Archived Pages from 20th Century!!
|Reviewed by: Jeff Kang|
|Category:||Futuristic Sport||Released:||November 1996|
|Multiplayer:||Up to 4 via Modem/Serial, IPX.|
|Sound devices:||Windows 95 compatible sound cards|
|Computer||Memory||HD space||CD speed|
Reviewer's Hardware: Sound Blaster 16, 1MB video card
Is playing the same sport games day in and day out becoming monotonous? Does the sport fan in you crave to play something beyond hockey, baseball, football, and hockey again? If so, then Activision's HyperBlade could be your answer. Featuring advanced 3D graphics, fast and furious gameplay, HyperBlade delivers the thrilling cybersport of the future to your PC.
It is the mid-21st century, and the face of sports has changed dramatically. In a blood-thirsty society of a dark future, 'tame' sports like hockey and football have fallen out of fan favour. In their place is the Transnational HyperBlade League in which player brutality is encouraged, and athlete casualties are expected. You must take the reins of one of the twelve international teams, and compete in this league where too often winning and surviving are one and the same.
Los Angeles Shockwave vs. Seattle Fury
The game is played in a concave, oval-shaped arena called a 'drome'. Two teams of five players, consisting of 2 forwards, 2 substitutes, and a goalie are each equiped (or should I say armed) with a 'jak' and heavily armoured in protective gear. The jak resembles a hockey stick with a scoop at the tip used to pick up and handle the 'rok', which continuing with the hockey analogy, is the equivalent of the puck. The object of the game is to fight for possession of the rok, and hurl it past the opposing goalie into their goal. Each goal has a base value of 1 point and the team with the most points at the end of three periods is the winner. Aside from these game objectives however, pretty much anything goes. There are no rules or referees, no penalties for high sticking, roughing, slashing, decapitating, etc. Yes, I did say decapitating. If you manage to cause fatal injuries to one of your opponents, you can then use his or her head as a projectile to fling from your jak. To add insult to injury, scoring with a decapitated head results in a four point bonus. It is good thing that you are bundled underneath all of that protective armor, because it's the only thing separating you from the blade of your opponents jak.
Player-stats should be taken in consideration when choosing your team.
To begin a game you must choose your team and then compete in either exhibition or gauntlet play. In an exhibition game, you can choose the two competing teams as well as the drome in which you will play in. Gauntlet mode offers more of a challenge as you must defeat all eleven opposing teams in succession without losses in order to capture the league title. Losing even one game returns you to the beginning, and your athletes who die during game are gone from your roster for the remainder of the tournament. Choosing a team in HyperBlade changes more than the color of your jersey, as each team consists of players of varying ability. Individual athletes have different stats in strength, speed, stamina, etc, which affect how they perform in the drome. Some teams require different play styles than others due to strengths and weaknesses of its team members, which adds more variety to the game. After the team is chosen, you must select your starting rotation for the game. Usually the two default forwards are the team's strongest players but you can customise your team to your tastes by substituting in from your bench. However, whoever you leave on the pine will probably see lots of action in the game anyway as your starters receive injuries and such.
Mark the positions of the multipliers for they are the key to victory.
The match begins with a scramble in the middle of the drome for the rok that is shot into the air by the startgun. After a team gains posession of the rok, the two forwards must pass the rok back and forth between the two of them, and through whatever means at their disposal, get the rok into the opposing side's goal. Along the way they not only have to negotiate around the two opponents but also through the dromes built-in collection of obstacles that can help or hinder bladers. These obstacles include jump-ramps, turnstiles, and hurdles. Traveling over a jump-ramp sends the blader airborne out of harms reach and allows the performance of spectacular aerial stunts. Turnstiles are outfitted with many razor-sharp blades that do not harm the first person to move through them, but once set spinning, slices and dices the next blader who passes through to shredded perfection. Hurdles come in two forms, the first is just a solid concrete block, which if not avoided, sends you sprawling backwards. The laser hurdles, on the other hand, are dangerous traps that will cut you clean in half if you pass through it with low health. Also scattered around the drome are various power-ups and bonuses. Among these are multipliers that double or even quadruple the value of your next goal, projectile weapons, and land mines. These dangers and power-ups add a new dimension to the game, making each drome a different playing environment that you must adapt to and take advantage of in order to succeed. You will want to examine and remember the drome layout and features before the match begins. This adds an element of strategy that no good sport game is without.
Blood flows freely in the HyperBlade drome.
Keeping in synch with the game's "kill or be killed" mentality, the athletes have a variety of fighting moves at their disposal. In order to be successful, you not only have to defend yourself against attacks, but also take aggressive action when necessary. Body checks and tripping are great ways to slow down your opponent or knock the rok from their control. Attacks such as slashing, punching, kicking should be used whenever possible as each hit landed lowers the health of the target. Players die when their health reaches zero, although substitutes can be brought into the game at any time to replace the injured. This brings about another method through which the game can be won. If you manage to kill all four of the opposing team's forwards and then score a goal, you win the game no matter what the score happens to be. Sometimes this is the only way to come back and win a match when the score is blown wide open.
One of HyperBlade's strongest features is its ability create the totally believable environment into which the gamer is thrown. The character movements are extremely lifelike and great effort has been expended in creating realistically behaving players. They show their excitement when they score a goal by pumping a fist into the air, and make their frustration and anger known when the game isn't going their way. Small details like these are captured and bring the HyperBlade athletes to life. Stunning 3D graphics and special camera angling effects help to make the game visually pleasing, and adds to the realism. The video panning used is similar to those used in 3D fighting games except that the action is focused upon your player in relation to the position of the rok. The only problem I had with the changing camera angles was that sometimes it became slightly disorienting, making it easy to lose track of the rok. The audio element of HyperBlade is fantastic, and helps greatly in setting the atmosphere for the game. Sirens blare, the fans cheer madly (or groan with equal enthusiasm), and players grunt and yell and 'express' their pain. In short, HyperBlade presents all of the bells and whistles you would experience in a real live sports stadium. These sound effects are supported by a rocking sound track that is spooled directly off of the CD using Red Book Audio format.
Jak be nimble. Jak be quick.
The Artificial Intelligence is competitive and aggressive. The computer-controlled players play to win and if will not shy from stepping on a few toes to reach their goal (or more appropriately, your goal). However, as with most AI's, there are weaknesses that can be exploited by gamers. The computer does follow certain patterns that can be used against it. For example, knowing where to place land mines in the computer's regular zones of movement gives you a great advantage. Also, picking up on the AI's preferred shot and travel patterns allow you to more easily gain possession of the rok. However, small loophole like these can be found in any computer game, and mastering the skills to take advantage of them is part of playing and improving at the game.
Performance on a low-class Pentium was quite acceptable, with smooth 3D rendering and character animation. More powerful Pentiums with more RAM should experience an even better frame rate and optimal gameplay. Owners of 3D Video cards can take advantage of HyperBlade's Enhanced Direct 3D mode with improved polygon-drawing and texture mapping capabilities.
HyperBlade is a certainly unique gaming experience. In combining modern day sports with radical futuristic ideas, an interesting new game is created. The use of spectacular graphics and sound creates an ultra-realistic playing environment for the fierce competition of HyperBlade. The explicit violence that dominates much of the game will appeal to some gamers. However, those who cannot stomach the sight of blood and gore are forewarned as there is plenty of it in the game. For parents though, there is an option to eliminate the blood that can be activated at personal discretion. HyperBlade is excellent choice for both action and sport fans alike.
|Appeal:||Action fans and sport gamers with a stomach for blood.|
|Originality & Storyline:||Original gameplay. Interesting background detail on the teams that doubles as a storyline.|
|Graphics & Video:||Well rendered polygon-based graphics.|
|Audio:||Excellent use of sound effects. Mood-setting sound track.|
|Longevity:||Differences in team and individual player performances keep things interesting.|
|Presentation:||Very smooth, professional interface.|
|Packaging & Docs:||Not present in pre-release review version.|
|Bugs & Problems:||No obvious bugs.|