Genre: First-Person Shooter
Like Descent, Forsaken pits players in 360 degree 3D world where exploration is emphasized; up, down, and all around. Although the N64 version of the game doesn't succeed very well in telling a story, Forsaken actually does have a simple plot: A science accident in the year 2113 sends a devastating shockwave throughout the solar system, ripping Earth in half and killing all life. The solar system is considered "condemned" (Condemned was actually the original working title for Forsaken) by the rest of the universe. Only bounty-hunters and glory-seekers dare enter it, and only the bravest souls return to Earth to do battle with robot drones and one-another in search of lost treasures.
What this story conveniently sets up is a world where things don't quite look real, installations governed by computer-controlled drones and, of course, non-stop shooting action.
Forsaken's gameplay offers a good mixture of action and exploration. Imagine it like a Descent meets Quake. Players navigate their craft through tunnels and hallways, destroying enemies, triggering switches, opening doors and fulfilling certain mission objectives -- both above and underwater. For example, one level has you protect a drone on rails, help it traverse the stage and keep it from being destroyed. Another requires you to set a detonator or take out a giant boss vehicle. Others just require you to find and kill all enemies -- unfortunately, that's where the game can get a little repetitive. Since Forsaken completely lacks any radar or map screens, finding that last annoying drone can take quite a while. Sure, even with radar screens, orientation in full-3D games can be a problem, but at least a pointer into the right direction would have helped. Luckily, the levels are not all that large, but a radar would still have added to the gameplay, both in single and multiplayer modes.
The configurable controls work surprisingly well in the N64 version. Fly backwards and forwards with A and B, turn with the analog stick, strafe into all directions with the C-Buttons, fire missiles and mines with R, and shoot with Z. Like in most first-person shooters, you switch weapons with the D-Pad (better develop that nimble N64 thumb).
All in all, Forsaken's one-player game is an impressive, pulse-pounding example of what a developer can achieve by mixing new technology with an old idea. Unfortunately, like the lack of a radar screen, there are a few oversights that keep the game from greatness. For example, although some missiles do lock on to their targets, it would have been nice to have visual cues for the lock-ons. There is just nothing cooler than hearing a "blip" and seeing a cursor locking on to a target before blasting them away. This would have also helped separating enemies from environments and weapons powerups (of which there are plenty) -- since everything is held in similar colors, it's often though to tell who's who and what is what.
25 Destructive weapons, including:
- Pulsar: Standard weapon
- Transpulse Cannon: Fires Pulsar in
- horizontal wave pattern -- covering more field
- Pyrolite Rifle: High tech incendiary device,
shooting plasma gas and petrol gel
- Beam Laser: Three separate pulses which
fuse into a single beam
- Trojax Weapon: Rain gun barrels which,
upon activation, shoot two plasma spheres
- Suss-gun: Shoots "Smart" tipped projectiles
- MUG Missile: Rockets that are fast with a
- Assassin: Targeted missiles
- Scatter Missile: Deprives enemies of their
- Gravgon Missile: Distorts gravity, drawing
any free-floating matter to the point of the
- Spider Mine: Bouncing mines
- Pine Mine: A spherical missile launcher
- Eight playable characters, including: Beard, Lokasenna, Foetoid, Nim Soo Sin, L.A. Jay, Clark Culver, Earl Slick and Rex Hardy -- each with their own unique strengths and weaknesses.
- Powerful polygonal 3D engine
- Four-player multiplayer mode (split-screen) with almost no slowdown
- Real-time light-sourcing
- A plethora of varying levels
- An "hidden" Battle Mode
Wheeeee, this game is fast. Iguana UK, the company that ported the Probe game, has done an awesome job keeping up a high framerate while dazzling the eye with multi-colored real-time lighting effects. Like Turok and NFL Quarterback Club '98, Forsaken again sets new standards of what is technically possible on the N64. Iguana UK manages to squeeze real-time lighting effects out of the SGI innards that cast eerie halos and multi-colored glows around both friendly and enemy fire. For example, if you shoot a torpedo down a dark hallway, the projectile will illuminate the way and bathe the walls with colored light. Sweet. Forsaken's fisheye graphics range from trippy to plain plain cool (although there are a couple nasty textures here and there), whirl you around and move at such fast speeds, you will definitely want to have some Dramamine handy. The only downfall are the simplistic, flat looking ships and enemy drones, the so-so explosions, and the bare look of the worlds. The low detail of the environments must have been imperative to keep things running quickly. Even the four-player mode, which sports all the lighting and graphics effects still runs smoothly most of the time. No matter what you
The surround weapons effects are great and never fail to wake up my neighbors when the Forsaken urge grabs me late at night (heheheheh). Sadly, the techno tunes in the game are boring, lack any stereo separation whatsoever and get annoying very quickly. Although there is an option to change tunes in mid-game, you might just want to turn it down a bit and concentrate on the effects. The occasionaly voice narration is definitely on the hokey side, though...
If you primarily play against friends (or enemies), Forsaken is a must-have game. Offering extremely playable split-screen death-matches for up to four players, Forsaken blasts the competition with optional computer-bots and two different modes, Max Frags and Last Man. The nasty little mines and scatter missiles make for hours of fun, especially with four players (or two players, two bots). Good job, Acclaim.
You can adjust volumes, the number of lives, and customize your controls. An optional third-person view and smaller crosshairs are also available in the single player mode. I'm not sure why, but the cool auto-align/off function of the PC version was taken out (or is hidden as a code). The game automatically saves to a memory pak every four missions or so. Rumble Pak supported.
If you enjoyed Descent then you're going to love Forsaken -- it's really that simple. Although it might get boring after a while, the game is interesting enough in the single player mode. But plug in a few more controllers and you get one of the most gripping shooters of the year. Rarely is there such a good combination between technology and action-packed gameplay.