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Old 11-02-2008, 01:36 AM   #1
The Coop
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Default Powerslave (PC)




Back when First Person Shooters (FPSs) were becoming all the rage, anyone and everyone was out to try their hand at the genre. Some were more creative than others, some had better settings or music, and some were just so horrid, that the PC gaming world has done its best to make sure people forget they ever existed. Somewhere in all that, was a game called Powerslave, made by a small company named Lobotomy.

In Powerslave, you take the role of a mercenary who was hired to rid the Earth of an invading alien force called the Kilmaat, who took over the Egyptian city of Karnak. They're attempting to revive the Egyptian pharaoh, King Ramses, for their own purposes. It's you're job to stop them... and save the Earth in the process, of course. The story itself is different, and the setting it pretty unique among FPSs. But does this game hold the same allure as ancient Egyptian history? Let's find out...



-=Graphics=-



The first thing you'll notice, is the clarity of the creatures you encounter. While they still get pixelly up close, they're a bit larger than the average sprite for the genre's time period. As a result, the pixelation doesn't start occurring until they've gotten pretty close to you. The textures used for the surroundings are also done well, though they get pixelly more quickly. Canyon and cave walls, ruined structures, lava, water... it all looks good. If there's a downside to the textures, it's that some get used a lot in some levels. So much so, that you start to wonder why they couldn't have made a few more textures for a bit of variety in the massive canyons. But again, they look good, so you're not being bombarded with ugly textures.

While exploring, you'll fight all manner of mummies, Anubis and bikini-clad lioness warriors, and insect-like aliens. The character designs themselves are done well, though a couple of them don't come off as visually inspired (a bikini-wearing lioness?). A lot of them have a very digitized look (think Mortal Kombat), and feature a healthy level of detail. If there's a downside, it's that a few look like they were drawn from scratch (namely the red crabs and the wasps). As such, they don't quite visually fit with the rest. Even so, all the sprites animate in eight different directions, and still generally look good throughout the game.

Like many other FPS games of the time, there's atmospheric lighting used to create dark and light areas, ominous passages, and so forth. The game also uses light sourcing. Laser shots, explosions and such all cast a lighting effect around them as they move or occur. Unfortunately, it's hindered a little by how it was executed. Rather than lighting parts of textures, it simply lights up large blocks of textures. The end result is a bit choppy looking, and detracts from the overall effect. Still, it just a small dent in the otherwise good graphical presentation.

Score- 8



-=Sound=-

As one would expect, you get an assortment of growls, roars, and shrieks from the various monsters in the game. They're done well, and fit the characters they're given to. They're also distinct enough to know what monster is trying to attack you when you can't spot them. Much like the monsters, you're character has varied sounds as well. In fact, they're too varied. It literally sounds like several different people are doing the catch phrases. While I'm sure Lobotomy was going for added vocal emotion, the end result is a character with seemingly multiple personalities.

The music itself is read straight off of the CD, and it's quite good. It ranges from soundscapes, to catchy and driving beats with a distinct influence of Egypt-like instruments and harmonies. While there aren't that many tracks, they're split up nicely amongst the levels so that you don't end up hearing the same song too often.

What's interesting in this area, is who Lobotomy got to do both the narrative scenes, and possibly the voice of King Ramses. None other than Don LaFontaine... the man who's done virtually every movie trailer voice over... ever.

Score- 8.5



-=Gameplay=-

Powerslave is like every other FPS out there. You get an assortment of weapons (seven total), and you use them to blast the enemies you encounter. You'll find keys to unlock doors, switches to throw for accessing new areas, and hidden walls that can be blown up or triggered. However, where the game differs, is in the size of the environments you'll be doing all this in. Namely, they're frickin' huge.

Since this game uses the Build Engine, room on top of room design is used throughout. There are also expansive canyons littered in the game. The end result is level design that's noticeably more complicated than the Doom series. You'll spend a lot of time exploring each level for keys, ammo, health and mana, rather than trying to blaze through them. In fact, some of the levels are too complicated. It's like the design team got a bit too overzealous with their layouts, and resulted in areas that are so convoluted, you'll wind up spending a half hour just trying to find that one small area you need to get to so you can explore more of the level. A prime example would be the very deep canyon in the first half of the game, where once you get to the bottom, it's a pain to find you're way back out. There is a map to help you, but with so many different heights, the map can be tough to read at times.

Anyway, while you're weapon selection isn't too big, it is diverse. You'll get to use a knife, pistol, an M-60, grenades, a flame thrower, a magic staff, and a spell that summons homing lightning clouds. You'll also get special items that allow you breathe underwater, become invincible, do more damage, and more... for a limited time of course. See, you have a mana meter, and to use those special items, you have to have the needed amount of mana. And the fact that some areas need certain items to get through, means you'll likely find yourself being very stingy with your mana usage at times. This add a bit of strategy to the otherwise all-out massacre.

There are over thirty levels all told, but a number of them are hidden, or for multiplayer, so you'll only have to do about twenty of them to beat the game. These levels vary in complexity, but usually center around three themes... Egyptian ruins with canyons, Egyptian ruins with water, and Egyptian ruins and caves with lava. Each level is loaded with hidden areas, and there spots of platforming needed to get across. You'll jump onto ledges, hop from one rocky area to another as they float in lava lakes, and you'll do some swimming too. This helps to break up the corridor syndrome, and make for more diverse gameplay.

If there's a issue in gameplay, it's this... there are scarabs scattered around each level, and you can only save at those points during a level. This wouldn't be so bad, except for one thing... those save points are only temporary (perma-saves only come at the end of each level). If you loose all your extra men, those temp saves are erased, and you have to do the whole level over again from the beginning. And given how big some of the levels are, that can be pretty frustrating.

score- 8.5


-=Controls=-

This is where Powerslave hits a few bumps in the road. While the controls themselves are good and responsive, there are problems. The biggest one is that strafing is essentially useless. You move so slowly, that a fireball thrown from an Anubis warrior far away, can still hit you. Circle strafing is literally impossible, and get this... when you're strafing, you can't use the mouse. It somehow locks out the mouse movement.

Speaking of the mouse, if you like mouse looking, you're going to be upset. Unlike nearly every other FPS that features this handy option, Powerslave has crippled mouse looking. You have to hold a button down to look around. You can't set an option to toggle it on and off like so many other Build Engine FPSs (Duke Nukem, Blood, etc). Thankfully, the game does feature a somewhat weakened auto-aiming ability (the enemy has to be aware of your presence for it to work, otherwise, your weapon just fires straight ahead), but that still doesn't make up for not being able to quickly look around freely in areas where you have to make difficult jumps, or find the enemy above/below you that's sniping away at your health. You can kind of cheat by setting mouse look to the Caps Lock button (this enables toggling it on and off), but even then you're not really any better off. The moment you start moving, your mouse becomes locked in place until you stop. Not good.

Score- 6


-=In the end...=-

So how does Powerslave stack up to the classic FPSs of the time? Pretty good actually. The Egyptian theme is a nice change of pace, with graphics and sound that are done pretty 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 cripple 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 a key element is simply busted. So, I'll say this...

If you'd like a different setting, and a FPS 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.

Overall Score- 7.5

Last edited by The Coop; 11-02-2008 at 08:56 AM.
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Old 11-02-2008, 07:09 AM   #2
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Is the PC version the one where you can save only on certain spots?

In demo you could save where you wanted i believe, but later i got a version where you could only save on certian occasions (checkpoint).

Also i don't believe the controls are so strange. to counter the poor movement you do have some sort of autoaim.
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Old 11-02-2008, 08:30 AM   #3
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Yep. That's something I forgot to mention, which I'll add to my review (I knew I forgot something, even after all that typing :amused. There are scarabs scattered around each level, and you can only save at those points during a level. This wouldn't be so bad, except for one thing... those save points are only temporary (perma-saves only come at the end of the levels). If you loose all your extra men, those temp saves are erased, and you have to do the whole level over again from the beginning. And given how big some of the levels are, that can be pretty frustrating.


I mentioned the weakened auto-aim feature in the controls section. It's what gave the controls a "6" instead of a "5". The auto-aim helps, but it is limited (the enemy has to be aware of your presence for it to work, otherwise, your gun just fires straight ahead). Disappointing really, as the broken strafing and mouse look are the only really bad aspects of the game. But seeing as those are important controls, it's hard to overlook their issues.

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Old 25-02-2008, 01:25 AM   #4
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From the name of the game, and its Egyptian setting, do you think the devs were Iron Maiden fans? One of their albums is called Powerslave, and the art has an Egyptian style building in front.
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Old 26-02-2008, 08:22 AM   #5
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i believe this was also called exhumed on saturn. i personally didn't like the game but that's just me.
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Old 26-02-2008, 08:44 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JJXB View Post
i believe this was also called exhumed on saturn. i personally didn't like the game but that's just me.
It was called Exhumed in parts of Europe for several systems (PC, PS1, Saturn), and Seireki 1999: Pharaoh no Fukkatsu in Japan. The Saturn, PS1 and PC versions were all pretty different in terms of level design (PC=Huge levels, PS1=Smallest levels, Saturn=In the middle), but shared a lot of similarities elsewhere (the monsters and weapons for the most part, the opening and CD audio, etc.).

Personally, I think the Saturn version came out the best, and got the most attention. It came to a system with little in the way of FPSs, had those rather nice new lighting effects, and streamlined the gameplay so it was a bit more intense, and not as exploratory.

But, as Dennis Miller used to say, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.
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Old 26-02-2008, 12:24 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ioncannon View Post
From the name of the game, and its Egyptian setting, do you think the devs were Iron Maiden fans? One of their albums is called Powerslave, and the art has an Egyptian style building in front.

I was gonna mention the Iron Maiden thing. But you did first. So, actually, I don't know why I'm posting this.

Hmm.




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Old 01-03-2008, 01:25 PM   #8
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Uhmm i want this game!:lauh:he is abandonware?We can put it in abandonia available?
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Old 01-03-2008, 06:16 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gnome94 View Post
Uhmm i want this game!:lauh:he is abandonware?We can put it in abandonia available?
Not likely. While the game is 12 years old this year, and Lobotomy (it's maker) no longer exists, Interplay is on the ESA protection list, and still an active company. So unless I'm mistaken on how this whole thing works, anything that has Interplay's name on it can't and won't be added to this site.

Edit: After some digging, there seems to be some ten year rule, and a fifteen year rule. Not sure what the difference is in terms of what applies where, but if the fifteen year rule is the general one that's being used for companies that are still around, then there's another three years to go.
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Old 02-03-2008, 12:41 PM   #10
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I remember being able to download it off Underdogs, try there, they might have an agreement with ESA (or are hosting it w/o permission).
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