I hate months like this. You wait ages for something good to come along, and then you get about four or five brilliant games in one go. Makes us reviewers look like a right bunch of pillocks, I can tell you. It's all very good fun having loads of great games coming in at once, but it doesn't do our credibility any good.
Just you wait, I bet next month there'll be nothing. Not one good game. But this month we're packed full of Gamer Golds. Typical, innit? Anyway, enough of this selfish journo whining and on to RoboCop 3. And lo and behold, it's brilliant.
It's based around the forthcoming Robocop 3 movie, which has yet to see the light of day either here or in the States. A bit of a first there then, the film licence coming before the film. Of course, this means that we'll all know exactly what happens in the film before it even comes out. The price you pay for entertainment, eh?
Another first is Ocean's pirate-beating 'dongle'. This plugs in to the second joystick port and the game won't work without it. It does mean that two-player games are a bit tricky, but that isn't a problem as this is strictly a one-player affair. The only drawback I can foresee is that the dongle is fairly small. As you'll have to unplug it when you want to play something else, there's a very real danger of either breaking or losing the little fella. So let's be careful, right kids?
And the game is a bit different in other ways as well. Ocean have been teasing us with 3D screenshots for ages now, so we knew all along that RoboCop 3 was going to mark a distinct change in direction for them.
You see, RoboCop 3 takes the form of a true interactive movie. Not like Ocean's ill-fated attempt at a Cinemaware-type affair with Nightbreed, but a proper movie in which you take the role of the eponymous Robo and become embroiled in the usual mix of corrupt corporations and crazy street gangs.
Thanks to a revolutionary new 3D syste, the game feels arcadey but has enough depth to make it anything but run-of--
If you go for the movie option, which is the best, then you'll be presented with the now familiar fizzogs of Casey Wong and Jess Perkins. They then churn out the latest news, John Craven style, and this leads you into the game. You know the sort of thing - an ironic and handy scene-
So you switch to RoboCop's steel keks and start driving around Detroit chasing some stolen van or other. A bit like that part in the first tilm, actually. Pretty soon though, you get a message flashing up on your visor to go and help out Officer Anne Lewis who's got herself in a right old mess.
She's being held hostage in an old warehouse by the beastly Splatter-punks. Gasp! So RoboCop drives up, jumps out of his car and stomps inside to rescue her in another display of 3D japery. And so it goes on.
Basically, it's just a series of 3D arcade sections, all interlinked. It's not as repetitive as it sounds though, 'cos the sections range from smooth and fast driving, tense and violent shoot-outs, very tricky jet pack dogfights to a 3D punch up between RoboCop and Otomo, a Japanese RoboNinja. So a fair bit of variety splodged about then.
The real drawing point of RoboCop 3 is the fact that it's the first film tie-in where you actually feel part of the film. Atmosphere. That's the magic word here. Especially during the 'walk around and shoot the bad guys' bits. The caution required to go just around a corner, in case you're confronted by a gun-wielding Splatterpunk, is phenomenal. As a film tie-in, RoboCop 3 plops from a great height on everything else.
The 3D is excellent, with just the right balance between detail and speed. The still screens are absolutely amazing, though, with recognisable characters from the movies and some of the 3D animations overlaid onto them. Just watching RoboCop 3 in action is a treat. Playing it can be a problem to begin with. The driving section is simple enough to control, but navigating around the map can be quite a task at first. Once you get the hang of that you should have no trouble getting to the second arcade sequence which is where the real control problems appear.
When you're indoors you manoeuvre Robo by using his gun sights. So pushing forward on the joystick moves the sights up and Robo starts to move forward. Any move to the left or right makes Robo rotate on his axis until the sight is centred again. This means that upon confrontation with an enemy gunman, precious seconds are spent trying to get Robo facing in the right direction.
This has the unfortunate effect of meaning that you can lose quite a lot of energy before you get a chance to shoot back, or you might even shoot a hostage by accident as you spin around.
The slippery controls can be mastered with practice, but it does mean that the game isn't immediately appealing as it might have been. This is a minor problem though, especially when you consider just how well the game plays as a while. The cinematic feel has been captured well and really makes the game stand out from the usual film tie-in nonsense.
A worthy effort, and a welcome return to form from the past masters of movie licences. Just insert your own RoboCop cliché here to round off the review. Ta.