opponent into crimson shreds with sharp talons, though, once again, the sluggish and imprecise movement means deathmatch has even less appeal than the solo game.
Sound FX: The sound labors to create something that does not exist — a game teeming with action and motion. Guns discharge and people scream in the distance, though there is never anything around the corner but another Dinosoid watchman. Enemies bellow and thunder, but die in seconds. The weapons do contain aural punch, and overall the sounds are solid. The designers missed out on voicing the hero, though, who is silent through much of the game. He screams in pain, grunts, and trumpets an occasional success, but that is all.
Musical Score: Although the designers seem to have stripped our hero of his Native American heritage, the music pulses with drums and ancient tempos, and is engaging until it becomes repetitive due to the huge maps. The electro-acoustic ethnic blend is a nice artistic touch, though, and it compliments the action well.
Intelligence & Difficulty: First allow me to delineate the positive: The AI is better than average. For starters, the creatures are persistent and demonstrate good geographic understanding. In one scene, a Dinosoid emerged from a door, circled a building I was in, trounced up the stairs, entered the room and launched its assault. Nice! In addition, some enemies have protective moves, such as crouching behind crates, though these are rendered useless because the guns shoot right through crates, even the metal ones. Outrunning the enemies is not possible, either, because they are as persistent as they are hideous. It is too bad, then, that even on the hardest setting the enemies give up the ghost all to easily. When I played cops and robbers as a child I would scream, “Bang! Bang! You’re dead!” That is all these creatures need to segue into a comically absurd death sequence. Above all else, they delight in the spotlight.
Overall: This is, without a doubt, an absolute disappointment. I had hoped the graphics would be enhanced, but they slump prostrate to competing games; I wanted the game to submit something unique, but it is derivative and tedious; and as opposed to presenting a challenge, the enemies crumble with ease. Add sluggish movement and controls, and this game was extinct ages ago.
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