Windows - 1996
Description of Hellbender Windows
Go to hell Bion scum!
Terminal Reality, makers of Fury 3, serve up another action game for Microsoft's game line. In Hellbender, you pilot a "Hellbender" prototype attack spaceship. Managing your ship's resources and weapons, your goal is to destroy enemy robotic invaders, the Bions. Like Star Trek - The Next Generation's Borg, the Bions are trying to annihilate humanity. In the 24 missions or levels of Hellbender, it's up to you to stop them. Hellbender supports Direct 3D technology and 3D accelerated graphics cards. Hellbender also supports multiplayer aerial combat with up to eight competitors over a LAN, four over the Internet or two via a modem.
I found that Hellbender takes some time to get used to. It's not really the many commands to memorize or the ship controls but what to do. After a while I picked up on Hellbender's vibe and the more I played it, the more I like it. Hellbender is a little like Doom or actually more like Descent. Like Doom-type games, you explore worlds and shoot things. The things in Hellbender include radar installations, enemy ships, missile bunkers, troop transports and energy depots. Hellbender is different than Doom-type games since you are flying a spaceship and there are three dimensions to worry about. Things can get quickly out of hand when you find yourself flying upside down and trying to shoot enemy ships. Hellbender includes a variety of views to fly the ship from and I found that the "chase" mode made flying much easier. From chase mode you get a much larger view. Spotting enemy ships is much easier when they are in your line of vision.
SIGHTS AND SOUNDS
Hellbender uses the latest graphics technologies and the results are impressive -- if you have the power. On my 120 Pentium machine and all of the graphics options on, I found the frame rate to be tad slow. You can get the resolution up 640 x 400, but the results are too slow. The game defaults to 320 x 400 which is kind of a disappointment after seeing the high res version. On the sound side, Gillian Anderson from the X-files plays E.V.E. (Enhanced Virtual Entity) the on-board computer. Cool! What is missing is some real engine noises. I know that sound dampening technology must improve in the future but if you turn off the soundtrack, empty space is a little too quiet for me. Speaking of the soundtrack, Hellbender streams it directly off the CD-ROM. Great sound but like many games that use this type of soundtrack, it's not long enough. A few minutes into a mission, the soundtrack cuts off for a minute and then restarts. I also found it too loud and opted to turn it off after my first few missions. Game designers should look to LucasArts for a hint on how to tie a soundtrack to the action. On Tie Fighter and other LucasArts games, the soundtracks change with the action as if you were watching a movie, not just listening to a CD track playing in the background.
I was reviewing a final beta of Hellbender and I found it to be a bit buggy. Controls went haywire on me a few times and the view commands seemed to get stuck in some kind of loop. Rebooting solved the problem but it was annoying. I'm sure these problems will be cleared up in the boxed version.
Hellbender is a fun action game if you have the systems to run it on. (These days this is quickly becoming a cliche!) If you liked Fury or Descent, you'll probably like Hellbender.
How about some cheat codes? OK, to jump from planet to planet, type AUNTEM followed by 1-8 (for example AUNTEM7). TOTLPWR makes main energy 100%. MAXMEUP makes the hull 100%. IMSTUCK skips the current mission.
Review By Games Domain
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