NUON Game Review
Falling at 150 mph without a parachute has never been so much fun!
It is the year 3050 A.D. Mankind has laid waste to the once beautiful planet called Earth and is forced to sneek accomodation elsewhere. Huge, sky-bound cities now dominate and environmentally controlled stratosphere. The increase in city population has also led to an increase in crime. Gangster syndicates are taking over and are forming a dark new order. There is only one hope for justice - an elite core of uncorruptible law enforcers to protect and to serve. They are our only hope. They are our only future...
You are Commander Alexander Menon of the Drop Corps. At your disposal is a state-of-the-art defense suit, equipped with parallel lasers, grenades, airbrakes and anti-grav boots; it is all you have to keep the peace.
Scared? Who wouldn't be...
TAKS brings us its first title for NUON, FreeFall 3050 A.D. This game sees you as Alexander Menon, a Commander of the Drop Corps out to save the skies for the well being of mankind - and there's really no other game like it. You start the game off by dropping out into a thunderous cloud-filled sky as you make your way to the city. Along the way you use grenades, homing missiles, shields and a variety of other special weapons to take out the bad guys and save the joydivers. This game is not for the squeamish. The somewhat complex control scheme (which works great once you get the hang of it) is enough to turn casual gamers off, while the difficulty even on the normal setting will challenge even the most harcore gaming freaks. But this isn't all bad, considering there are only 4 missions (with 15 levels in total) - you wouldn't want to blow through this game in one evening, would you? There are also 4 helpful training missions to let you come to grips with the controls and objectives of the game; something that was definitely useful when getting started out.
Each mission consists of four parts (except for Mission 4, in which parts 1 and 2 are combined for continuity). A Skyfall, which has you up in the air falling towards a city, a Cyber City, which (obviously) sees you falling through a tunnelized (is that a word?) sky city, a Gateway that has plasma walls and other obstacles to avoid, and the dreaded Endzones. The Endzones consist of thermal currents of differing intensities which you must navigate in order to make it to the landing pad at the end. These can get brutally hard as you have very little oxygen, and have to be *very* careful with your health and shields in order to make it to the end successfully. The kicker is that you don't get a level password until the end of the EndZone, so if you bite the big one here, you'll have to start over at the SkyFall. A mid-level password on an Easy or even the Normal difficulties would have served to make this game more player-friendly.
This game has some killer FMV. The first of its kind on NUON, the mid-game DVD-resolution FMV sets the missions up nicely, while the lengthy opening sequence sets up the storyline for the game. The in-game graphics could be better, some anti-aliasing or filtering would do the slightly-jaggy graphics nicely (apparently this shouldn't be a problem in future games, due to an updated SDK), but overall things look decent. There's plenty of color but some of the missions just seem sparce - some more landscape and atmosphere would have been nice. The characters design is pretty good (I like the one guy with the huge lightning gun the best), and the missions are definitely very ingenious and nicely diversified. I won't give anything away, but there's no lack of new and interesting things to do on each level.
Some excellent techno-rave tunes thump along as you plummet through the skies and fit the game perfectly. We're talking near-T3K goodness here, I caught myself tapping my toes along once or twice (when the action wasn't too intense) which is a rarity for most video game music. Lightning crashes, baddies yell "Yahoo!" and buzzers and alarms go off, all very fittingly, to accompany the action. Some of the samples are semi-cheesy but for the most part they're well-done.
It's a rare occasion to have a completely original game concept these days. FreeFall is not an updated classic, it's not a FPS, RTS or RPG. It's straight-up action that is unrelenting. An amazingly fun game despite the fact that most will be turned off by it's difficult play. But, those that stick with it will find a rewarding and satisfying experience that, when conquered, will remind you why you play video games.
Graphics - 6.5
Sound/Music – 9
Control – 7.5
Fun Factor – 8
Overall (not an average) – 82%
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