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Download Powerslave (aka Exhumed)

Powerslave (aka Exhumed)
 
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10010 kb
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Egypt. The land of Pharaohs, mummies, a rich mythos, and the source of a lot of stories for writers. Who could resist tapping into such a rich history for a game? Lobotomy sure couldn't, and in 1996, they used it as a base to build a game on. So how did their effort turn out? Read on.

In Powerslave, you take the role of a mercenary who was hired to rid the Earth of an invading alien force called the Kilmaat. These aliens are attempting to revive the Egyptian pharaoh, King Ramses, for their own nefarious purposes, and it's you're job to stop them... and save the Earth in the process of course. But on his way to the Egyptian city of Karnak with a group of other mercenaries, our hero's helicopter is shot down. This marks the beginning of the game, and it makes for a pretty unique setting among FPSs.

Graphically, Powerslave is quite nice. The enemies don't get pixelated quite as quickly as they do in other FPSs of the time, and the textures look good as well (though they're repeated a lot). The enemies themselves are nicely varied with bugs, mummies, bikini-clad lioness warriors, and large demonic beasts to be fought at the end of certain levels. You'll also be treated to some lighting and atmospheric effects for dark areas, explosions and such.

The music in the game is a mix of good atmospheric soundscapes, and driving beats, all with a distinctly Egyptian feel to them. It's read straight off of the CD, and while there aren't that many tracks, they are split up between the levels in a way to keep them from getting too repetitive. The sound effects for the monsters and weapons are well done, as are the voices for your character. The problem is, your character sounds like he has multiple personalities, as his voice changes from phrase to phrase to the point that is sounds like several different people did his voice samples. Speaking of voices, it's interesting to note that Lobotomy got the one and only Don LaFontaine to do the narrative scenes, and possibly the voice of King Ramses as well. Don did many, many movie trailers voiceovers before his death in 2008, so if you recognize the voice speaking, that's why.

The game plays like you'd expect of a FPS. Seven weapons, keys to unlock doors, hidden walls to be blown up or triggered, etc. You have lives (a bit of an oddity for FPSs), a life bar, and you also have a mana bar. Both bars can refilled by picking up the blue and red energy orbs that enemies drop when they're killed, and the mana is used for various needed abilities and weapons throughout the game. The levels are large, and can become quite complicated as you progress thanks to Powerslave's use of the Build Engine, which allows for “room over room” designs. However, despite all these positive points, the game isn't perfect.

While the levels are designed well, some of them have HUGE canyons and long maze-like sections in them. The end result is the ability to get frustratingly lost in some levels. The game does offer a map screen, but the overzealousness of some level layouts can make those maps rather difficult to read at times. Another issue comes from only being able to permanently save at the end of each level. There are scarabs scattered around each level that allow for saving during a level, but those are only temporary saves, and if you run out of lives, those temp saves are erased... a disheartening annoyance on those really big maps. Another set of problems come with the controls. Strafing is just about utterly useless, because your character moves from side to side so slowly, you simply can't get out of the way of enemy fire most of the time. Mouse-look is crippled, thanks to this game forcing you to hold down a button to look around (unlike other Build Engine games, like Blood and Duke Nukem 3D, which allow you to use a permanent free-look option). The game does help a bit with a weakened auto-aim feature, but it doesn't compensate enough for the other issues.

So how does Powerslave stack up to the classic FPSs of the time? Pretty good overall actually. The Egyptian theme is a nice change of pace, with graphics and sound that are handled well. Good music, multiple endings, and even some humor add to the package. But I have to say, the control issues really hurt this game. They reduce the player's ability to defend themselves, making the game harder in an unnatural way. If it weren't for this, I'd heartily recommend this game to any FPS lover. It's got so much going for it, but an important key element is simply busted. So, I'll say this... if you'd like a different setting in your FPS, and want one that will take you a while to get through, then by all means pick up this game. It's got the level count, design, weapons, graphics and sound that will help you enjoy trying to bring the Kilmaat threat to an end. But be warned... the lack of strafing, and the crippled mouse-look, will make for some very frustrating situations.

If you want to try and cheat a little, set the mouse look button to “Caps Lock” in the control setup (make sure the key's off before you do). That way when you turn on Caps Lock, mouse look continues working without having to hold down anything. It's not perfect, as you can't look around while firing, but it helps a bit.

As for DOSBox, since it's a newish FPS game, you'll need to crank up the cycles. 15'000 and higher should get it running smoothly on 320x240 resolution.


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Reviewed by: The Coop / Screenshots by: The Coop / Uploaded by: The Coop / share on facebook
 

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