Review by skylineR32
"So the Saturn can't do 3D? Play this!"
Step back to 1996. The big games of the time are Quake, Duke Nukem 3D, etc. FPS are all the rage on PC and are starting to pop up on the consoles. Suddenly, on the Saturn, there's an FPS released with little fanfare (save for Sega Saturn Magazines raves about it) called Exhumed, or PowerSlave in the US, by an as yet unknown developer called Lobotomy . An FPS set in an Egyptian theme. I remember standing there with this and Tomb Raider in my hands wondering which one to buy. I will never regret putting Tomb Raider back on the shelf.
The basic story is that you are an explorer in the early 20th century and are looking through the tomb of King Ramses in the ancient town of Karnak when you uncover a curse that leaves you in a spot of trouble. You then work through many levels to collect artifacts and all the parts of your broken radio transmitter in an effort to uncover the curse.
The first thing you notice with Exhumed is the graphics. The Saturn was supposed to be very poor at generating good 3D, with it's emphasis on 2D. The 3D graphics combined with the light sourcing in Exhumed are simply beautiful and move smoothly at a lovely pace. They may look a little dated against today's next generation efforts, but they were a marvel back then.
OK, so the graphics are great, that must mean that the gameplay is non-existant. Wrong! The game has over 20 levels, with some acting as a hub. That is that they have more than one exit point yet you will need to enter that level then go off in one direction and find a certain item that will allow you to then access the alternative exit. This in turn will lead to another set of levels. It's fairly typical FPS stuff although the weapons in Exhumed add a little variety to the standard fare. There's around ten all up. On top of this there are certain artifacts scattered throughout the game that allow you to have particular powers, such as special sandals which let you jump higher, etc. Enemies vary a lot from annoying spiders to mummies, etc, and none are all that easy at first.
The sounds are the only mixed bag in this game. While the music is generally haunting and certainly adds atmosphere to the game, some of the sound affects, particularly those made by the enemies, can be a bit grating. Weapon fire though is nice and loud and clear.
The controls are great with the Saturn control pad handling it all very nicely. Nothing is hard to get at or change while the heat is on in the game and all movement is nice and accurate.
Back when this came out, rumour was everywhere as to when the big FPS's were going to arrive on the consoles. Everyone had said that the Saturn wouldn't see Quake or Duke as it wouldn't handle them and GT Interactive and 3D realms weren't interested in doing Saturn ports. So, Sega bought the publishing rights themselves and handed the task to Lobotomy who set about their business. The Saturn port of Duke was a lot more polished than the PSX version and you can't even compare the censored N64 effort. As for Quake, well the Saturn port blew people away, particularly with it's light sourcing that, in places, was even better looking than the PC version. Quake never did appear on the PSX or N64 and the Quake II releases on those consoles weren't really much more than a cash in on the name. Exhumed also saw a PSX release 6 months later and whilst it was better than the other FPS's on the PSX, it was ported from the Saturn rather than developed from scratch, leaving the Saturn version the better of the two.
One thing to note. In the US and Japanese versions, once you completed the game and collected all the team dolls (an extra challenge after the main game that took me 3 months to complete) you were rewarded with a Worms like game called Death Tank. Us PAL gamers missed out on this however, if you bought Duke and had either an Exhumed or Quake save file, Death Tank Zwei became an option in the title screen.
Considering this game can be found anywhere now, at least in PAL markets, for a few dollars, every Saturn owner should play it. It really is that good.
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 09/13/04
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