Genre: Mindless Shoot’em Up
Developer: Saber Interactive
Date: June 6, 2003
Buy 'WILL ROCK': PC
With very few exceptions, it has been many years since the world has seen a mindless shoot-'em-up like Duke Nukem 3D or Doom. In those few exceptions are usually mediocre games like Turok: Dinosaur Hunter. It is very rare these days that the world is exposed to a quality shooter. In the past few years, however, gamers were blessed with the release of Serious Sam and its sequel Serious Sam: The Second Encounter. Both games sport the big guns and big explosions that made Doom and Duke so popular. So until Doom III comes out later this year, the title of supreme shooter is still up for grabs.
In hopes of stealing that title, Saber Interactive teamed up with gaming veteran UbiSoft to create the latest shoot-'em-up known as Will Rock. Will Rock is a freelance archaeologist who ends up going on an expedition to the base of Mt. Olympus with two colleagues, Dr. Headstrong and the Dr.'s daughter, Emma, to investigate the discovery of the entrance to Olympus, the lost city of the Greek gods. An extremist group wanting to restore the power of the gods, ambushes their expedition, and forces the good doctor to open the doors to Olympus. As the doors open, the extremist group decides they no longer have a use for the professor and shoot him. In a desperate attempt to save Emma, Will grabs a gun and opens fire, missing completely and hitting a nearby statue. In the process, Will is wounded and loses consciousness while the extremists escape into Olympus with Emma, who soon will become the bride of the all powerful Zeus. The statue that Will hit turned out to be the statue of Prometheus, a Greek Titan that was forced to guard the entrance to Olympus for eternity. In thanking Will for releasing him, Prometheus gives Will possession of his energy and a renewed thirst for vengeance. After releasing Prometheus, Will starts on his journey to save Emma.
Right off the bat, the game looked like it had promise, after a petite 730 MB install, it was time to find out just how much promise the game actually had. With a game like Will Rock, a tutorial isn’t really necessary because of its low mental requirements. As long as the player can move the mouse and use the keyboard, he/she is set. The game features three skill levels; for complete novices to the genre, the easiest skill level would definitely be suitable, but the average gamer could probably handle the game on the hardest skill level with minimal effort, which is perfect for a game like this because players want to have fun, not get frustrated.
The game starts at the base of Mt. Olympus, and as it progresses, the player moves farther and farther up the mountain. Along the way, the player picks up new weapons from mini-guns to small tactical nukes, and the 11 included weapons definitely provide variety. For instance the Medusa gun turns enemies into stone, while the sniper crossbow sets enemies on fire, and the player can watch as they are burned alive. The sign of a true shoot-’em-up is the amount of action that the player experiences, and Will Rock is action-packed. Each level features over 500 enemies, but the actual number is usually more in the vicinity of 700. With over 15 different enemy types, there was some nice variety in targets while playing the game. The most common of those enemies were the Minotaurs, who, when killed, explode into smaller Minotaurs.
In a game like Will Rock, AI isn’t important at all, for the dumber the enemies, the better. A game like Will Rock is there for stress relief, not to cause stress, and so Saber Interactive is to be commended on a job well done with their AI system. The enemies do not take cover or reload; they simply engage in a head-on, action-packed assault. This lack of AI makes Will Rock the perfect stress relief tool.
Although in some ways quite similar to its cousin Serious Sam, Will Rock has a much more in-depth story. Described at the beginning of the review, the story is relatively intricate, which is not to say that Will Rock’s plot can even compare to that of a game like Half-life, but it is just nice to see a shoot-’em-up with a well-constructed story. The game sports the classic damsel in distress storyline to which just about any gamer can relate.
The multiplayer mode in games like Will Rock is not an integral feature of the game. At the same time, the multiplayer feature adds quite a bit to the level of fun that a player can have with Will Rock. The game features not only a variety of deathmatch maps, but also a cooperative mode so a group of friends online can play through the game, making the single player campaign that much more fun. The public probably won’t see any clans formed for this game, but that really wasn’t Saber Interactive’s intent when designing the multiplayer component of Will Rock. They were aiming to create a full, fun experience, and they have done just that.
Unfortunately, the game lacks a little in the area of graphics, as it sports visuals that are relatively dated and resemble those of the original Serious Sam. The large environments are really quite impressive, but when viewing things close-up, the graphics show a bit of their age. Although the graphics didn’t affect the amount of fun experienced playing the game, it would have benefited the game tremendously to support more detailed models and environments. At the same time, Saber Interactive did the right thing by building the game to run on most modern day systems, and many older systems as well. Really, one can only complain about graphics if one has a top-of-the-line system because for everyone else, the level of detail is perfect.
There isn’t much to say from an audio standpoint, as the game is non-stop action. With guns blazing all of the time, it was hard to hear anything but the Bang! Crash! and Boom! that was Will Rock. However, there was one extraordinary sound that surpassed any sound like it in any other game: the ricochet sound for the machine gun fire when shooting stone surfaces. The sound was beautiful and can hardly be described in words; it has to be heard to be believed. Along with the sound effects came an interesting soundtrack that picked up pace at the right places and delivered an eerie feel in others, giving the game its unique feel.
In the long run, Will Rock definitely surpassed the Serious Sam series in more ways than one. The huge variety in weapons and enemies, combined with the large numbers of enemies per level and over 15 hours of gameplay made Will Rock a game to remember. Aside from its relatively dated graphics the game lived up to its potential, taking the budget shoot-’em-up crown for itself ... that is, until the release of Doom III, which will surely give ol' Will a run for his money.
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