Tonights episode Amok, special guest star reviewer

After two and a half years of delays, publishing deals, and platform switches Amok has finally arrived for the Sega Saturn. Produced by Europe's Scavenger software house and designed by the Lemon team Amok has been a long, long time in coming. So long in fact that it was reportedly canceled numerous times- but here it is. Was it worth the agonizing wait? Could anything with two and a half years of anticipation behind it be worth it? Read on...

Amok started life as a project for the ill-fated 32X add-on (R.I.P.). At the time it was lauded for it's incredible graphics engine which included a mix of polygons and sprites in a 3-d environment. It had all the makings of a hit game, especially on the soft-starved 32X. Alas this is wh= ere the good news ends.

After Sega deep-sixed the 32X Amok was sent into limbo and then rescheduled for the (then) new Saturn. However, once again it was delayed and reappeared only sporadically over the next two years. Many thought it would never see the light of day. Maybe it should have stayed that way.
When Amok was new it's graphics astounded people- it was really incredible. However, in this day and age of rendered, light-sourced, and hi-res graphics it no longer measures up. The once detailed backgrounds are now blocky, bland, and devoid of animation. The playfields have the annoying habit of pixelating rather nastily when you get up close- they even look pretty lousy from afar. The same goes for the polygonal enemies and structures. The sprite-based enemies look cool but they shatter the illusion of 3-d. They're detailed but flat-looking.

There are two bright spots in the games graphics: the animation and explosion effects. The game seems to constantly run at a very high frame rate and everything animates smoothly because of it. Your mech looks really nice when it runs around as do the enemies. The explosions take a nice stab at transparency and don't look half bad. They aren't pixelly meshes, although they aren't true transparencies a la' PS. The larger explosions look especially good. Simulated light-sourcing, and it's probably the best FX in the game.

The music isn't half bad, but does tend to grate on the nerves during extended play. Each track is Euro-techno pop and gets a tad annoying because they loop so much. I would suggest placing a hard-driving CD of your choice in your stereo and cranking it. AHHH, that's much better...
Tut, tut you say. Graphics and music are mere cosmetic and aesthetic embellishments- nice to have but secondary to good gameplay. Unfortunately, Amok's playability won't win it any points either. This is essentially a Doom-style shooter with a 3rd person perspective (like Tomb Raider).

Games like this can be awesome if they're FUN. For whatever reason I have never been this bored with a shooter before. Basically you just run around and destroy things. Even the concept of having mission objectives (for the most part) are search-and-destroy missions. Scavenger has always had the rep for producing fantastic graphics routines, but failing to have quality gameplay to back it up. Since it took it so long to reach gamers it actually fails in both respects.
It's a shame really. I wanted to like this game so much and had very high expectations for it. Due to all the waffling on it's release though it's gone bad (like milk in the fridge for too long). You can file this one under rental only. If you bought it, well, it does make an attractive coaster!

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