With 'Forsaken,' technology and innovation blend seamlessly

June 01, 1998|By Aaron Curtiss | Aaron Curtiss,LOS ANGELES TIMES

Based solely on the sexy ad campaign for "Forsaken," it's easy to imagine the game being sold in a plain brown wrapper. A sweaty, sultry brunette stands in a desolate black-and-white landscape wearing only a tattoo - a heart wrapped in barbed wire and skewered with a dagger.

Various images - all carefully cropped - feature the tattoo in different spots. A cheek here. A neck there. The navel in one. Thigh. Chest. You get the idea. The wording is the same in each: "The future is Forsaken."

That may be true in the tightly wound universe of the game. But if the 360-degree-view "shooter" by publisher Acclaim is any indication of future video games, no player anywhere should feel forsaken. As development costs rise and the industry consolidates, the result should be more jaw-dropping games like "Forsaken."

To be honest, "Forsaken" is short on true innovation. But when technology blends as seamlessly with play as it does in a visceral game such as "Forsaken," the good times overshadow any complaints about story or plot. "Forsaken" screams with "Descent"-like action that sets a new standard for clean, fast graphics. Even without an accelerator, "Forsaken" delivers smooth flight and nonstop combat in beautiful caves and tunnels.

The game begins a year after an experiment goes wrong and leaves Earth a barren wasteland, open to "freeloading scum" who scavenge on its remains. Players pick their scum and set off in search of bounty on some souped-up anti-gravity bikes.

Tunnels snap into view and enemies - from levitanks and security bots (robots) to "lazer bots" and slug turrets - linger in the darkness, waiting to unload on unwitting players.

Scenery flows so smoothly on a machine with hardware acceleration that it's easy to forget this is a computer game.

Despite its "mature" rating, "Forsaken" permits parents to turn off the most objectionable content, such as strong language. The violence is no worse than in "Descent" - lots of explosions but no graphic human suffering. Just keep tots away from the box and the sexy "Forsaken" calendar stuffed inside.

The game requires a Pentium 166 with 16 megabytes of RAM. However, at least 32 megabytes is recommended for smoother play.

Pub Date: 6/01/98

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