You are a human, who has been abducted from earth by an alien master race. They have taken you, along with some of your comrades, to fight against other aliens put in the same position as you, for the master races' amusement. Basically whoever loses has their planet wiped out, so obviously you have some pretty pissed off, anxious, desperately tough competition. If, however, you do win each fight against 3 other aliens from each race, you will save planet earth from mass destruction, for the time being. You continue in this manner until you either die, or face the master race themselves. The premise of this game actually sounded to me like it might be uniquely enjoyable, however there are a few quirks which you have to play the game to find.
The graphics in the game are honestly nothing special. They aren't awful, but they aren't great. The game employs a few nice effects in some instances, but then in others it lets them slip. An example would be fog. The game has a nice ground fog effect where you have little clouds of fog very close to the walls, all with transparency, but then there is also 'sort-of' distance fog which in essence is simply a gray wall a few hundred yards in front of the ship. This was very disappointing, and took away from the feel of doom and gloom that a game like this needs. There were other problems though, with the graphics, that took away from the feel of total immersion: an unsophisticated graphics engine pumping out relatively blocky textures (in comparison to more contemporary space combat games), few special effects (explosions, sparks etc. were missing) low/no accelerator optimization, bad lighting effects, all around outdated look. Keep in mind, though, that graphics don't always make or break a game, it all comes down to...
Gameplay folks, that's where its at, and this game is confused as to where 'it' exactly is. Unfortunately, this game gave me the feeling that it was rushed together in time to meet a release date, which is odd because I hadn't heard of it until a few days ago when I saw its ad in a magazine. All of the gameplay takes place in arenas, and they all seem to be very similar in layout, however they will have a different theme/color. This repetition of bridges and places to hide within a cylindrical arena made for relatively predictable gameplay, which was however by no means 'easy'. Putting aside the poor level layout, the enemies you must stave off to save planet Earth are very wily. I found myself getting completely turned around by the aliens as they constantly try to get in behind you. There are also different ships for you to chose from, each having their own strengths and weaknesses in speed, firepower etc. The ships can be very well pitted against each other, and an even nicer feature was the ability to choose which ships your wingmen get to fly. Each alien race in Dead Reckoning has their own abilities and faults, as do the ships, and before each battle, you are given a briefing on the races' history. This wasn't much of a help really in terms of gameplay, but it did show an attempt at enhancing the plot further. Not much can be said for ingenuity in controls, they are basically the same as every other tunnel flier out there; numeric 8,4,6,2 control direction, 7,9 control roll, a,z control speed.
Sound in Dead Reckoning was pretty standard, the weapons each had their own individual sounds, there was stereo, but nothing outstanding. Speech was present, but a lot of it was unnecessary alien mumbo-jumbo which could have been replaced by perhaps a human voice giving tips on which race you would face next.
People who downloaded Dead Reckoning have also downloaded:
Day of The Pharaoh (a.k.a. Nil The Living God), Deadlock: Planetary Conquest, Deadline (1995), Deadlock II: Shrine Wars, Dark Tower, D-Day: America Invades, Darwinia, Democracy
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