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Hoverstrike CD for the Jaguar

Review by Scott Tirrell

Hoverstrike- the Unconquered Lands comes onm CD for the Jaguar. According to the back of the slickly-produced CD case, Unconquered Lands adds enhanced controls, full-motion video sequences, and ten new missions to the original cartridge for the Jaguar. To be honest, I haven't seen the cartridge version so I'm going to review Hoverstrike- Unconquered Lands on its own merit and not compare it to the iriginal game. So, if you are wondering if the CD version is worth buying when you already have the cartridge, this review probably won't be too much help.

The first thing that I noticed about Hoverstrike is the nice packaging. It is kind of funny, but as I was putting this review together, someone on Usenet mentioned how impressed he was with Jaguar CD packaging. This game has a very nice full-color overlay for the Jaguar joypad. The manual also seems thicker than some past efforts. Finally, the CD is full-color with some nicely-done artwork. Not that an objective focused reviewer gets swayed by the superficial niceties like these. Objective, focused game reviewers from ST+ Fanzine tell me that the game is the thing :-).

The Story

The story is nothing too exciting, really. At least to read. Its kind of like the tired old bland sci-fi that you'd expect to accompany a video game. It seems that the colonists haven't been heard from in six months. Hmmmmm.... The manual say that "you fear the worst." Ah, only six months. Why overreact? Oh, did I mention that Terrakian Pirates have taken over the planet as well? Maybe they were invited but, just in case, they decide that the best course of action is to send in a lone pilot in a hovercraft. Your job is to take out defenses in a series of missions on the planet. While having a series of missions is a good idea, it is unfortunate that they only amount to destroying different things.

Funny thing is, the story is very effective when brought to your Jaguar's screen in full motion video. The game does a great job of setting an atmosphere that is consistent and immersive. The Terrakian enemies are all well-designed and look obviously hostile and futuristic. They aren't a hodgepodge of loudly-colored polygons like those in Cybermorph. For an unexplicable reason I found myself loathing these Terrakian pirates. It doesn't help that you suspect they use a facotry to extract organic resources from human corpses. A little more sinister than questing for gold bullion, eh, matey?

The Graphics

Graphics are probably the best thing about this game. There are textures abound in this game along with some very nice lighting effects. Many of the missions have different terrains and they all look nice. One nice effect is the moving of terrain such as waves and lava. Your ship bounces along in the surf of the planet's oceans. It is a very nice effect. Another very well-done special effect is lighting. There are some night missions where flares are used to light up your surroundings and when you fire a weapong, this also causes the surrounds to become visible.

Like stated before, the enemies seemed to be very well-designed. They are also represented well on-screen. You can see an enemy from a variety of angles. They also move fluidly. The graphics drew me into this game immediately.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment graphically are the full motion videos. The ones that are included are great. There definately needs to be more of them, though. You'll begin to get very tired of seeing the same scene over and over and over again.

The Sound

The sound fits in well with the atmosphere. The music is great. Unfortunately, like the full motion videos, there is simply not enough music. It begins to repetitive all too soon. Still, though, it fits in surprisngly well and doesn't seem like much other video game music that I've heard in the past. It seems to be fairly original and fresh. To be honest, though, I haven't heard too many other CD games.

As far as the sound effects go, they are fair and pretty much are only worth mentioning in that they let you know when something explodes or an enemy is approaching. There is nothing to really talk about in terms of sound and the game is lackluster in this area. It really is too bad. Considering the thought that apparently went into the design of the enemies, it would've been great to have a distinctive sound for each.

The Gameplay

The first thing that you'll notice about Hoverstrike is that the motion and controls are quite choppy. All of the textures come at a price of limited responsiveness. Its almost impossible to get precise controls with the crosshairs. Luckily, the game seems to be forgiving with the player's aiming and almost gives you "the benefit of the doubt." Honestly, though, it is hard to imagine that they've improved the controls of Hoverstrike too much. The cartridge must be unplayable.

Strangely, I'm not going to pan Hoverstrike. Even though the controls are dead on, the game makes up for it by adding an element of strategy. You might not be able to get very farby simply tearing off towards targets on your radar. You'll need to instead be a little patient and use the landscape to your advantage. You'll be able to sneak up on some high gun turrets and find that they are unable to aim at you. Or, better yet, you'll launch mortars from behind hills at unsuspecting enemies.

Another thing about Hoverstrike that I like is the immersive atmosphere. Not everyone is going to feel this way about the game, to be sure, but the game spurred me on and I got into it. It would have been more effective if there was the promise of different missions and full motion videos later in the game but it still works. If you can get this game cheaply, you should do so. The only other point that you need to know is that Hoverstrike only saves two games on a Memory Track cart.