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Bandits: Phoenix Rising

Platform(s): Arcade, Game Boy Advance, GameCube, Nintendo DS, PC, PSOne, PSP, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox, Xbox 360
Genre: Action

About Tony "OUberLord" Mitera

I've been entrenched in the world of game reviews for almost a decade, and I've been playing them for even longer. I'm primarily a PC gamer, though I own and play pretty much all modern platforms. When I'm not shooting up the place in the online arena, I can be found working in the IT field, which has just as many computers but far less shooting. Usually.

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PC Review - 'Bandits: Phoenix Rising'

by Tony "OUberLord" Mitera on Nov. 30, 2002 @ 10:52 a.m. PST

Genre: Vehicular Combat
Publisher: PanVision/TriSynergy
Developer: Grin
Release Date: 10-Dec-2002

The world of Bandit’s is a world of devastation. In the world of the future the planet is a wasteland, and people struggle to survive. Among the dust and dunes there is a single city left standing, a huge walled fortress called Jericho City. Inside this city it is a paradise, its inhabitants live in luxury while the desert winds chew away at the large groups of people locked outside the city. In Bandits you play as Fennec, the leader of the Wolfpack clan. Along with his short sidekick Rewdalf, Fennec leads his clan into battle against other clans to try to steal oil, money, and parts. The real reward lies secure behind Jericho’s walls, an extremely large cache of solid gold bars of immeasurable wealth. Many have tried to break into Jericho to steal the gold but all have been met by the city’s nearly unstoppable defenses, shredding men and machines like paper dolls.

Throughout the game you undertake various mission for the Wolfpack clan, from engaging in friendly races with other clans to attacking them and making off with loot. The game plays something like Twisted Metal, with a little less depth, on crack. In every mission you drive a vehicle bristling with weapons, almost just like something out of the Mad Max movies. You can customize your car to a certain degree, outfitting your car with various weapons and devices before every mission. Once on the mission, you are free to move in almost any direction, something of a breath of fresh air in the genre. While some levels are set in canyons, others are set in large, relatively flat tracts of land with rolling hills, sheer cliffs, and winding paths. All in all, while you always have a waypoint marker on your radar telling you where to go, it’s always fun to go baha-ing across the desert for a while. The physics engine is a little off kilter, cars don’t really react the way they would in real life, but Bandits isn’t really meant to be a serious or realistic game.

Of course, wandering around and ramping off of dunes in the wasteland won’t help you complete your objectives which, more often than not, involve you obliterating enemy vehicles. Enemies range from the tiny dune buggy-esque vehicles to large, rumbling behemoths. Combat in the game is relatively fast pased, with combatants driving around trying to dodge enemy fire while dishing out their own brand of punishment. Weapons will deform the terrain, which serves a dual purpose. Not only is it just plain cool looking, enemies who hit a crater at high speed will sometimes lose control, leaving you to plug away at them unimpeded.

The combat in the game does have its flaws. In many situations both you and the enemy will simply be driving in circles until somebody wins. The enemy AI isn’t that great, rather than drive away or flee when heavily damaged enemies will attack you until they die. Also, it’s impossible to “lose” enemies that are following you. You can put a mile of distance between you and an enemy, but they will always know where you are once they have spotted you once.

Graphically, the game is about average with the rest of today’s games. The main menu oozes a style all its own, but the before mission menus look like something you would see on games that were made 10 years ago. The in-game graphics are of the same caliber, there are some notable things such as the models and some of the levels, but overall the game seems a bit bland and uninspired. Granted the game is set in a wasteland, which probably would be bland, but even still there’s nothing that ever really catches your eye. The games special effects are decent, explosions look like explosions, sparks and muzzle flashes are fairly vibrant, and the lighting effects are well done. Overall, there are some high points but don’t expect this game to showcase any form of advanced effects or features.

Sound in the game is notably good. Gunfire, engine noises, and the various sound effects all seem to be well done and mesh well with the game. Bandits comes equipped with a soundtrack over two and a half hours long, made up mostly of some rock and heavy metal reminiscent of the ‘70s – ‘80s era of rock. While none of the bands are big names, and some of the songs aren’t that great, it sets the tone of the game very well and the songs never get annoying. Even if they do, you can skip songs forward and backwards in game using buttons on your keyboard or even overwrite the MP3s with some of your own. Voice acting in the game has a huge up and a huge down. Most of the voice acting you hear is either that of Fennec, Rewdalf, or enemies. Rewdalf is voice acted very well, sounding something like an angry, slightly crazy Scotsman. One look at his portrait while he is talking and suddenly it just all fits perfectly. The voice acting of Fennec and the various enemies in the game is a huge letdown. Fennec is the leader of the Wolfpack clan, and drives a vehicle that anyone stuck in traffic would give an organ for, but he sounds like a total and complete wuss. My kindergarten teacher sounded more menacing, and every time you hear Fennec’s voice you wonder how he became the leader in the first place. The problem with the enemy’s voice acting isn’t the voices but the dialogue; something a little more hardcore than “Die Varmint!” would have been welcome. When fighting in a hailstorm of bullets, in a world where it’s kill or be killed, one would expect something a little harsher.

Control in the game is both revolutionary and annoying at the same time. The game boasts the YGWYL (You Go Where You Look) system. You aim with the mouse which rotes both the turret mounted on your car and your view. If you press the accelerate button your car will turn to match your view. However, if you want to aim behind you while driving forward you have to disable the YGWYL system. Switching between the two only amounts to a couple button presses, but it tends to take away from the combat a bit. Other than that, control in the game is fairly easy and intuitive, and after a couple seconds of play you get fairly accustomed to it all.

Overall, Bandits is a decent game but a price tag higher than about $35 isn’t warranted, the game simply doesn’t have enough appeal or replay ability. Bandits does strive to break the mold of the genre which is commendable, but with a dull multiplayer and a rather repetitive single player it doesn’t push the mold very far. As it stands, Bandits lacks the depth to make it a must-have title.

Score: 7.8/10


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