As always, I will give you a bit of background on the plot of this
game. You are a human, who has been abducted from earth
by an alien master race. They have taken you, along with
some of your comrades, to fight against other aliens put in the
same position as you, for the master races' amusement.
Basically whoever loses has their planet wiped out, so
obviously you have some pretty pissed off, anxious,
desperately tough competition. If, however, you do win each
fight against 3 other aliens from each race, you will save
planet earth from mass destruction, for the time being. You
continue in this manner until you either die, or face the master
race themselves. The premise of this game actually sounded
to me like it might be uniquely enjoyable, however there are a
few quirks which you have to play the game to find.
The graphics in the game are honestly nothing special. They
aren't awful, but they aren't great. The game employs a few
nice effects in some instances, but then in others it lets them
slip. An example would be fog. The game has a nice ground
fog effect where you have little clouds of fog very close to the
walls, all with transparency, but then there is also 'sort-of'
distance fog which in essence is simply a gray wall a few
hundred yards in front of the ship. This was very disappointing,
and took away from the feel of doom and gloom that a game
like this needs. There were other problems though, with the
graphics, that took away from the feel of total immersion: an
unsophisticated graphics engine pumping out relatively blocky
textures (in comparison to more contemporary space combat
games), few special effects (explosions, sparks etc. were
missing) low/no accelerator optimization, bad lighting effects,
all around outdated look. Keep in mind, though, that graphics
don't always make or break a game, it all comes down to...
Gameplay folks, that's where its at, and this game is confused
as to where 'it' exactly is. Unfortunately, this game gave me
the feeling that it was rushed together in time to meet a
release date, which is odd because I hadn't heard of it until a
few days ago when I saw its ad in a magazine. All of the
gameplay takes place in arenas, and they all seem to be very
similar in layout, however they will have a different
theme/colour. This repetition of bridges and places to hide
within a cylindrical arena made for relatively predictable
gameplay, which was however by no means 'easy'. Putting
aside the poor level layout, the enemies you must stave off to
save planet Earth are very wily. I found myself getting
completely turned around by the aliens as they constantly try
to get in behind you. There are also different ships for you to
chose from, each having their own strengths and weaknesses
in speed, firepower etc. The ships can be very well pitted
against each other, and an even nicer feature was the ability to
choose which ships your wingmen get to fly. Each alien race
in Dead Reckoning has their own abilities and faults, as do the
ships, and before each battle, you are given a briefing on the
races' history. This wasn't much of a help really in terms of
gameplay, but it did show an attempt at enhancing the plot
further. Not much can be said for ingenuity in controls, they
are basically the same as every other tunnel flier out there;
numeric 8,4,6,2 control direction, 7,9 control roll, a,z control
Sound in Dead Reckoning was pretty standard, the weapons
each had their own individual sounds, there was stereo, but
nothing outstanding. Speech was present, but a lot of it was
unnecessary alien mumbo-jumbo which could have been
replaced by perhaps a human voice giving tips on which race
you would face next.
-Creative Idea, no other game with remotely similar plot.
-Variety of ships with different abilities.
-Variety of alien races with different abilities.
-Very dated looking graphics, especially in the modern world
of Direct3D and 3D Accelerators.
-Minor clipping issues.
-No atmosphere to immerse player.
-Simplistic flight physics, even for a tunnel shooter.
-Repetitive arena based combat.
-Extremely limited replayability.