Heir of Zendor
Review by atmabahamut
"A great game that was one of the last on the Saturn"
When I saw there was only one review of this game, I was surprised. Heir of Zendor is one of the most unique and fun games I have played. It was released towards the end of the Saturn's lifespan, so many people have probably never heard of it. This review will give you a basic idea of what's in the game, etc. I am writing this review based on what games were like in 1996, and not on today's standards.
This is where the game is simply amazing. The story has it's flaws, but it is quite intriguing. You start the game simply, as a young Zendorian prince escorting a water convoy. What develops is very interactive and up to you. As you progress through the many missions, you have choices. Some are simple, like destroy a convoy, or move on. Others are more subtle, like how much water you were supposed to protect, gets destroyed. Depending on your actions and choices, your story changes. In one storyline, you might be seen as a hero and have allies fight with you, but in another storyline, you would be saw as a villain, and have those allies turn into enemies to fight. I would have liked the game to include a bit more detail on the origins battleships, but the plot does have it's sketchy moments. Like in some cases, it calls Terra Sanctum, a continent, while in the manual, it calls it a planet. It can be confusing to say the least. Even in game, there are conflicting things, but those are parts of the story, so I can't elaborate here. I gave this a ten because of the sheer number of options you have to change the story and interact with it.
The ingame graphics weren't exactly high tech, even for the 1996 standard, but they were a lot better than a lot of the stuff out there. Keep in mind, this was back when the Super Nintendo was still selling, and the PS1 had only just recently started selling. Most of the game takes place in battlefields that look like they were made using Mode 7 graphics. The other parts of the game are spent in the cutscenes where your characters are talking to one another or in the FMV's this game has to offer. The cutscene graphics are pretty boring. You have a radio console, and in a small screen, you see the image of the person talking to you. Nothing really special, since the image doesn't move. The game has voice acting, but more on that later. The ship design is pretty cool. The giant battleships look awesome the first time you see them. Some ships, such as the fighters, look generic, so it varies.
My jaw dropped seeing the FMV's in this game. The quality and effort put into them is astounding. I didn't see better FMV graphics until some of the middle era PS1 games. This being one of the last Saturn games, had the advantage that the programmers had learned to get the most out of the hardware. They are the best I have seen on the Saturn to say the least. I would recommend checking them out.
The music in this game is very wonderful and inspirational. During battles, the tune drives the urgency of your mission. In some cases, it is tragic and almost sounds like weeping, such as a cutscene that tells about the history of Terra Sanctum, and the five kings.. Most of the music has an eerie flow to it, a tranquil beauty. The plus side is, you can use the game CD as a music CD if you pop it into a normal CD player.
It's mostly a strategy/RPG. You position your ships around a battlefield using fuel points. Your fuel points determine how far you can go and steer on a single turn. Some ships are light, and can go almost to the maximum distance, but have almost no attack power and armor. Other ships, are practically dreadnoughts with their attack and defense, but have no ability to move almost. That is where the strategy of formations comes in. You can place your ships into a formation and depending on the type you choose, the stats of your ships change. Some formations offer great attack power and mobility, while others give your vessels a greater defense power, or even more mobility. When in formation, a ship doesn't use it's normal fuel to move, it only uses it's fuel to turn and face enemies, etc. The lead ship's fuel is what you use to maneuver the formation. Weapons have a strategy to them as well. You start out with weak weapons, but the more you fight and use them, the stronger they become. As you progress through the various missions, you gain new weapons, depending on your choices. These add variety to the game. Weapons have several factors to calculate. The biggest factor is Angle, depending on your weapons firing angle, you might be able to shoot at ships to the direct left or right of your ship, while other weapons can only hit ships in front of them. It's always a factor to consider. As you destroy more enemy vessels, your ships gain experience points, and build experience levels. Stats such as armor and attack change, while the fuel stat seems to remain constant.
Replay value 10/10
This game has multiple endings, depending on how you play. That gives this game almost endless amounts of replay value once you consider all you can customize. You can have different ships, different weapons, different storylines, and no two times you play have to be the same. It all varies depending on your choices in the game. There are so many ways to play it's amazing. You get a lot of play time for the cost of the game. Oh, and there is a newgame+ feature of sorts. You get to start with the ships you had in the last game, fully powered. As you go, you rack up a % meter. It's hard to get to 100% in the game, because there are so many hidden missions and things in it.
Buy or Rent
Buy it. No video stores I know of still carry Saturn games. If you can find a copy in a pawn shop or online, I would recommend getting it. You will not be disappointed by it. It's a really cool game and one that offers you a lot of options and fun.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 04/22/03, Updated 04/22/03
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