Review by Altima Arc Angel
"Hop in a Snake Tank and kill some Copters"
A unknown gem on the PSX, Steel Reign recently came to me by a strange amount of luck and digging around in the basement. I was skeptical at best when I popped it in. However, I was pleasantly surprised. The game itself seems to be a early ground-based version of the Helicopter game ''Black Dawn'', also for the PSX. What I mean by that is that it has similar control, camera angles, and the same whirling camera whenever you finish the (slightly similar) missions. However, this does not detract from the game, as you will see below:
Pretty damn grainy, if I do say so myself. The backgrounds are mostly minimal, and your tank and enemy's aren't much better off. The weapons show the basics, though the changes sometime are only a color shift. However, there is quite a bit of area to explore if you want to, and the varying environments kick it up a notch. All in all, this is one of the worst aspects of Steel Reign.
Mostly heavy metal tunes, with a few tweaks to sound slightly patriotic. The cutscenes(featuring a news reporter and her inept camera man) have good voice acting, though it doesn't help cover the B movie material. The explosions are simply there, and the weapon sounds are generic. However, the screams of death from the soldiers you sometimes fight are quite amusing in a sadistic sort of way. Popping in your favorite heavy metal group wouldn't hurt the atmosphere a bit.
Quite simple. You move your Snake Tank with the controller, you switch weapons with the Triangle button, you shoot with the O button, and you strafe/turn turret with the RI and R2 buttons. The other buttons serve usually meaningless tasks, that don't really involve gameplay at all. The only side note is that it is sometimes hard to move your Snake Tank out of the way of enemy fire. Also, sometimes facing quick enemy's (Like the Helicopters) can be a big pain.
Fast and furious. You begin by selecting a tank, that has the name of different snakes. You have your generic Fast But Low Armor Tank, your Slow But With Lots Of Endurance tank, and your Middle Of The Road Tank That Nobody Uses tank. They each have different names of snakes, which is why I call them Snake Tanks. Anyway, after you select a tank, you start on the first mission. You get a brief summary of what you're supposed to do(with a person reading it if you can't read), and you're off to go. Right away, you have enemies right in front of you. Moving along, you can easily find your objectives and accomplish them, most of the time. However, the game sometimes throws you a curveball and tosses you a hard level. Enemies swarm around you, health pickups are few and far between, and death is almost evident. Speaking of pickups, you can acquire many different weapons along the way. Some of the weapons range from Ion Cannons to Guided Missiles to a Laser weapon that fries enemies from the inside out. They aren't necessary in the beginning levels, but pretty soon you need to use them to destroy enemies that have incredible endurance. This is where it gets frustrating. You will often use up your entire arsenal on only one or two enemies. This results sometimes in a untimely demise, because they are still shooting at you whilst you try to select another weapon to fight with. This can become extremely irritating, because by then the more mobile enemies will come along and lay you to waste in no time flat while you're still trying to destroy the tougher but slower enemy at the same time. Also, when you die, that's it. You start back from Mission 1, unless you save beforehand. No Continues. No passwords. One life, and it's all over. This bumps the difficulty up considerably, since it's quite possible to have a evening's work reduced by one stray helicopter that got to you at the wrong moment. Be warned.
In conclusion, Steel Reign is probably one of the best vehicle combat games in this ilk (Black Dawn comes to mind here), but with a few tweaks it could've been better. You can now find this game dirt cheap, and if you like fast, furious, and deadly tank work with okay graphics and amusing cutscenes, this is the game for you.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 03/08/03, Updated 03/08/03
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