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PC gamer, WorthPlaying EIC, globe-trotting couch potato, patriot, '80s headbanger, movie watcher, music lover, foodie and man in black -- squirrel!


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PC Review: Sanity - Aiken's Artifact (c) Fox

by Rainier on June 27, 2001 @ 9:30 a.m. PDT

A somewhat older but nevertheless excellent title Sanity:Aiken's Artifact finally made it to our review desk .. Using Monolith Lithengine the graphical quality is already assure ... Ice-T voicing as bad guy was an excellent choice... but is the "action" there as well?

In the year 2028, a mysterious artifact was unearthed in the Middle East. By studying the artifact, world-renowned genetic scientist Dr.Joan Aiken, was able to develop a revolutionary new serum that finally allowed us to unlock the unused portion of the human brain, resulting in a profound effect on humanity. The first version of Dr.Aiken's serum granted recipients the ability to manifest powerful Psionic energy emissions with their minds. Unfortunately, this power came at a terrible price. Since a fully-developed human brain was not capable of adapting to the powerful effects of the serum, the subjects would eventually lose their sanity and completely lose their minds.

Dr.Aiken theorized that if the serum was administered in-utero while the subject's mind was still developing, the recipient would have a better chance of successfully adapting to their Psionic powers. The experiment was almost a complete success. The first two test subjects, aptly named Agent Cain and Abel, were born with Psionic abilities and were much more mentally stable, although they also ran the risk of going insane if they overextended their abilities. The drug was dubbed the Psionic Booster Serum and the subjects who received it were referred to as Psionics for their ability to manipulate this powerful new energy.

While the advent of the Psionic Booster Serum was widely considered a quantum leap forward in human evolution, there were many who feared these "super humans" would abuse their powers and turn to a life of crime, which would eventually destroy our society.

This fear prompted the government to create the Department of National Psionic Control (DNPC). The purpose of this organization was to deal with the ever-growing threat of renegade Psionic criminals. The DNPC knew the only way to effectively combat these powerful criminals was to employ Psionic agents of their own, so they immediately began recruiting the strongest and most stable Psionics they could find. Because Agent Cain and Abel were the first two successful recipients of Dr.Aiken's in-utero Psionic Booster Serum, they were naturally among the DNPC's top candidates for the position of Psionic Field Agent.

Initially, Agent Cain and Abel worked extremely well together and were both tremendous assets to the force. However, Abel soon became more interested in combating Psionics in the field rather than upholding the law, which eventually resulted in his suspension from the force and subsequent incarceration. Shortly afterward, Abel escaped from the DNPC and fell into a life of crime. Agent Cain, on the other hand, was committed to insuring the peaceful coexistence of Psionics and humans in our society. And although Agent Cain is the best Psionic field agent the DNPC currently has, he must learn to control himself if he is to earn the respect and admiration of the people he has sworn to protect.

So to cut it short, The Department of National Psionic Control needs you -- or actually, your skill at capturing psychic terrorists. As Special Agent John Cain you blast through levels using two weapons - the kind you hold in your hand, and the kind you hold in your head.

Sanity has over 80 unique Psionic Talents in the game that are derived from eight different Totems :

Summon Lesser Winged Demon : Summon this airborne creature to attack your enemies. The Winged Demon uses Sphere of the Demon to assist you.

Imprison : Stop enemies in their tracks with the Imprison talent. This instantly opens them up for any area-based attacks. It has a slow casting time so don't miss!

Electric Storm Glyph : This talent allows you to place a landmine-like object into the ground, once a player walks over it or shoots it, the glyph will launch an Electrical Storm and heavily damage anyone within its radius.

Mind's Eye : Read the minds of characters to retrieve passwords, hints, thoughts or fears. This talent is only useful in single-player mode

Inferno : Use this talent when you are overwhelmed by hordes of enemies. Its blast radius damages all that are close.

Heal : Receive 50 healing with the Heal talent. This talent is great for close-to-death encounters.

Lesser Shield Of Reflect : Use this talent when you are overwhelmed by hordes of enemies. Its blast radius damages all that are close.

Binary Grid : This area attack is of medium power and can be cast moderately fast. Binary Grid is very handy for groups of enemies or multiplayer opponents.

Utilizing psychic powers, you can send fireballs, levitate enemies, send waves of ooze after them, or rain a shower of stars on their heads. You'll need that firepower - the enemies come at you with everything they've got, including baseball bats, guns, and more. But if you lose control of your powers, you lose control of your mind, and you could easily go insane. The graphics help you out by displaying razor-sharp backgrounds, animated characters with a wide range of movement (and intelligence), and flashy special effects for all the powers. These effects are the star of the game, filling each screen with brightly-lit forces like the Starshower or Wall of Bones. The enemies are also well illustrated Bosch-like creatures, some of them straight from some poor programmer's nightmares (like the bull skeletons), while others, like the more mundane residents of the trailer park in the beginning of the game, are hilarious to watch. The other star of the show is Ice T, the infamous rapper. He's perfect as Agent Cain, wise-assing his way through his lines (some are genuinely funny) and pumping you up to go out and open the whup-ass canisters. The other voices pale in contrast to Ice T's . The controls are fairly standard - think a cross between Diablo and Quake - and they rarely let you down. You should play through the firing range a couple of times though, because the targets come at you fairly quickly as you progress through the game. Although not all action (there are some minor strategy and puzzle-solving elements), the game requires you to keep on your toes (and fingers). Sanity: Aiken's Artifact is one of the better shooting games out right now. Its flashy looks and mind-blowing storyline, combined with Ice-T and some simple controls, make Sanity a lot of fun as well. You can't go wrong here.

Tested on :

Pentium 3 700Mhz
256 MB RAM
Soundblaster Live Value

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