You are Bruce Willis, who is Trey Kincaid, who is ready to battle against the legendary Four Horsemen of The Apocalypse. Apocalypse is another 3D shooter that is more like "One" then the first Contra game (Legacy of War). This is a game that suffered itís own Apocalypse during itís troubled development cycle and was scrapped completely, only to be reborn again with much different play mechanics then the original vision.
Originally Bruce Willisí character was to be an on-screen partner of yours, and was to tag along and help you out, all the while cracking wise. This buddy-buddy idea was entirely scrapped in favor of the game now available. Too bad. It sounds like it had some potential. As it stands now the game is an okay blast-a-thon through a futuristic world that will give you that feeling of deja vu, especially if youíve played One, Assault: Retribution and the latest Contra.
Graphically Apocalypse is pretty good. Lots of dynamic lighting and explosions, fill the screen and set the mood for this dark adventure. However, at times itís too darn dark and youíll be falling to your doom because you canít see where you are going. There are a few occasions of these unavoidable deaths that you must learn from, which is piss poor cheap game design. More on that in a sec. There are a few occasions of slight slowdown when a ton of enemies get on screen, but they are obliterated so quickly that it makes no difference.
Control is handled in a throwback to the old Smash TV games (which is the best way to describe the control). For the uninitiated, the control pad moves you, and the 4 buttons do the firing. For example, if you press the Triangle button, you will shoot ahead of you, if you press the Circle button, you will shoot to the right. It takes a while to get the hang of it, but it does tend to work quite well. It does get a tad confusing when the camera gives you a side scrolling perspective, so you are traveling to the right, but still must press triangle to fire ahead of you. Jumping is decent enough and platform jumps are not nearly as frustrating as in "One" by ASC games.
Game design leaves a little bit to be desired. I detest games that thrown in an unavoidable trap, so that you die, only to have to avoid it the next time. Which is fun when you have to start right back at the beginning of the level. I thought programmers understood that this was amateurish game design. As well, often times in Apocalypse you may die because you have no idea which way to go, so you throw caution to the wind and try to jump to a platform, but alas, that wasnít the way. And you die. YAY!
The enemy AI is stupid. They donít try to avoid you, even though you just wiped out scores of their buddies. They just run straight into that flame-thrower. You definitely get the feeling that they are just cardboard cutout bad guys with no substance. Thatís why they die so quickly. They are just simple obstacles to make the game a little harder. Look at the way the enemy AI in Metal Gear is. The impression is that the Genome soldiers are living breathing people. The enemies in this game are the polar opposite. Dumb ass robots on a suicide mission.
Soundwise this game isnít offensive, although Bruce Willisí one liners get tired quickly. How many times must I hear, "Shoot em all and let God sort em out." Not even original one liners, yet. Sheesh.
This game isnít even bug free. A couple of times, my guns got stuck on auto fire and I could only shoot ahead of me. I had to restart the game to get this to stop. You donít have to ask how much I enjoyed doing that, especially when I was so close to the end of a level. BOO HISS!
Another bone of contention is that Apocalypse was originally going to feature a tag along partner (albeit CPUY controlled) how hard would it have been to make this game two player? Just take out the ridiculous jumping parts, turn up the enemies and Shazam, youíve got carnage with a friend. But who knows, maybe Apocalypse would have been infinitely worse as a two player game...
After all is said and done, Apocalypse isnít a terrible game, itís even kind of fun in spots, as some levels are real lookers. Itís definitely renter material. Itís too bad that this sort of game just hasnít been done very well yet. Itís a dying genre that hasnít even really had a chance to flourish, thanks to the so-so offerings in itís category. Someday somebody HAS to get it right, and it will be only because of the all experimental games that dared to come before it and sacrifice themselves, like Contra, One, Assault and Apocalypse. At least they were good for something...