Review by: Jason Purdy
Published: January 6, 1999
This is one of those questions that I know is going to make me feel old, but does anyone out there remember Ikari Warriors? That absolutely fantastic game that we pumped oh so many quarters into in the late 80s? For those who missed out on this particular chestnut, it was one of very first (if not the very first) top-down shoot-em-ups. Two Rambo clones walked endlessly up the screen firing machine guns that never ran out of ammo, tossing grenades along the way. Every once in a while, if you got lucky, you’d be able to hop in a tank and cause some serious havoc, until you ran out of gas. Sound simplistic? Well, today it would be, but back then it was the hottest stuff out there.
If nothing else, Apocalypse can be taken as an indication of how far we’ve come. This is the quintessential shoot-em-up for the Playstation. There are no doubts about it. Nothing else even comes close. It has scrapped the tried-and-true top-down perspective in favor of a 3D isometric viewpoint, and added in a very impressive list of features, such as its awesome, easy to learn control system; beautiful graphics; tons of bright, shiny weapons; and a soundtrack that gets your blood pumping better than any game in recent (or distant, for that matter) memory. Furthermore, it has a plot that goes far above and beyond the usual justification for mass xenocide found in typical games of this genre.
You are Kincaid, a pistol-packing nanophysicist in a dark future where science is anything but a safe profession. The battle lines have been drawn between the spheres of science and religion, and the cold war that had been festering since the dark ages has erupted. A false prophet who calls himself the “Reverend” heads up the theological camp, backed up by millions of followers who tune in to watch him every Sunday morning on their local PBS channels to send them the contents of their children’s college funds. The President of this grim U.S. is a mere figurehead who was elected into power solely due to his close personal friendship with the Reverend. One kind word from this religious leader sent the vast majority of voters rushing to his side, and his victory was assured. Once in power, the President did whatever the Reverend told him to do, and the very first law that was passed outlawed the study or research of all scientific schools. The country was being called back to a simpler time, with simpler values — this of course being a more easily controlled America.
All of this occurred immediately after Kincaid had a major breakthrough in the field of nanotechnology, which would have made the promising new field commercially viable and available to the masses. His lab was raided and he was placed under arrest by the Great American Theocracy. He was henceforth sentenced to death and was thrown in a cell to await his fate. Meanwhile, the Reverend was using the designs he had had seized from Kincaid’s lab to give life to his dream. The Reverend believed that the Apocalypse was coming, and that he was going to be its father. To further this goal, he crafted his own Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, which he planned to set free on the unsuspecting world, ending all life as we know it. Kincaid’s nanotech was the final key needed to unlock his dream, and now that all of the pieces have fallen into place, it will only be a matter of time before the entire world falls into his hands, and soon after, into ruin.
That is, of course, assuming that Kincaid can’t stop him. Personally, my money is on the good guys, because Kincaid is being played by none other than Bruce Willis, and I don’t know of any other Hollywood hero I would feel more confident giving control over the fate of the world. Apocalypse is just chock full of star power, with Bruce Willis as the protagonist, tossing off witty one liners all the time, and goth-rock queen Poe playing as one of the Four Horsemen. She even recorded a video just for the game, which is currently being played on MTV.