Genetically enhanced super-humans were the Earth's emergency defence force, a kind of future SAS. Known as the Obliterators, they had been designed to be alert, brave, swift and above all, very strong. Alas, all but one have now been destroyed during action. When Earth came under attack from the most powerful ship ever built, there was no choice but to send in that last Obliterator.
Four vital components spread throughout the ship are vital to its operation. Removal of these would leave it defenceless against Earth's forces. You, as Drak, the last Obliterator must find and remove these components before making your escape.
To be honest, Obliterator is really Barbarian in space. As Barbarian was and still is one of the best games around for the Amiga, this has to be a good point in anybody's judgement. Over one hundred screens make up the play area which uses a flick-screen side-on view. A strip of icons along the bottom of the screen is used to control Drak. These allow our hero to run, pick up, defend, enter, shoot and jump. I was a little disappointed to see that Psygnosis have not improved their sprite handling routines, which are still a little slow and even jerky at times. However, this has been disguised and compensated by the incredibly dynamic-looking animation frames of Drak in action.
Each room and corridor in the ship is guarded by members of an army of semi-robotic creatures. Some sit astride android ostriches, others fire at you from hovering bucket seats, and others just blast you with shoulder-mounted bazookas. Luckily, you are not defenceless. Using the defend icon when standing sill causes Drak to press himself up against the wall, whilst defending when running initiates and spectacular roll. Four weapons are available to Drak. He starts out with a pistol, but the more powerful weapons, the rifle, blaster and bazooka have to be found. Ammo is limited and separate cartridges for each gun can also be found dotted about the ship.
As you can see, the graphics are superb throughout the game, only lacking slightly in variety. Some of the best frames can be seen when aiming a weapon. Six degrees of elevation are possible, giving a tremendous sensation of power. Some aliens cannot be destroyed with a pistol and require the power of the bigger guns. You would expect the ammunition for these to be less abundant, but their capacity is also substantially more limited. For example, the pistol can hold up to fifty shots, where as the bazooka can only hold three.
Typical of Psygnosis, Obliterator is excellently presented. A large glossy package houses the disk, which when booted treats the player to a beautifully shaded animation of Drak showing off his fire power. A pixel perfect copy of the cover artwork follows before the game starts. A poster of the artwork is also included.
Obliterator's one annoying point is that at times, Drak ignores your commands and goes off on his own rambles, sometimes ending in a fatal collision with a baddie. When compared to Barbarian, it did not give me such a strong urge to progress, maybe because in Barbarian, you knew that the next screen or two would bring on yet another new and imaginative monster. One improvement it has over Barbarian is the facility to save the game at one of several set positions.
There are a few reasonable sound effects during the game, but the atmospheric music compensates for this unusual mediocrity. Obliterator's spectacular graphics are immediately appealing, and some of the surprises later in the game prolong the attraction. My advice to Psygnosis is that they spend a good deal of time developing their sprite routines. Once they have mastered that, they will be capable of producing true arcade quality games, which must be their ultimate goal.
Nevertheless, their present release, Obliterator, keeps up Psygnosis' exceptionally high standards and I strongly recommend it as a great game to have in your collection.
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