Shockwave: a review typed by 2TUFF

The Earth seems to suffer an inordinate number of disasters in videogames. Shock Wave is yet another game to make use of the Earth-in-peril scenario. For some reason, several thousand alien ships have suddenly appeared from beyond the galaxy and started to attack the Blue Planet. So you, the archetypal lone hero, set off in your Stealth Bomber lookalike to send them back to where they came from.

The first thing you notice about Shock Wave is that it looks superb. As the blurb on the box trumpets, it has 'over 20 minutes of FMV... superb sound... photorealistic real-world locations [and] stunning 3D terrain.' At least the marketing men got that part right.

Unfortunatly, what they neglected to mention was that you would have to be a terminally bored six-year-old to play the game for more than an hour. For a start, all the missions are preprogrammed: the invaders craft always appears in the same place and perform much the same actions every time you meet them, regardless of what manoeuvres you execute. Which is probably just as well, because your violently oversteering craft effectively rules out any spontaneity on your part - one tap of the joypad to line up an approaching target and you find yourself veering off at a tangent. In a shoot 'em up, this lack of any real feeling of control over your ship is inexcusable.

Unless you can destroy the enemy craft (consisting of ground-based `walkers' as well as spaceships) in a head-on attack first time, you have to backtrack and try again, which soon gets very tiresome. And as well as repetitiveness, you've got to cope with frustration. Each `run' confines you to an elongated polygonal area: fly outside it and your shields run down rapidly; fly too far back into the mission to mop up previously missed targets and you suffer the same fate. The whole exercise is extremely annoying.

Such severely flawed gameplay is particularly annoying because Shock Wave does genuinely look good - although not quite as stunning as Total Eclipse, perhaps. The larger buildings placed on the game plane (pyramids, churches, alien control centres, etc) are excellent, with their detail becoming apparent only when it should. The depth-cued texture mapping - each region you have to liberate from alien control has a different texture - is also very impressive. The only critism of the entire presentation is that the sky is a dull monotone throughout.

When 3DO titles become generally available in the UK, as they soon will, don't be tempted by Shock Wave's extravagant promises - once again, the phrase `all show and no go' is applied to a 3DO game. The 3DO convinced people long ago that it could produce visually opulent interactive movies; unfortunately, Electronic Arts have devoted too much time to the movie aspect and seem to have forgotten about the need for interactivity. Let's hope they make amends with their other fourthcoming 3DO releases...


Well according to 12 3DO/ShockWave owners this deserves at least 8!!


28TH JULY 1994