I apologize about missing this yesterday, I guess I got caught up in the holiday. I thought Transformers was excellent BTW, not a perfect movie but it certainly was worth it. I think before the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that Transformers was my favorite cartoon. Anyways today’s review has nothing to do with either of those cartoons which have had games made for them, but instead one arcade game that I mastered to the point where I could be it in about 12-13 minutes without ever getting hit. I’m no longer that skilled but I still enjoy the game so here’s Crisis Zone!
Crisis Zone by Namco
A group of terrorists, led by Derrick Lynch, have attacked Garland Square outside of London, which has a shopping mall, an office complex and park. It is up to you and your trusty submachine gun to stop them.
Crisis zone is actually the third game in the ‘Crisis’ series, preceded by Time Crisis and Time Crisis 2. Some consider it Time Crisis 2.5 while others say it should never be placed next to any of the TC games. The unique aspect that sets this title apart from the others is the submachine gun with a laser sight and tougher enemies who incorporate body armor and shields. The game still incorporates a foot pedal that is used to hide behind cover although in Crisis Zone you use a bullet-proof shield to avoid enemy fire, as opposed to any natural cover available. Like the previous TC games, you hear a quick beep and see a yellow and red circle form when they fire a shot that will hurt you so with fast reflexes one can avoid those situations. Keep in mind melee attacks that enemies use don’t offer the same warning so you probably will be a victim of their cheap shots. Dang wusses.
When the game starts you can chose to begin at one of the three areas. Mow down all of the enemies you encounter while you follow a set path until you reach the boss at the end of each level. If you finish the game on one credit, the high score table will place a star next to your initials so you can proudly brag of your accomplishment. It only saves the top 5 scores however which seems a little strange for a title that isn’t that old.
Each level only takes a few minutes to go through if you play perfectly and a few extra minutes on the boss. If done quickly the game can be completed in about 13 minutes. There are a total of four levels, the fourth only being accessible when the first three are completed. One area takes place inside of a mall, another outside in a park and the third in the office complex. Each area has it’s own unique destrucible environments which is part of the fun with this game. The physics are quite impressive – papers will flutter in the air when blasted, glass breaks realistically, walls will crumble as they should if shot by a submachine gun (not that I would know about shooting walls with submachine guns – no seriously), etc. The bosses need very generous amounts of hot lead to take down, but the battles they present can be quite fun to play and are great for showing off your sweet skills to people passing on-lookers. Because remember, girls only go out with guys with great skills! > (Image not from Crisis Zone)
The controls consist of a light-gun shaped as a submachine gun with force feedback and a footpedal. The in-game laser sight helps tremendously and it helps you feel more like a commando bent on cleaning up terrorist slime.
Graphically the game is quite impressive. It uses the System Super 23 hardware, which was 64-bit proprietary hardware by Namco. The frame rate is always high, the textures are clean and the system can throw a generous amount of polygons on the screen which makes for good character models and environments. It certainly is impressive to watch on the deluxe big-screen cabinets but it still holds up on the standard cabs. The physics were already mentioned which helps this game stand apart from console offerings of the time.
The music fits in well with the game but it isn’t really catchy, it’s more of a low background beat to set the mood for the fast paced gameplay. It’s hard to say how much it affects the overall experience when you are playing the game in the middle of a boisterous arcade. That being said the sound itself is really good, enhanced by the bass system inside the cabinet. To quote Don LaFontaine: “Where explosions are just more explosiony”.
Crisis Zone is a fun and addicting title that doesn’t worry about depth so much as it worries about offering the player the most bang for their credit. There are two cabinet versions, a small CRT version and a nice big screen version. It plays best on the big screen and if the arcade operator has made sure to keep the force feedback mechanism in the gun working. Don’t hesitate to play if you come across one at the local arcade.