Barrage Download (1998 Arcade action Game)

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Barrage sounds like a lot of fun on paper. You jet around large levels in a hovercraft blowing up anything and everything you see. The catch is you have to do things in a specific time frame. The clock is always ticking against you and there are goals to be met.

Each level takes place in a different geographical location such as a canyon or city. The levels are grand in scale and give you lots of freedom to complete them. In some levels, you'll have to fly around pillars that have been set up. If you do so successfully, you'll get time added to your grand total. Also strewn about are hourglass pick-up items that add time to the clock. Your power meter works against you. Each time you get hit or run into something, the meter goes down. Once your power has been completely drained, you are hit with a ten-second penalty and it is deleted from your overall time.

You are supplied with a nice arsenal of weapons. There are lasers and plasma guns to use; you'll need them to fight end-level bosses as well as fend off your foes. Basically, you get a new weapon every level, which is a nice design feature.

So far, so good, right? Unfortunately, there is one significant problem keeping Barrage down and that is the control. Controlling this game is very frustrating; the mouse control is horribly flawed. Not only is it slow and sluggish but it is almost impossible to line up shots and hit anything with accuracy. You'll have to rely on luck far too often.

Also, the multi-player support is very disappointing. It's pretty much a straightforward death match in which you fly around aimlessly while looking for random targets or foes to hit.

Because of the poor control, it is almost impossible to hit anything with accuracy. The developers tried to justify themselves in the instruction manual but I don't see the point. If you go through all the trouble to make a game in the first place, why would you want to make it absolutely frustrating to control?

What you're left with is a game that could have been a world of fun but is marred with abysmal controls and boring, poor multi-player support. There are far better shooters out there than this one. If you can find it in the bargain bin at your local software store and are a shooter fan, then you may want to look at this game. For everyone else, pass on it.

Graphics: The frame rate is solid and the game engine is fast. The graphics are also pleasantly detailed and look nice.

Sound: All of the sound effects, such as explosions, really sound good and the soundtrack is fairly good.

Enjoyment: Because of horrible controls, Barrage is a real turn-off in the enjoyment department. It's not very fun trying to ignore the unresponsive and sluggish controls while trying to be at least somewhat accurate (which you need to be at times).

Replay Value: Unfortunately, the game just isn't fun enough to hold your attention very long and the multi-player support is weak.

Barrage is an excellent but little-known 3D shooter created by small developer Mango Grits, the same team behind two outstanding "rail shooters/adventure hybrids" Cyberia and Cyberia 2, and published by Activision. While Cyberia fans will be delighted with the same well-designed action in Barrage, they will be disappointed to discover that the game is much shorter. Expert action gamers will be able to finish the entire game in only a few hours.

While the levels are short by action genre standards, Barrage is simply a blast to play. Piloting a futuristic aircraft, you will shoot your way through 5 levels including Prairie, Tunnel, Canyon, Chicago, and finally Ocean. Each level features its own enemies and, of course, scenery graphics, and objectives (although they are simply variants of what you need to do to activate/collect five power buoys, and always pit you against a big end-level boss). The gameplay is similar Terminal Reality's Terminal Velocity or Rage's Incoming, but in my opinion even better than both games. To lengthen the woefully short game length, you could try to play it on the highest difficulty level (there are 3 total), but even that is little consolation, because the levels are still the same length - you just face tougher and more numerous enemies.

The controls are intuitive and easy to learn. Barrage is not a strict 'rail shooter' like Cyberia or Rebel Assault, although your freedom of movement is still much more limited than real 3D games like Wing Commander. The game also includes multiplayer support, but no random levels - so the longevity problem still persists here. The levels are fun to play more than once to see if you can beat your previous high scores, or when you are pressed for time. Overall, Barrage is an excellent action game that will entertain you while you play it, but the short length makes Activision's decision to market the game as a regular-price commercial title a flawed one - and one that doubtless led to its commercial failure. Highly recommended, but don't expect a lot of play value out of this game.


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