Game Over Online ~ Xtom 3D

GameOver Game Reviews - Xtom 3D (c) Jamie System Development, Reviewed by - Chili Palmer

Game & Publisher Xtom 3D (c) Jamie System Development
System Requirements Pentium 200, 32MB Ram, 3D Accelerator
Overall Rating 60%
Date Published Monday, August 9th, 1999 at 02:08 PM

Divider Left By: Chili Palmer Divider Right

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, 3D shooters were a dime a dozen. Classic titles like Raptor filled our hard drives as well as our hearts. Fast forward to the present and you'll be hard pressed to find many 3D shooters. The market seems to be cornered and many developers haven't seemed willing to enter the world dominated by the Descent series. Enter Xtom 3D from Jamie System Development, a Korean based development team that has created a new 3D shooter. Fans of the genre aren't in for much of a treat though, despite the 3D accelerated graphics, as Xtom 3D fails to add spice to a recipe in need of flavoring.

'A storyline is a fine thing to waste' appears to be the moto for Jamie System Development, since the storyline doesn't seem to make it out of the manual. There is no semblance of a storyline occuring during the game. It follows the 3D shooter formula exactly by limiting the development of a story and focusing more on missions so full of action, you're lucky to take a few breathes of air during the sequences. For some that might be a good thing, but for others, we prefer to fight for a cause. Here now is your cause; you'd better write it down though, you might not see it again.

The continent of dragons and elves, Elfarea, is controlled by the humans. Around the end of the confusion of magic and swords of the 6 ally continents, the scientists studying ancient history find machinery techniques controlling the power of mana.[Synthetic Magic], so it's called, is a new system that is managed by the power of the wizards. It is either stored in the ancient machines or is being used for other purposes.

Starting with it's use on small objects, by the end of Days of Confusion, its usage boomed dramatically as the civilization progressed.However, magic is composed of nature itself and therefore its misuse brings a natural disaster in Elfarea. People finally realize the cause of the disaster and decide to restrain on the use.

But through the years of confusion and finally the peace, among them are the groups of people who are after the power of Synthetic Magic.They call themselves [Imperium]. Their hiding place being in the northern mountain range of the continent, they make weapons out of the Synthetic Magic.

Most people have restrained themselves from using the magical power until Elfarea restores its natural balance again, but the confusion of nature doesn't seem to end.

This is due to the Imperium misusing its power to gain the complete control over the continent. The 6 ally continents' continue misusage of the power finally leads them to a war against Elfarea.

English skills aside (it is a Korean development team after all), the game does offer a few unique features. For example, you have the option of controlling three different pilots, piloting three different ships. The XTOM ship is piloted by Karil Rewmit, a member of the ally airforce cavalry who uses Chaos mana as his energy source. Next is WARLOCK pilot, Mir Arshenel, who uses pure Synthetic Magic as her source of mana. Finally we have Kreator who pilots the VX-II ship. This particular ship uses no magic, confining itself solely to weapons of destruction. What does this all mean? It basically means that each ship is unique in the weapons and magical effects it produces and uses during battle. So pick a ship and let's get to war!

The game consists of a series of missions that progress in a linear fashion. The object of each mission is to survive the onslaught of oncoming ships and destroying the boss at the end of each level. Can you spell F-O-R-M-U-L-A? I knew you could. At the beginning of each mission, you get to choose which ship you wish to use in combat. Mission locales include deserts, valleys, caverns and enemy bases and there is a decent amount of variety in terms of environment and enemy ships. For example, during the valley stage, not only will the action occur high in the skies, but at times you'll have to fly down to the cavern floor to take out an enemy bunker. There is one problem with this 'movement', and that's in terms of the camera angles. At times it was very difficult to follow the ship in it's travels from one area to the next. There are numerous different enemy ships (and ground units) in the game which adds to the overall gameplay, but many of the ships fire the same weapons at you. There is very little variety in terms of enemy fire. Another major flaw I noticed in the game was the lack of objects one could run into. At times I was flying so low to the ground, that I knew I was going to fly into a smoke stack, or a building. I'll have to remember to go to church this Sunday, cause each and every time I was about to fly into disaster, I somehow managed to fly right through it. There's only one person you can thank for that kind of miracle.... the developer. I'm not sure if it's a flaw in the game, or perhaps they just decided halfway through the game that they wouldn't make the pilot fly around obstacles. Either way, it looks incredibly awkward when playing this title.

I'm sure you've played this game a million times before. Fly your ship through each level destroying baddies, picking up energy boosts, and avoiding death until you finally reach the boss ship which fires so many rounds of ammo, that you must figure out the flying pattern to avoid being shot while still managing to get off as many shots at the boss as physically possible (breathe here). Isn't there anything unique about the gameplay? To some extent, sure. For example, if you hold down your fire button, your mana source will continue to increase in power and force until you finally unleash your money shot on unsuspecting ships. That's right, mana source. You weren't expecting a Korean based game without some reference to magic now were you? The idea behind this is that not all your weapons will be focused on rockets and gunfire. You'll be able to draw from your magical 'mana' source to produce energy blasts that are far more powerful than any missile. While a nice concept, this simply resolves into another powerful weapon that you can use in battle. I barely even noticed I was using magic to destroy the ships, personally I just enjoyed watching the carnage.

The game does feature, and in fact require, 3D accelerated graphics with resolutions ranging from 640x480 all the way up to 1600x1280. The environments are colorful, the ships detailed and crisp, and the weapon effects are pretty decent. I was pleasantly surprised with the presentation of Xtom 3D, although clearly there's no top of the line technological features here. No fog effects, explosions are very limited, and everything seemed to be a little too square. I have a feeling they spent a lot of time with in-game graphics, because the menus are a little less than spectacular. You won't be able to alter graphical options outside of the game either, you can only edit them during the game when the action is halted. In terms of sound, Xtom 3D seems to play things by the book. Music can be heard playing throughout each level and consists basically of feet stomping techno beats that, much like the action, continue on and on until you scream at the top of your lungs for it to stop just for a moment, so you can have a sip of water. There is no speech in this game but it is cluttered with sound effects. Everything from weapon fire to ship effects can be found and none of them are overly impressive. It's the type of game where if you had to close your eyes and guess which game it was simply by listening to the effects, you might pick a dozen other games that use the exact same sounds.

The controls in Xtom 3D are incredibly basic. You can use your keyboard or joystick to control your ship and the only controls you'll need to use are your basic up/down/right/left commands along with a primary and secondary firing button. Each of these is easily configured through the main menu. In terms of multiplayer, you can play with two people on the same machine. What this consists of is simply team play, as you fly side by side attempting to complete each mission. Network play is also available but this to is simply team play too. There is no dog fighting allowed, no deathmatch, and definitely no topless flying allowed either.

You can sugar coat things all you want, but it's the same old Cheerios underneath. That's the story of Xtom 3D, as it chooses to follow the 3D shooter formula rather than being original. If you're yearning for some 3D shoot-em-up action, it could be worse... and it could be better too. Xtom 3D will undoubtely get lost in the sea of mediocrity.


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