The first five minutes spent playing Slave Zero are jaw dropping. Eye-popping 3D graphics bring home a sense of scale that's somehow absent from most giant-robot games. You truly feel huge piloting your stolen Slave unit, crushing cars and unfortunate pedestrians as you stomp through a vertical urban sprawl right out of Blade Runner.
The problem is that within five minutes of firing up the game, you'll have experienced everything it has to offer. The next fifteen or so hours of gameplay are repetitious going on monotonous, before they become downright maddening.
Slave Zero isn't only the game's title; it also refers to the colossal Slave unit that you pilot throughout the game. Obviously inspired by popular anime, Slaves are towering, bipedal robotic creations armed with devastating weaponry. Slaves are also alive: they're actually cybernetic creatures that are grown into exoskeletons and powered by Dark Matter. A Slave's pilot doesn't just hop into a cockpit; he partakes in a permanent, symbiotic bond with the behemoth that is referred to as "becoming one."
The game's main character, Chan, has just become one with Slave Zero, which was stolen from the SovKhan Corporate Dynasty. SovKhan rules the world from the colossal Megacity S1-9, which serves as an enormous factory that produces both Slaves and Sentinels which are big fighting robots minus the biological aspects. Chan serves the Guardians, an ancient clan of warriors whose current agenda is to shut down SovKhan and destroy Megacity S1-9, freeing the world from both oppression and pollution.
It's too bad that the game squanders such a promising background story. Slave Zero could have been a great action/adventure but, save for occasional voiceovers and cut-scenes, the game is more of an Arcade shooter than anything else.
Slave Zero is okay in very small doses. In fact, if the look and feel of the levels varied just the slightest bit, this would be a very nice game. Fabulous 3D graphics and sound frame the frenetic action. The controls are responsive and camera management is nicely done, which is a high compliment to any third-person shooter. Roaming through a live city, rife with traffic and destructible buildings is downright fun. You can even pick up and throw cars and pedestrians (whose bodies stick to walls!) and stomp your SUV-sized feet to create ravaging shock waves.
The weapons are varied and interesting. You can only have three armaments at any time: a projectile weapon, an energy weapon and a missile weapon. As you progress through the game and grab power-ups the capability of each of the weapons changes, becoming more effective and destructive. Projectile weapons, for example, range from a simple machine gun to multi-barreled mini-guns to an overwhelming siege cannon.
Enemies are less intriguing. Nearly all of them consist of humanoid robots that vary in size and weaponry. They become heartier and better armed and armored as the game progresses, offsetting your developing arsenal.
The more you play Slave Zero, the less appealing it is. After those magical first moments, the action dissolves into a never-ending pattern: move into area, blow up all the robots, pick up the power-ups, repeat. The plot never lives up to the promise set forth in the back-story; soon, you could not care less about Chan, the Guardians and all the poor critters dying on the polluted landscape, which you never get to see anyway.
You can come pretty close to experiencing Slave Zero to its fullest -- for free -- by playing the demo thirty times. If you get tired of it, just think of the money you saved.
Graphics: Awe inspiring at first, the graphics quickly become mundane as you're exposed to level after level of repetitive scenery.
Sound: An excellent techno score augments well-implemented sound effects (complete with across-the-board 3D support) and solid voice acting.
Enjoyment: Addictive at first, the repetitive action becomes tedious very quickly.
Replay Value: There's no instant-action mode, no multi-player support and the single-player game is linear and monotonous.
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Soldier of Fortune, Sinistar Unleashed, Spider-Man, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six, Resident Evil, Speed Busters: American Highways (a.k.a. Speed Devils), Sin, SkyNET
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