Forsaken 64 (N64)
Forsaken 64 is the N64 port, handled by Iguana U.K., of the game and concept developed by one of Acclaim's other out-of-house teams, Probe. As the name implies, Forsaken 64 contains some additions and enhancements over its cousins on the PC and PlayStation. But at the core is the same great game found on those other systems.
Forsaken 64 is said to be a much better version of Descent. Well, the problem is that I've never played Descent. And, quite honestly, I don't know if I would want to now after playing this game. Forsaken 64 apparently takes the Descent concept several steps further, much like GoldenEye took the Doom concept to a new level.
So in Forsaken 64 you have full 360s control over your heavily armed hoverbike. That means you can go up, down; left, right; forward, backward. The one nice thing about Forsaken 64 is that if you get turned upside down, the game automatically corrects your view so you're right-side up. This orientation is very useful after going through numerous up/down tunnels in the levels.
The control in Forsaken 64 is comprehensive but easy-to-pick-up and responsive. The controller setup cannot be changed, but here's the default control scheme that should appeal to nearly everyone: The Control Stick is used to aim the direction that you want your vehicle to go. Holding down the A button makes you go forward and the B button makes you go backward. The C group lets you strafe in four directions. The R button is used to fire your special weapon, and the Z trigger is the main attack method. The Control Pad is used to switch your primary weapons and to switch your secondary weapons.
Options are generally your standard fare in Forsaken 64. You can toggle the individual sound volumes, change the background music during the middle of a game, increase or decrease the brightness and contrast levels, choose the crosshair size, and switch between a first-person and a third-person viewpoint. (First-person is definitely much better.) There are also some multi-player options such as CPU difficulty, arena selection, hide computer screen (whether you want to divide the screen into four in the one- or two-player modes or not), and a few others.
Gameplay consists of different objectives for different missions in Forsaken 64. As a matter of fact, Forsaken 64 would undoubtedly be a much more dull and boring experience without them. The objective of the first level is to merely destroy all enemies. But the object of the second level is to find a bomb, activate it next to a defense shield, and get back to the beginning before it blows up. Future missions have you protecting a drone, defending a reactor, and much more.
Navigating the levels in Forsaken 64 means you'll have to keep on your toes. Standing still in this game is not wise. Just the opposite of GoldenEye is required: You should be moving at all times in order to avoid enemy fire and to take them out from all angles. Even after clearing out seemingly every enemy, some will pop out of nowhere if you get somewhere new or pick-up power-ups. Stealth is not something that's needed in this game. Along the way, you'll have to find locks and timers to open doors, not to mention figuring out puzzles that are often part of the mission objective.
Particularly nasty (and impressive) in Forsaken 64 is the intelligence of the enemies. Each of the little robotic critters seems to have different attack and defense tactics, some of which will make you run for your very life. Although Forsaken 64 is very, very challenging, it's not quite frustrating. Some of the mazes are large and complex, but you'll often have time to explore them once you get rid of most of the enemies. And what's very nice is that when you die, all the enemies you killed stay dead. You don't get to start from the exact point you died, though; you will start at the beginning, at the last restart point you found, or at the boss encounter.
One of the major selling points of Forsaken 64 is its awesome multi-player mode. One to four players can participate in levels specifically designed for deathmatch. The best thing is that the computer will take control of the extra players if you want. So if you're playing by yourself, then you can face off against three CPU opponents. In the two-player deathmatch, you can include two CPU opponents if you want. Three players can also include one CPU opponent if desired. And, trust me, these CPU 'bots are no pushover. Pumping up the difficulty level will make them more aggressive, more accurate, and more deadly -- you just better hope the computer doesn't find you.
There are several multi-player modes to choose from as well. "Max Frags" is when the person who reaches the frag (kills) limit first is the winner. Frags can be set from 5 to 50. There's the "Last Man" mode, which is when you set the players to have from 3 to 10 lives. The winner is the last person alive. The "Bomb Tag" mode is when one player carries a bomb and must unload it before the counter reaches zero. The person carrying it the shortest amount of time is the winner. Finally, there's a special one-player "Battle Mode" that's kind of like a combination of the single-player and multi-player modes.
So how does Forsaken 64's multi-player mode rank among the N64's elite? It's one of the best. Personally, I rate it below GoldenEye, Snowboard Kids, and Mario Kart 64. (I also like Hexen's multi-player mode better, but I realize that 90% of people wouldn't agree with that.) But it's better than the multi-player modes in other games such as Diddy Kong Racing, Chameleon Twist, Star Fox 64, Bomberman 64 (maybe), Duke Nukem 64, Extreme-G, Wayne Gretzky, etc. There are plenty of regenerating weapons on each level, as there are plenty of places to hide. I must confess, however, that I didn't like some of the multi-player levels designs that are more on the linear side. I also thought some of the levels were a little too large.
Graphically, Forsaken 64 is quite nice. I must admit that I'm not as impressed as a lot of other people who reviewed the game, though. To me, the graphics seem a little bland and simple. There are some cool real-time lighting effects (most notably associated with weapons), and the texturing is, for the most part, appropriate and varied. Probably the best part of the graphics is that the game runs very smoothly and very quickly, even in the multi-player modes!
The audio portion of Forsaken 64 is also good. The background music, unfortunately, is nearly 100% monaural. (A few songs have a couple of samples that separate from the center channel.) All of the tracks are techno-based and are some of the better ones on the system. But there is a problem in which many of the tunes get repetitive rather quickly. The sound effects, on the other hand, are amazing. The weapon sounds, which are loud and clear, come out in full stereo sound and even provide aural clues about your enemy's location. You'll also find some neat, fitting voice in the game -- during the story if you let the demo run and when you start a game for the first time.
Before wrapping up, there are a few annoying quirks in Forsaken 64 that, as a whole, probably bring down the game a little. First of all, when turning on the power each time, you're forced to watch 30 seconds of company logos and advertisements. Why can't I skip through them? Apparently there is a way around this by pressing reset after turning the power on. Second, saving in the game sucks. Why can I only save every fourth level or so? The game is hard enough as it is. Apparently you can get around this by completing the Temple level and going back to save there, because once you beat a level, you can go back and play any previous ones. Third, there isn't a radar or a map in the game. A radar would probably ruin the multi-player mode a little, but it's like you're going on a kamikaze mission without one in the single-player mode. Fourth, there aren't any in-game attributes listed for the various bikes, so how am I supposed to know which is good for what and what is good for which? Fifth and finally, there is pretty much no story to the game. Like so many other games, it would have been nice if the designers developed the story more.
If you like challenging, action-packed games, then you can't go wrong with Forsaken 64. There's not much brain power needed here, but there is a need for commanding the control scheme and sharpening the reflexes. It's not exactly GoldenEye in space, but it's a suitable alternative to the numerous 3D shooters out there. Whether you liked Turok, GoldenEye, or Star Fox 64, you should probably give Forsaken 64 a try. There's a lot to the one-player mode here, and the multi-player mode ranks as one of the best on the system. Yes, Forsaken 64 is actually a game that takes advantage of the N64, yet provides a surprisingly long-lasting gaming experience.
Graphics: 4.2 out of 5
Sound: 3.9 out of 5
Control: 4.0 out of 5
Gameplay: 4.1 out of 5
Replay Value: 4.2 out of 5
Overall: 4.1 out of 5