2, Issue 5
December 9, 1999
an interesting concept: take one world, and split it up into seven
continents all on different levels. Connect all seven with
a biomechanical spine, and put some kind of super-computer at
the center. Add in some prophecies and legacies, make it an RPG,
add in some heavy anime influences - and you have the background
story for Septerra Core, a game by Valkryie Studios, TopWare
Interactive, and Monolith (being a publisher this time around).
Let me begin by saying that Im not a huge CRPG fan. I havent
been since I was about 12 years old, banging away on my Commodore
64. However, the concepts for this game sounded cool enough that
I was awaiting this game since I first heard about it.
glance, the introduction shows off an interesting mix of scenes
both full-motion CG scenes, and also in-game sequences.
The choice for this back-and-forth transition seems unclear to
me; although the CG scenes are fairly impressive. Sadly, the beauty
of this game ends mostly there.
old dude and his prophecy (90k)
I find the game to be acceptable. Ive seen some other review
sites blast the game based on its 640x480 resolution; but to me
that seems fine. I would have preferred an 800x600 mode;
mostly because much of the artwork seems high quality and
wouldve been even nicer in that mode. However, 640x480 doesnt
make for an unacceptably ugly game at all. It does occasionally
make items a little hard to see in a few cases, but Ill
get to that later.
Im alternately impressed and disappointed. Some of the music
and background pieces are wonderful and if you have a sub-woofer,
youll definitely be rewarded with pounding sound effects
in some cases. But, some things get repetitive; and the combat
sounds, while fairly appropriate, didnt impress me in their
variety. And when the combat is as long as it is in this game,
you crave anything new.
Ive mentioned it, let me segue into the topic of combat.
Arguably, this is the worst feature of the game. Every time you
get involved in combat (which can happen simply by walking a little
to close to an animal), the map moves to some open ground
and you and your enemy (or enemies) do a big leap into the center
of the screen. From there, combat works out in real time
mode. Some games have managed to do this successfully; but I dont
feel that this game pulls it off. Characters must wait
as their timing/initiative/action (slash whatever-you-want-to-call-it)
bar crawls up through three stages (signifying weak/medium/strong
attack). The problems start to arise here since you cant
select your attack until the proper stage has filled
up, you must ready your mouse (or hotkey) to hit the proper option
at the exact time it comes available. If you dont,
the next stage of the bar starts to fill, and over
several rounds of combat you will find yourself feeling like a
lot of time has been wasted because computer controlled
enemies are always very precise in their timing. Which is also
another quirk of the combat system: If you select your action
but the enemy somehow does their action at the same time, your
key-press/mouse-click isnt accepted. You have to wait through
the attack, and then repeat your selection. Once you do
get an attack off, youll watch your character make a big
leap forward (or sometimes not, depending on the weapon/combat-type),
make their attack, and then jump back. Then you wait again
and wait, and wait. Your enemies will do the same; but the computer
doesnt have any boredom circuits, does it?