HOUSEMARQUE - PC
hate buying games in PC World. Unlike Electronique Boutique, they don't
let you take games back, period. They get quite stroppy about it as
well, even if you're having bona fide problems. Like when I was buggered
if I could get MotoRacer to work on my damned PC, I almost got into
a bout of fisticuffs with the glaikit assistant when he refused to swap
it. Finally, after an hour of repeating myself incessantly saying "It
doesn't work for me, I want me money back", ad infinitum I managed to
get The Reap instead. That's the last time I buy a game in there, I
With that, I took the unnecessarily huge cardboard box home and bashed
it into my PC, expecting yet another ingenuously produced western effort.
Pleasingly, my expectations were thrown willy-nilly by the wayside as
I played what must be the best PC shooter in recent years.
Being a huge shooter connoisseur, I get very critical of artlessly created
shmups. The Reap does have its niggles, but as a whole package its an
amazingly detailed and playable game. Shootemup lovers will know that
the best ones come from Japan, and we Brits and Yanks can't normally
make them for toffee. However, there's always been some codehouses in
Europe who can make a decent shooter - this one comes from Housemarque
- I don't know who the actual members are, but I'm sure they've made
a shmup before. It shows. I'll get the niggles out of the way first,
then boisterously proclaim its wonderfulness after that!
The graphics are undeniably great, but sometimes there's just one
too many lensflare and lighting effect used. It's like a novice
getting his hands on Photoshop filters for the very first time,
if you know what I mean. Coupled with the fuzziness of the interpolated
640 res mode, it gets quite confusing and sickening at times. Especially
when the screen is busy, and boy does it get busy!
Loading times are awful! I've got a fast cd, with 128MB ram, and
it still takes bloody ages! The levels are split up into 2 sections
each, in an attempt to alleviate the problem.
The control is fairly tight, but the weapon select system is not
intuitive, and you can't alter the angle of controls. What do I
mean? Well, The Reap is not dissimilar to Viewpoint in the forced
3d perspective kind of way, and it's nice to be able to change the
way the directions work.
that's really all I can fault with it, now lets find out why I think
its so good!
Do you know when you're playing a game, and it involves you totally?
The combination of frantic compulsive gameplay, super graphics and driving
music, with fabulous set-pieces and details? Yes? Then that's what The
Reap is like. I've never seen such amounts of sheer detail and rich
graphics in a shooter ever, everything moves beautifully and there's
plenty little things to distract you from the game. How about toasting
sheep and cows in the background, blowing up huge boats and trains and
hundreds of corpses explode out and fall to the ground in agony. Schools
of tiny fish swim by, and the background cogs, machines, cranes and
monorails work away as you shoot past. Tiny splashes as discarded cartridges
fall, flames spurting out of blast furnaces, old women looking for contact
lenses in the streets. It's incredible!
The enemies are relentless and there's a lot of variety in them, from
small 'intelligent' footsoldiers, to the largest submarine, hammerhead
sharks to giant buzzsaw bosses. I'm scared to think what's coming, as
I've only got to level 3 as it is! (I refuse to cheat and spoil it.)
And you've got quite a nice set of weapons to kill em all with too,
afaics there's three basic types, which can be upgraded and combined,
using a slightly cumbersome select system. The best looking one is the
fuzzy lightning one (a la Raiden 2) but it's not particularly strong.
Controls are otherwise quite simple, only two buttons are used, they
way I like it!
Aurally, it's perfect. I'm not really fond of what I call 'Doomf Doomf'
music (techno actually) but it suits The Reap down to its little cotton
socks. Spot effects are wonderful, lots of 'Aieees' and 'Aaarghs' as
you kill the wee men, and just wait until you hear the buzzsaw boss!
'BzzzshoooOOmph!!, BzzzshooOOOmph!!' :)
The Reap was only released a wee while ago, but you may be able to find
it quite cheap now. (It's not as if it's a popular type of game y'know!)
Don't pass it up if you see it!
These trains scoot by, but don't let them. Blast em and watch all
the men burst out in flames!
The background detail never lets up... it's solid wall-to-wall graphics
Just after blowing up a ship, everything blasts apart and falls
into the icy water. Lovely.
The iron foundry carries on working not giving a damn about your
presence. This part reminds me of Alien 3 for some reason. Didn't
Ripley look really stupid bald? And why were all the prisoners English?
This boss is GREAT! I smile whenever I meet him. "Hullo BuzzBoss"
I grin, readying my weapons.
YESSS!! Die, you alien Buzzmonster! Er, actually, The plot is quite
different. *I* am the alien, invading earth. Feels weird this way.
A tribute to Gradius III - aren't they beautiful! Burst em with
Hammerhead sharks attack in waves, they're almost too cute to kill.
As usual, I'll try and remember to get some more pics when I play
it next, but I never do, do I?