DOS - 1996
Description of Surface Tension
Before I get started, I'd like to make a few points about the use of video footage in games. First of all, it should be used sparingly, either inbetween missions, or in the case of an adventure game, whenever you perform certain actions. Secondly, it should never be used in place of gameplay as seen in Star Trek: Borg. Using FMV 'just because you can' is neither big nor clever. And finally, if you are using FMV footage, make sure you get some decent professional actors in, because if you insist on using your gran's cousin's daughter's sister, who can't act for toffee, you end up taking away rather than adding to the game's atmosphere. And the same applies to voice-overs. This lesson should be taken to heart by the folks at Compro Games.
Why? Well, because their latest game, Surface Tension uses a fair amount of video footage, both in the intro sequence, and within the game itself, as well as giving you mission updates in the form of voice-overs. And they are, in general, cack. A quick glance at the credits section of the manual reveals that some folks credited with things like 'management', and 'sound tracks' also appear in the 'actors' section of the credits. Oh dear. For all I know, they may have had acting experience, but they must have had one hell of a off day. Even the girl who briefs you in the game sounds thoroughly bored with the whole affair. Not a good sign.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. I'd better explain a little about the plot first, which is particularly unremarkable. There is a particularly nasty virus doing the rounds on Earth, killing people off, and things aren't looking good. There is a cure, but it's on some far off moon, and is being monopolized by a big corporation. Funny that; by my estimation there must be about 951 of these giant corporations in the future, each intent on opressing, destroying, or controlling the entire universe in some way. Similarly, there has to be about 104 different 'lone pilots' ready to strap themselves into their experimental fighter-craft, and rise against these corporations. Why they never actually band together is a mystery to me. You of course play one of these pilots, attempting to ensure the safe passage of the cure to earth.
This involves low-level flying around the surface of various planets, destroying enemy craft and bases, and gathering the odd pick-up. You have various weapons at your disposal, and your craft is protected by a shield system, which gradually recharges, but loses energy when you're hit. Take enough damage and you're toast. You also have at your disposal, a small probe which can be dropped and used to collect information and extra ammo.Complete your mission objectives, and it's on to the next level, where you do the same thing again. There's a slight problem, though. You see, Surface Tension is complete and utter rubbish.
Load of arse
For a start, things are so repetitive. Shoot this, fly here, shoot this, fly here. Drop your probe, shoot this, fly here. That's if your probe actually works. Half of the time the game won't let you drop it because you are told you are 'too high'. Except that you can be sitting on the ground, and still get that same message. And that's on top of the whole repetiveness of the game. Then there's the graphics. The game runs in SVGA mode, which is supposed to give clearer and sharper graphics than standard VGA mode. Except in Surface Tension, because the graphics are horifically blocky and blotchy. It's almost impossible to tell what an object is, until you're almost touching it, and even then it's not always clear. And you don't want to have to fly straight up to an enemy aircraft to identify it. Even the 'buildings' look like big brown hills, for flip's sake!
And the sound effects are no better. Apart from the aforementioned dodgy voice-overs, the sound effects are grating; hitting a ship results in a noise like someone slapping their hand against a pan. Not the game's best feature. The game doesn't have any redeeming features at all. This is the worst game I've played for quite a while. I could go on for ages about the game's faults, but I'll just say that Surface Tension is boring, repetitive, appalling dross, and you shouldn't even think about it. Next!
Review By GamesDomain
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