Friday, December 23, 2005

Acamar Rising Review

Acamar Rising, developed and published by Beteo Software and Games.
The Good: Fast pace and constant action, weapon upgrades are based on performance, some interesting bonuses, fairly long
The Not So Good: Imprecise and laggy controls make controlling ships extremely difficult, background graphics could have been a lot better, 3-D detracts from overall experience
What say you? A classic 2D side-scroller in 3D with control issues: 4/8

Remember the days of simple games where you were instructed to shoot everything in sight? No storylines, no complex rules, just run/fly/swim and shoot. The side-scrolling shooter has almost gone by the wayside, as more sophisticated 3-D gamers have become in vogue these days, mostly due to the increased power of PCs. Ah, but what if you could adapt the gameplay from a side scrolling action game and include the prominent third dimension? Acamar Rising strives to achieve this goal.

The graphics in Acamar Rising look good up close, but worse the farther you move away from them. The individual ships are well detailed, complete with appropriate lights and other niceties. The backgrounds, strangely enough, are not detailed at all, and it seems strange to have good-looking elements against a low resolution, poor quality background. Most space games usually can deliver unrealistic but spectacular space images, but for some reason Acamar Rising does not. The foreground and background do not meld together, rather resulting in an implausible feel to the graphics. The sound is limited in nature: there is a small number of effects and voice over work, nothing that you would consider astounding. The budget nature of Acamar Rising certainly rears its ugly head in the graphics and the sound.

Acamar Rising takes place in 3-D environments where you shoot enemy ships (or other objects) in order to clear a level. There is just the campaign to complete: no multiplayer or other training/skirmish modes. The money that you earn from destroying ships is used to buy better weaponry, which is a lot better than semi-randomly getting better weapons through power-ups, which is what most games do. There are bonuses in Acamar Rising, but they are mostly time-restricted smaller benefits such as invincibility or rapid fire. The user interface could be better: a game that uses 3-D needs to make it easy to navigate the maps, and Acamar Rising doesn’t do this. The minimap is in 2-D, so if you rotate yourself, you can get disorientated very easily. Enemy ship locations are also not indicated if they happen to be off-screen; most games clearly indicate this, but Acamar Rising does not. In fact, the 3-D nature of the game actually makes it unnecessarily difficult to play, and the game would probably be better in 2-D. Just because you can have three dimensions doesn’t mean you should. Adding to the frustration of the game is the sloppy control scheme. The mouse and keyboard controls are imprecise to say the least. Controlling your ship with the mouse is an exercise in frustration: the movement of the mouse and actual movement of the ship are lagged, resulting in unsatisfying control. The ship also can whip around if you navigate the in-game menu using the mouse, as the game seems to interpret selecting options on a menu as intended movement of a ship. It would have been much easier to relegate the controls to two dimensions, but we’re left with unpolished controls in a 3-D world.

Acamar Rising is a fairly average shooter with inferior controls. Most everything in the game we’ve seen before, so Acamar Rising doesn’t really offer anything new to the table to differentiate itself from other titles. The graphics are average, usually a hallmark of small, independent developers wanting to have a fresh take on the space shooter. The controls have some problems, making it difficult to navigate through the game’s levels. Overall, Acamar Rising is an indistinctive space shooter that can be skipped by most gamers.