Review by fekkot

"Good idea, bad execution, worse characters."

Eswat was one of Sega's many overlooked creations from 1990.

You play an inglorious cop (named ''You'' according to the box) in the Enhanced Special Weapons and Tactics (ESWAT) force. As a new addition to the force, ''You'' are (or am I supposed to say ''is''?) a rookie trying to become the apex of the ESWAT force. What better way than to try to bust the Evil E.Y.E.- the most feared group of terrorists in the world?

The gameplay starts you off as a captain, then a chief, armed only with a standard gun. So it's basically just walk, jump and shoot for the first couple of stages. After that, you get to a rank so high that they give you a super suit. After that you get quite a few more techniques; you have a rocket booster boots that lets you fly or glide for a few seconds, then it has to power up. You can also accumulate special weapons from certain adversaries; a ground cruising missile, a rapid-firing super laser, the Fire, which hits everything on the screen then disappears, and my personal favorite, the particle cannon, a Mega-buster style power up laser. Sound cool? Well it won't for long..........

OVERVIEW I

GAMEPLAY: 7

As I've said, the game starts off very simplistic- almost like one of those first 1985 action games or something (Super Mario Brothers, Rastan, etcetera). It's quite realistic at first too; the protagonist can't jump like Mario, but instead he does realistic jumps like the guy from Flashback. Albeit Mr. ESWAT can still turn around three times in the middle of a jump. For some reason, he can shoot straight up, but not down, no diagonal directions either. The bullets move a bit slow, though, almost as slow as he walks- when YOU'RE shooting them anyway. Overall the control is near-perfect until you get to the third level.

Then they put you in that goofy cyber suit for the rest of the game. While it's cool that you can hold the booster and all five weapons at once and switch with a simple push of a button, Rocket boosting is quite laborious to navigate, since in the one place that he DOESN'T need to move a lot faster, guess what happens! It also takes an amazingly long time to do something as uniform as turning around- and quite a few enemies seem to knowingly take advantage of the bad control!

GRAPHICS: 5+

The backgrounds are pretty good at first. On the first stage, you can see a quite or so buildings with nice lighting detail, but the background of the same few buildings repeats too much, and there's not that much detail (color) in them. Things get much worse on the later levels, with very little variety and detail in the backgrounds. The third level is the worst of them, because the background consists of a big red block that just has a bunch of changes in the shape, yet Sega dares to call it a ''city''. It looks like something a five-year-old would draw. Don't expect anything real vivid on this game at all. But I like the dark feel of the game in general.

The vast majority of characters are pretty shallow. The protagonist resembles a member of a bubblegum boy band, only in a police shirt (the rest of his clothes are normal- just brown pants and black boots), until he gets the suit- then he's in his own class of looking ridiculous. the enemies are mostly just extremely bland, faceless soldiers running at you with firearms and tiny spider-like robots with big red dots in the center of them. My biggest lament about the graphics is how ludicrously minute the preponderance of characters are. It isn't suitable at all for this type of game.

SOUND: 4

You don't hear many. The only consistent sound is the sound of gunshots that go ''pgghhoo''- it doesn't sound that good. There are a few more sound like when walls close in and when the particle cannon is fired, but they just aren't enough- not that I'm wishing for anymore since I've heard how lame the others are. But still, I would have at least wanted to hear sounds when you get hit and when something explodes.

MUSIC: 5

I've heard better music from non-Mega Man Nintendo games! The music just consists of some very cheap techno. The keyboards often twang too much as if it were played on a country singer's guitar rather than keyboards! The result is a very stupid sound- especially on the boss music! On most of the levels, the music starts off lively for the first five or so seconds, then fades into the background for the rest of the level until you fight a boss.

DESIGN: 6

Once again, it tries too hard to be the best and ends up in ruin. Yes, all of the levels have completely distinct environments, ranging from rooftops to a jail to a laboratory, and yes, the slime level requires you to do things very quickly in sometimes puzzle-style endeavors, and true, the very innovative jail level requires you to get to the top then enter the see-through cells and go back to the bottom, but you'll quickly realize that the end result is always the same; slowly walk forward, and carefully blast everybody. No matter how much the surroundings may change, the gameplay never really changes, except for on the third level. Speaking of the third level, I really don't think that the ''basic cop'' premise at the start of the game was explored enough. There are only two levels where things are normal.

I've already said that most of the enemies are too small and too bland, but there are a few interesting ones like the prisoners on the second level that swing the ball-and-chains tied to their legs at you (although that would just yank their feet off in real life). But I just don't like the way the game switches from fighting soldiers and a helicopter as a boss to fighting slime monsters and a triad of snake robots as bosses. It's a very cool idea, but Sega just didn't get it off of the ground.

CHALLENGE: 7+/COOLNESS IN CHALLENGE: 6

There are three levels of difficulty that just give and take a few hits on you and the enemies. You get three continues and 1, 3 or 5 lives depending on your choice. Your health bar consists of three to five hit points. Everything takes away the same amount of health except for the cliffs of course. The 6 suit levels are harder than the 2 normal ones.

Since your character is waaaaayyyyyy too slow to actually dodge something, you just watch the patterns of the enemies and walk past or shoot their attacks. That can be annoying because some of the levels have a LOT of enemies on them, and you might just lose your patience and start rushing- which never works. That takes a huge element of strategy out of the game, since most of it is just about positioning your character correctly. The slime level and the bosses are the only things that really have depth.

REPLAY VALUE: 3+

There are absolutely no secrets in this game- not even for health icons or extra lives! And by the time you finish this (which should be three to five full tries), you'll probably remember almost everything on the game and it will be pretty easy to beat from there. You'd still might want to replay it every couple of years, though. This game really could've used more levels, more transformations, and a whole lot more depth.

OVERVIEW II

BADGES

*the ever-shifting setting of the game
*the simple and handy weapon selection
*cool bosses

SUSPENSIONS

*the gameplay is too based on positioning yourself right
*the small, bland characters
*boring and/or annoying audio
*The boosting control

KEY MOMENTS

The few boss battles.

SAY WHAT?

No one knows this game, no one reviewed this game, this game never made any news, no one really cared about this game, I didn't even know this game existed until a few weeks ago, this game is 2.99 at Funcoland, so I didn't say anything.

WORD TO THE WISE

Always switch off of a special weapon if you're about to lose a life, because you'll lose whatever weapon you're using at the time unless it's the standard gun.

OVERALL: 6

This isn't a bad game, but it's not that good either. I gave it an extra half of a point for trying. Sega's always been known for it's creativity throughout all the ages (After Burner, Comix Zone, Shenmue.....), but this is one of their games that remind us that innovation doesn't ALWAYS go right.

HOW DOES IT RATE IN THE SERIES?

Jewel Master is also a mid-1990 Sega game that's pretty similar in gameplay to this, but Jewel Master is better.


Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 11/25/00, Updated 11/25/00


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