Review by skulldigitty

"Space Harrier with complete freedom......."

I am 26 and have been playing games since my intoduction to ''Tank'' on the 2600. I played Pac-man and Carnival when they were still at the sit-down tables (the old-timers remember those great inventions quite well).

One of my favorite games when I was around 9 or 10 was Space Harrier. At the arcade downtown inside the city's main shopping area (Ohio Center) they had this game on a large screen, projection TV. I have never seen it like this anywhere else (including on the web). Regardless, it was one of my favorites.

GunValkyrie really reminds of this great game (and I believe that Sega even produced Space Harrier....although I could be wrong). Except the main difference between Space Harrier and GunVlakyrie is the fact that you have total freedom over the jet-propellsion. And its not just hit so and so a button to engage the jets......it is the whole control configuration. This in and of itself is what makes the game so enjoyable. You actually have to control the exact movements of the character while trying to steer yourself and shoot at the hordes of enemies.

Most games nowadays allow one analog stick to control all movements of the characters. Forward, backward, strafe etc. (excluding the great FPS genre). I am speaking of 3rd person games. One button shoots, another jumps and other buttons usually are designated for Use buttons and switch weapon/ inventory. GunValkyrie takes this simple minded gameplay and throws it into the fire.

Before I get too unconventional I will give you the breakdown......(I almost think that it is mandatory).

Graphics - 9/10

Smilebit doesnt dissapoint in this department concerning the in-game sequences. The indoor and outdoor worlds are very bright when they should be and very stable and pastelish when it concerns environment. Framerate is not a problem in the slightest as slowdown very, very rarely ever occurs. The draw distances are perspective based without fogging or other distractions. The character animations are top-notch (some of the best I have seen concerning physics of movement). Enemies are well detailed up close and can be distinguished from afar as well. Little details of movement (such as gaseous effects and lighting) are top of the line and in-synch with the movements of the weapons and jet-packs. The only problem I personally had concerning the graphics is the intro (which is similar to Bloodwakes use of still pictures) and the option/ save screens that appear between rounds (these are not next-gen in appearence, and mostly, a rather small beef.....shoot it doesnt really matter at all, but you will see what I mean).

Contols - 8/10

For me personally, this gets a superb 10/ 10. Never have I had to work so hard in mastering the controls of a console based video game (computers on the other hand.....well, sometimes there is a plethora of buttons; but you all know that). Sure, you guys know what you have read concerning the control scheme, but let me tell you that nothing can compare to doing 30+ technical boost-acrobatics while fragging the hell out of 20 plus alien-bugs around you that are all coming towards you from all sides. I'll give you the fact that the controls are hardly even comprehended during the first level, and that you will be very frustrated at first.....especially if you play Halo online as much as I do. But halfway through the second level you start to get the aerial maneuvers down a little.....and quite frankly, you feel so proud at just the simplest combos you pull off. The way that Sega designs the levels also adds to the learning curve. Smilebit does a great job of slowly making you learn the more technical manuevers over the course of the evermore-complicated levels. By the time you get to the platform based 7th level......you will probably be somewhat set to tackle the rest of the game.

But be wary.....if you cannot stand the learning curve of games and get frustrated rather easily........this game might be a rental. Its no two button masher in the likes of games that we have been plagued with for years. Both analog sticks are in constant use, as well as the changing of weapons and firing/ locking on. This game is not for casual gamers who spend an hour a day playing out of boredom.

(the main aspect of this game is to never touch the ground except when absolutely necessary. *NOTE: check out the demo to see the way the game should be played)

Effects/ Music - 6.5/10

The only bad thing concerning the entire game. I have this plugged up to a pretty decent surround sound home theater because I usually like to hear the game at full blast. The music is great in some areas (tranquil and ambient) and downright awful in others (annoying, simplistic techno babble). Hearing the two guns constantly shooting becomes rather tiresome as well. Some people say that the jet-packs are rather annoying....but I think that they make a good enough sound. For a sizable majority......the music is standard arcade style, bland music......but some of the ambient, layed-back tunes are nice and quite fitting. I think that Sega could have hired a better sound technician to come up with better music (shoot I can do much better techno/ ambient with a 1000 dollar MIDI keyboard).

Replayability - 8.5/10

This game is very arcadey in nature, and doing a better job at the given tasks at hand will keep you coming back every few months or so. The game itself will take you 10+ hours or more (depending on how much of a gamer you actually are). But you will probably get ''D'' ranking all across the board resulting in poor spending money for upgrades to your Valkyrie. Because it is a very high-end arcade-type shooter.....I guarantee that this will not sit towards the bottom of your game pile.

Overall - 8.5/10

I couldnt put this score in decimal format in the synopsis statement because it wouldnt allow decimals. I give this score because it is a love/ hate relationship with most gamers. I personally give it a 9.4 or so because I havent been graced with the likes of an innovative game in quite a while. (Rampart would be the last that I can think of.....well I take that back, there are most definately others that fare as well).

If you like old school style shooters, with complete freedom of controls.....not limited to simple two-three button coordinations......then pick this up by all means. Of course the controls take some time in getting use too.....if it was similiar to other games, I dont think that half the things this game pulls off would be included.

Games that require skill in execution are very nill nowadays. This game most definately requires that.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 03/21/02, Updated 03/21/02


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