Robocop 3D. (computer game) (Software Review) (Evaluation)
by Scott A. May
Inspired by Orion Pictures' science-fiction thriller, RoboCop 3D unfolds in the crime-infested streets of Old Detroit. Here, the OCP Corporation plans to construct a new urban paradise, Delta City. Numerous project delays, however, threaten to cost the company billions of dollars unless it begins immediate demolition of existing buildings. When residents refuse to leave their homes, OCP sends armed Urban Rehab units to violently expel all resisters. As RoboCop, you turn renegade to help the hapless citizens and risk brutal retribution from your greedy employer.
Gameplay consists of separate Arcade and Movie sections. Arcade mode offers practice in five self-contained action scenarios: Driving, Street Fights, Hostage Rescue, Flying, and Hand-to-Hand Combat. Whether buzzing skyscrapers in simulated air combat, cruising the lunatic fringe in your police cruiser, or busting down doors to search buildings, you'll find that the designers successfully evoke the movie's gut-level sensation of danger and despair. Both driving and flying--in your experimental, combat-ready gyropack--offer the most visually dynamic action, while the so-called urban pacification scenarios prove utterly chilling. Only hand-to-hand fighting fails to excite, suffering from inadequate design and a clumsy control scheme.
Movie mode brings all game elements together in an open-ended adventure spiced with cinematic-style segues, subplots, and seedy peripheral characters. The only rules are to follow your prime directives: Protect the innocent, uphold the law, and serve the public trust. Failure to do so promptly ends your tour of duty. Movie mode offers enough variety, mystery, and explosive action to ensure repeated play. The biggest drawback, lack of a save-game option, is sadly indicative of the game's European design.
Graphics are rendered with a pleasing blend of 256-color bitmapped static screens and fast-moving 3D polygons. Though the game is considerably less detailed than others of its type, the first-person perspective and murky monotones give this virtual world its dark, jagged edge. Missing from the IBM version, unfortunately, are the spine-tingling music and sound effects that enlivened the original Amiga edition. The only other major weakness is strictly a matter of taste: Thick with violence and harsh ambiance, the game could prove too grim.
Though decidedly not for all tastes, RoboCop 3D delivers enough diverse challenges and heavy atmosphere to make it Ocean's best movie conversion yet.