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Platform

Playstation 2

 

Genre

Shooter

 

Publisher

BAM! Entertainment

 

Developer

iRock Interactive

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

Q2 2002

 

 

- A truly inventive game (nice to see some new game designs)

- Very “realistic” action

- Excellent variation on the 3 factions (usable creatures)

 

 

- Unseen limits on levels mean slamming into the boundaries violently

- Some levels are merely reduced to hoarding power-ups

- Some of the textures are rather grainy for a PS2 game

 

 

Review: Rez (Playstation 2)

Review: Star Wars Jedi Starfighter (Playstation 2)

Review: Gun Metal (XBox)

 

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Savage Skies

Score: 8.0 / 10

 

With games tending to fall all over themselves looking to do something that’s been done before, only better, it’s a good change of pace to play a game that uses a new idea. The basic idea behind Savage Skies (SS) is a pseudo-D&D world where a peaceful empire is stormed and generally destroyed by a group of evil necromancers known at the Pariah. The remnants of the old empire are split into 2 groups: the Virtwyn and the Chrysalis.

 

savage-skies-1.jpg (16769 bytes)          savage-skies-2.jpg (32169 bytes)

 

The three factions are not particularly respectful of each other and war is breaking out – but in this world the battles are won in the sky and you can choose which faction to fly for. Each of the three factions represent a different difficulty level: Virtwyn are easiest, Chrysalis are intermediate, and the Pariah are the most difficult (and believe me, this is true… I was able to beat all the Virtwyn missions on one pass but the Pariah missions stopped me dead in my tracks).

 

Each of the three factions represents a playable group, each with their own inherent philosophies and flying creatures. The Virtwyn are a group that balances its existence with nature by taming beautiful and dangerous creatures for its armies such as dragons, unicorns, rocs, yomars (think flying cats), owls, and griffons. The Chrysalis were born of technology and wizardry, and because of that, they dominate nature directly by utilizing their own creations: flying eyeballs, mantas, giant insects, behemoths, a living tar-like creature, and their own dragons. The evil Pariah utilize dark magic to create their horde: demons, giant bats, flying rodents, pigs, and other sorts of terrifying manifestations. Each of the individual flying creatures have their own strengths and weaknesses, but more importantly their own attacks (each of which are more or less effective against other creatures – for example: ice beings generally can’t hurt each other too much but against fire beings….).

 

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The game play takes place in the 3rd person, which is an interesting way to try and fly – but it definitely works. The real value of this method becomes apparent once you are being fired upon from the sides and you can use the right analog stick to glance to the sides, behind, above or below your character. Each of the worlds that you fly in are unique, from barren wastelands and deserts to a castled city to flying through ice caverns or a volcano. The variation on the surroundings makes for 

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some great visuals… even if some of the surrounding textures aren’t spectacular. It’s sort of disappointing to have some great ideas just not come off as great, but that’s not to say it’s not impressive, just not as much as it could have been.

 

The action of SS can be intense in some missions, especially since they are all timed, and in some of them you can be flying at top speed away from one battle in an attempt to save something else – it certainly keeps the gamer interested with so much going on at times. The visuals of the characters are good and the “effects” such as bleeding steeds and bloody smears when a foe is defeated certainly remind you why the game is rated “M”. (I really got a kick out of the trailing blood streaks dropping out of the sky behind a crippled rider.)

 

The in-game display takes a few missions to get accustomed to, but once you do, they really help give you a better situational awareness and allow you to defend and attack more effectively. The display includes a small overhead map that shows relative positions of opponents to yourself at the center – it can be helpful in figuring out where those turrets are on the ground, but don’t forget that it’s only for the short range, enemies can and do attack you that aren’t in the “radar”. In the upper right portion of the screen is a pointer that directs you towards the primary mission goal – be it an enemy target or a defensive position. The only weakness of it is that it’s only a directional pointer. When you’re flying through a series of caves or something similar it won’t give you the directions but only point toward your destination. (Don’t ask how many dead ends I’ve flown into because I wasn’t watching where I was going.) Besides those displays are the usual ones such as health, power, number of kills… et cetera. The action of the game is augmented/hindered by the presence of old-school power-ups littering the stages. Some would say that it’s really cool to be able to get extras bonuses by flying around, but I really feel that it takes away from the strategy of the game when a player can run for it until they find enough stuff to patch themselves up.

 

savage-skies-3.jpg (33675 bytes)          savage-skies-4.jpg (32341 bytes)

 

The in-game sound is supposed to be some sort of medieval throwback, but doesn’t come off too strongly. After a few minutes of hearing the same music, some will be tempted to turn it off and just focus on the special effects, which are downright stellar. The difficulty of the game is decent, some will defeat the game with relative ease but will be hard pressed to find all of the extras and complete even the secret goals of each mission.

 

All in all, you end up with a really interesting game that some people will think is great, while others will harp on the shortcomings. Personally, I really enjoyed the title and will keep the game in my rotation until I defeat all of those missions completely with all bonuses.

 

- Tazman

(June 27, 2002)

Now I'm off to some charity BS for knocked up teenage sluts.

                                                                 - Mom (from Futurama)

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