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Bandits: Phoenix Rising Review
publisher: PAN Interactive
PIII 500, 128MB RAM, 32MB Video Card
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Mar 28, 03
|» All About Bandits: Phoenix Rising on ActionTrip|
It has been almost a quarter of a century since the legendary Mad Max movie serial appeared. This insane action in post-apocalyptic wastelands did extremely well with the audience, and made Mel Gibson a true Hollywood star. One of the most memorable things about these movies was the gangs of nomadic bandits and the weird patched-up armored vehicles they drove.
Night Rider! No David Hasselhoff though!
Hey, three's a crowd, so beat it!
Now if you take that action and atmosphere and put it into a PC game you get Bandits: Phoenix Rising. Grin (a Swedish based developer) made this excellent mixture of action driving simulation and third person vehicular shooter. If you ever dreamt of driving a heavily reinforced buggy with mounted cannon, this is the chance of a lifetime - hop in!
In the game, you can assume the role of Fennec and Rewdalf (pronounced Rudolf), the leaders of the Wolfpack gang, who just want to get as much loot as possible and fully enjoy life. Now, even though they are highly skilled (Fennec as a driver and Rewdalf as a marksman), their work will not always be a piece of cake. Bandits: Phoenix Rising spans over twenty missions taking place on huge rough maps, and the three available levels of difficulty should satisfy most players out there. The story unravels through the dialogue of the two main characters which is filled with fresh humor (btw, Rewdalf is a Scotsman with a strong accent) which improves the overall in-game atmosphere. The missions are versatile and range from simple theft to taking a truck convoy and escorting it through enemy territory, racing members of enemy gangs, and looting trains. Still, in order to finish any mission, you will have to kill most of the enemies, which means a looot of shooting!
Thanks to the simple interface and intuitive controls, finding your way through this game is very easy. You will need to use both your mouse and keyboard for moving around. The small radar at the top of the screen will show you your location on the map, where your friends are, and whether there are any enemies near. Before you start each mission you can listen to the briefing, followed by the unavoidable tips like "Don't drink and drive" or "If the game runs slow, buy a better computer" etc.
Right before the mission, you get to pick the vehicle and weapons you want to use; after a couple of unsuccessful attempts you will find your ideal combination. Thanks to a relatively large number of both vehicles and weapons, you will always find something useful for any mission... BUT, you first have to provide for all those vehicles and weapons by stealing them from others. Weapons include machine-guns, cannons, grenade launchers and many other. The machine-gun has unlimited ammo which comes in real handy when the enemy completely surrounds you. Apart from the ammo, you will have to find and collect armor bonuses, which will prolong your existence on the map. These are usually well hidden, and it will take you some time to find them. Camera functions pretty well, and the game also has zoom commands which shouldn't be used under any circumstances as it hinders visibility and gives you a better look at the less than perfect textures.
AI is pretty good, and it will give you a lot of trouble; the enemies will keep charging at you and performing various maneuvers in order to avoid your fire. Fair play is, of course, right out. You can run into an enemy vehicle, flip it over, and while the driver tries to get back in, gun him down. If you play the game on the hardest level, you will have a really hard time winning, as the enemies just keep coming from all possible directions.
The graphics are altogether very good, but the terrain could have had a couple of dozen polygons more, and the introductory cut-scenes could have been better. The terrain textures look fairly monotonous, but then again, having these guys running around motley flowery gardens and parks would seem a bit ridiculous.
The game uses the GRIN 3D engine, which supports all the latest graphical bells and whistles, making explosions look impressive and vehicle models highly detailed. The damage model is pretty simple - car models won't get distorted after a hit, but you will get to see their parts flying around after you finish them off... which bring us to the main trump of this game - the physics model. All vehicles will move just as if they were real, adapting to the terrain's shape and texture; all slides and skid-marks seem absolutely real. I was so thrilled by the physics engine that I spent hours driving around the map with no enemies, just for the fun of it.
The music is just what it should be. Some twenty MP3 tracks ranging from heavy rock to funky will follow you through the game enhancing game dynamics and pumping that adrenalin as they should.
This game is of course, ideal for multiplayer, so you will be able to play Deathmatch or Team Deathmatch games over LAN Internet (Gamespy Arcade).
Finally, we are well aware that this game has a very simple story, but thanks to the crazy action, a competent AI and great graphics and music, it managed to create an interesting and involving atmosphere which will make you eagerly anticipate what comes next. Fans of vehicular shooters will just love it!
8.0 Very Good
Action, good graphics, great physics model, music, catchy dialogue;
Monotonous terrains; can get pretty difficult at times. Bandits could've definitely benefited from a more engaging story, even despite its genre limitations.
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