Playstation Developer:BandaiPublisher: Studio 3
Today's games are getting more and more complex. With this, the need for reading the manual is becoming almost paramount. I see this as a good thing to be honest; after all, the more a game gets you involved the better right?
But there's another half of me that just wants to shove in the CD and get stuck in. Not caring for any plot, I just want to go about madly shooting anything that moves! Silent Bomber is one such game.
The plot, for all it's worth, involves Jutah Fate and his battle against evil forces, hell bent on taking over the world. Cue much maniacal laughter. That really is pretty much it.
At the end of the day, the need for a storyline here is totally redundant. Silent Bomber is a raw arcade style bomb the hell out of everything fest. What you get as a result is a game oozing with gameplay.
The game begins with a brief piece of FMV setting the scene. Not the most stunning of intros, but you really don't find yourself caring for any resemblance of plot anyway. You'll be forgiven for thinking that Jutah is a girl incidentally!
Once at the menu, you can opt to head straight into the action, load a previously saved game or set up a two-player deathmatch. Be warned the game can only be saved between each mission. With the ever-increasing difficulty you are advised to save wherever possible.
You can also visit the 'Options' menu if you want to disable the captions. I personally found these got annoying after a while. From the same menu you can also redefine the pad keys, alter the screen position and audio settings.
Once you're ready to roll, another FMV sequence rolls, but by now you'll be chomping at the bit wanting to get into the thick of the action!
The training mission is a good place to start. This will teach you how to perform basic bomb placement, and bomb targeting. You have got to learn both of these skills if you are to have any chance of survival.
Initially you will only be able to place 2 bombs at a time. These can be dropped individually, or stacked. A stacked set of bombs will do more damage to a construction or enemy than if they were individually placed. Make sure you get out of the way of your own blasts though, as you will take damage too!
Most ground-based enemies can be taken care of by laying then detonating the bombs. When you come across the flying nasties though, you will need to target them. In targeting mode, a blue wireframe arc projects out from you. This narrows and turns yellow when you can fire a bomb at a target. Once fired, the bomb sticks to the target, and remote detonation can be carried out.
You will also find this targeting method useful for the bigger enemies. Along with bombs in your arsenal, you will also be able to pick up three liquid power-ups - napalm, electricity and gravity. Napalm when dropped makes a nice bed of fire for your enemies to sleep in. Electricity causes an enemy to become stunned, making it easier for you to target your bombs. Gravity generates a vortex to where the nasties will be sucked, enabling you to bombard them while trapped! Nice.
You will also discover E-Chips. When used these can upgrade the amount of bombs you can drop, strengthen your armour or lengthen the targeting range of your arc.
Controlling Jutah is extremely easy. It needs to be too, as it isn't uncommon to be faced with 10 or more enemies and gun-turrets. It's fortunate then that Jutah is able to jump athletically around the levels.
Sometimes a simple jump is not enough. This is where the burst drive comes in handy. When you jump, simply press the jump key again, and Jutah will burst at top speed in the desired direction.
At the beginning, things start off at a fairly leisurely pace. Your only adversaries are fairly dumb green starfish type critters. Targeting and picking these off is easy. As you complete each mission though, things get progressively harder - as you'd expect.
Along the way, you'll meet the mechanoids with luminous green beating sticks! These whiz around at a lightning pace, making them both hard to target and to avoid. There are also flying nasties to deal with. Perhaps the most impressive thing is the sheer size of some of the mechanoids. Jutah is only a little tiny speck on the screen compared to some of the formidable opponents.
Care must be taken to watch your energy level. Once this burns down to zero, that's it. No additional lives to carry on with. Instead, you will only be asked whether you wish to continue. You then have to restart the failed mission. This can be quite infuriating if you've got most of the way through a level. A big plus point for the game is that it doesn't deter me from persevering, with its addictive qualities shining through.
Graphics and Sound
To say Silent Bomber is action packed is a bit of an understatement. With levels crawling with nasties, and objects exploding everywhere you could forgive a little bit of sluggish frame-rate. The reality is, there's no slow down in the slightest. This game cruises along in even the busiest of fights.
Not only does it play fast, it looks superb too. The levels are all nicely designed, with each new section being a little different from the last. For the majority the game is viewed from a removed third person perspective. Sometimes this has you wanting to see just a little further ahead to see what else is looming. In the main though, it works perfectly.
Characters are all nicely rendered. Jutah's white mop of hair is always clearly visible in amongst the carnage, as too are his arm mounted bomb dispensers! Some of the larger mechs are an absolute joy to look at, with moving parts fluently unfolding or rotating.
Sound is as you'd expect .. loud! Huge explosions as structures give in to your bombing persuasion. The charging up of the enemy's larger weapons is a sound you'll come to fear. Smaller arms are all futuristic sounding and really add to the wonderful assault on the ears.
To be honest I had to go back and play the game to even see if there's music! The frenetic action and huge sounds really drown it all out. The tunes are purely functional and quite simplistic, but the odd thing is you'd miss them if they weren't there!
The only downside to all of this is the quite laughable voice acting during the FMV scenes and in-game. The actors wouldn't be out of place in the original Star Trek! Again though, you barely have time to even acknowledge what they're waffling on about anyway.
Since getting my grey box, I've wanted a raw and gutsy arcade shooter. Something to take you back to the days where a storyline really was unheard of. Silent Bomber is that game.
With super fast graphics, audio to annoy most neighbours, and some of the most unfair enemy assaults you'll witness, the game simply rocks!
Silent Bomber also features a two-player deathmatch style VR arena, allowing you to be certain characters and bosses from the game. Unfortunately, I was unable to check this out in time for the review, merely having a cursory nose around. I can't help feeling the game would've been better served with a Fighting Force style co-operative mode for 2-players, but it's by no means a spoiler.
The game will certainly keep you busy for a while with 14 missions plus the training level. My only reservation is how much you'll play it once completed. I have done, and I don't really see myself playing it again on a regular basis, excellent though it most certainly is.
After all is said and done though, Silent Bomber is massive fun, and well worth shelling your hard earned cash on. Go on treat yourself.
What The Scores Mean
- July 7th