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volume 1, issue 2

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Off the Shelf:
The Top Shelf






By Jason "loonyboi" Bergman

Title: Forsaken
Publisher: Acclaim
Developer: Probe
Average Price: $50

f all the 3D games that gathered press over the last year or so, Forsaken fell by the wayside for me. Sure, it looked kinda neat, but it just didn't have excite me the same way some other games did. Actually, until a short period before the game's release, Forsaken really didn't get much hype at all. Chalk it up to Acclaim's devotion to their Turok franchise, or perhaps the fact that Probe isn't exactly a new, hip, development house, but Forsaken didn't exactly show up on many magazine covers.

It's because of this lack of hype that I was so pleasantly surprised when Forsaken found its way on my desk. I really wasn't well...expecting anything, really, which probably had something to do with that, but no matter what the reasons, Forsaken is an entertaining experience. It's far from perfect, but it is good for all it attempts to be.

And in all honesty, Forsaken doesn't really try to be very much of anything but an enjoyable experience. Forsaken doesn't make any real attempt at storytelling, which despite my preference for games with plots, I respect Probe for doing. Why? Well, let's face it. Sure, a game with an involving story is going to be a better game than one without it, but a game with a terrible, derivative plotline is probably worse than a game with no plot at all. Forsaken's plot is about the same depth as the original Quake's. Well, okay...maybe that's a bit harsh. Forsaken (unlike Quake I) isn't a mishmash of several different plots with no intelligible explanation for anything.

Instead, Forsaken puts you in the personae of a rough and tough biker dude, looting banks, subways, and various other subterranean locations for gold. The concept here is that this is one of those post-apocalyptic times, where people are fighting for everything. The game makes a feeble attempt at Duke Nukem-esque characterization via voice-overs, but I found these (unlike Duke's) incredibly annoying after only a few minutes. Fortunately this can be turned off (believe me...I don't know how long I could have played this game if I didn't have that option...these are annoying).

But who cares about Forsaken's plot, anyway. It's barely there, and you don't need to watch the opening FMV to enjoy the game (I suggest skipping it altogether...it's not exactly Citizen Kane here). What Forsaken does do right, is excel in one area: gameplay. If you ever played Descent, you've got the general concept here. The difference between Descent and Forsaken, is the fact that the camera automatically pulls you back to your center view (no more flying upside down...w00p). You can get by very easily by using the standard Quake-Doom controls: the four keys for forward, backward, strafe left & right, and using the mouse to look around. Actually, I was pretty impressed by how quickly I got used to the controls...considering I never cared much for Descent, this is a pretty big achievement, all things considered.

The game's levels pretty much have you flying around and opening doors...some levels are better designed than others, some being terribly frustrating, but as a whole the level design is pretty decent. The enemies, which do get pretty repetitive, have surprisingly complex AI (or at least it seems that way). These guys dodge missiles (damn, did that get frustrating) follow you around corners, and pretty much make the game a lot more entertaining than it could have been.

I bet you're wondering when I'm going to get around to the graphics, huh? Well...okay. Forsaken is one damn pretty game. Every weapon is a different lighting trick, there's colored lighting everywhere, the lightning effects that some of the enemies use are truly a sight to behold, and well...it's just beautiful.

I played the game on a number of different systems, and I have to admit I was impressed by how well the game ran on a p133 with 32 megs of ram. Granted it wasn't even close to how it looked on a p400 with 64 and SLI Voodoo2s...but the software mode is pretty impressive, all things considered. Forsaken is as universally written as any game is going to get these days...managing to squeeze a great deal out of a computer's system. If you've got a 3DFX card, you're going to love this game no matter what your setup is like.

But again, Forsaken isn't perfect. The lack of any real storytelling makes the game a pretty empty experience, but as empty experiences go, it's one of the best. Don't expect too much as far as replayability is concerned here, or at least until the inevitable add-on packs start to hit the shelves. Of course, that's just the single player experience.

Multiplayer Forsaken is well...a hoot. It's not exactly Doom (my personal favorite deathmatch game) but it is damn fun. Why? Well, the weapons are so well made, that in single player you really can't appreciate them enough. Sure it's fun to launch a huge missile at an incoming enemy, but believe me...knowing it's your friend about to get nailed by that uber-missile is much cooler. And when I say uber-weapons...I mean uber-weapons. These range from mines (particularly fun in multiplayer) to room-destroying bombs, to a missile that creates a gravity warp that sucks in the unsuspecting player (again...totally kickass in deathmatch). All of these weapons of mass destruction are fun to watch, and are even surprisingly well balanced.

Of course, I might be biased somewhat when I say this (more on this in a second) but I found myself enjoying deathmatch Forsaken quite a bit. What makes this stand out from the pack? Well...I'm not sure what it is about Forsaken, but I discovered quite unexpectedly that I'm actually good at it. Yep...little ol' loony was suddenly at the top of the deathmatch list. Go fig. Now of course, I'm not exactly challenging Thresh here or anything (although...I'm not sure if he's ever even played Forsaken...maybe I can beat him...but I doubt it) but against my usual group of cronies, I kicked ass. Considering that I'm (admittedly) one of the worst Quake players you'll ever meet (if I'm ever on the top of a Quake list, it's usually due to my impossibly low ping) this is quite an accomplishment.

Unfortunately for me, there (at this time) is no dedicated server, or GameSpy support. Both are supposedly in the cards, so perhaps I'll find myself being able to play Forsaken against real players (and subsequently discovering that I'm not good...I just played against people who sucked). Of course, by then Forsaken may have already been banished to the back of the pile.

Oh well...I suppose that's what happens when you don't have an involving storyline, huh? :)

- Jason "loonyboi" Bergman is the editor-in-chief here at loonygames.



Credits: Bargain Bin logo illustrated and is © 1998 Dan Zalkus. Geek Toys is © 1998 Jason Bergman. All other content is © 1998 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is a majorly hostile gesture.