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


PS2 Review - 'BlowOut'

by Hank on Feb. 11, 2004 @ 2:34 a.m. PST

Genre: Action
Publisher: Majesco
Developer: Terminal Reality
Release Date: November 10, 2003

Aliens have always been a fascination for many people, myself included. We wonder if they truly exist, and if they do, are they a friendly race or a violent one? Such fascinations spawned movies and TV shows like Alien and X-Files (one of my personal favorites). Blowout decided to take the same path, centering on a space station magically taken over by aliens. Who knows how they got there? All you need to know is that it's your job to take them out.

Sporting a highly simplistic set of controls, this is a game you can get into in a matter of seconds. There was one portion where I had to consult the manual, and that involved operating elevators. When I first started, I was stuck on the first stage, going crazy and wondering why the elevator wouldn't move. Opening up the manual, I discovered that the elevator is operated by the digital pad, requiring you to press up or down to reach the next level.

Each stage has a vast number of levels, much like a decently high apartment complex. Rather than having little rooms, the entire space station (better known as the Honour Guard) seems to be connected in one linear hallway. Moving left and right through the hallway will provide the exploration needed to complete that level on the map. However, the space station clearly doesn't believe in privacy, which allows a lot of enemies to rush you at once.

Run into a good combination of enemies, and you may find yourself dead before you know it. The enemies seem to be a type of bug species, differing only in movement and attacking style. They're usually equipped with projectile attacks, but the attacks are weak unless you're attacked by a group. As if they were aware of this weakness, you will rarely see an enemy out on its own, with the exception of a boss battle. Since they are clustered together, you can just fire madly in any given direction, massacring the enemy without allowing them to come within your screen. Your projectile attacks have more range than theirs, giving you the advantage. Now all you have to worry about is completing the mission objectives.

The whole station is one excruciating maze! Figuring out how to move from one position to the next is such an arduous task. Even though you may have the map, it doesn't reveal the secret passages that you need to "blowout" before you can move on. In order to find these paths, you should just go on a killing spree, or as I would call it, firing like there's no tomorrow. Remember, though, with the exception of the machine gun (which overheats if used too much), weapons do not have unlimited ammo. The minigun was my favorite, as it allows you to fire at incredibly fast speeds with almost no reload time, basically a chain gun. This weapon is great for giving the enemies a beating, but you can't forget the other weapons, like the rotary shotgun, flamethrower, flechette nail gun, grenade launcher, missile launcher, and sonic impulse cannon. The last three weapons work well against bosses and groups of enemies, but they have incredibly slow reload rates. After firing one shot, you may need a good three seconds before you can fire another, and three seconds is a tremendous amount of time in life and death situations.

You will not encounter these life and death situations under normal circumstances, but when boss battles come around, it's a completely different story. The bosses just seem like they are equipped with incredibly powerful weaponry or an insane amount of life, so they are able to slowly pick away at yours. These battles don't use the same mechanism as when you were playing through the level; instead, the battle occurs in a secluded room. So rather than fighting left to right, you are fighting upwards at the enemy. To make things worse, the bosses move a decent amount, making it harder for you to kill them. The rocket launcher or grenade launcher can conclude these battles in a timely manner. Some weaponry just does not work against the later bosses, especially the machine gun.

So far it seems like a Contra clone, right? Well, that is pretty far-fetched, at least in my opinion. The game does have some similar concepts, but the basis is completely different. Contra has always been a game of skill, having to avoid attacks at all costs since even one hit can be the end, while in Blowout you are a new and improved Rambo who doesn't care about getting hit, doing whatever is necessary to achieve your goal. Your character can sure take a pounding, getting hit a thousand times before Game Over. It may even take more hits because you can get items that give you shield powers. Okay, I might be exaggerating about the thousand, but it sure seems that way. If by any chance you are unlucky and lose large amounts of life, you can always recharge it by finding the med stations or blowing up objects to find health packs. Blowing up objects also gives you chances to find new weaponry and gaining ammo. In war, we know one thing: victory is achieved if you have enough resources.

Of course, the best resource to have on anyone's side is the right intelligence. In Blowout, John Cane is informed of the situation at hand and is told in detail where to go next. They use a telecommunication mechanism for this purpose; the commands are voiced to you rather than sent via text. The guy who relays the information tries his best to make the situation as comical as possible, making it more enjoyable to hear. It isn't like there is anything else to listen to, although John may enjoy the sound of his gun more than anything else. If you are lucky, you may even get to hear the screams of the aliens (that is, if they are louder than your arsenal).

What is better than to use your arsenal to blow up objects in your path? Watching barrels and crates fly to open secret passages is just a lot of fun. It lends variety to the dull background that you must deal with. You'd expect a space station to be pretty impressive, but instead, it kind of reminds me of sewers … not that I would know. Equipped with a jet pack that is crucial to progressing in the game, you do get to observe these "sewers" in more detail, making the levels alternate from two halves: lower and upper. The graphics definitely cannot compare to Contra, but I do have to say the beginning cut scene was sweet. It makes me wonder why they didn't use some more of the graphical talent to build a story with some animated sequences between stages. One thing I really did enjoy, though, is if you do get the chance to let Cane idle, you will get to see what a Marshall does on the Honour Guard when he's bored.

The game is definitely a strong contender in the 2D shooters category. For the price range, it is a game that most will enjoy, but there is one major flaw that will frustrate many gamers (it really chapped my hide): there are times when I couldn't turn around. I mean, come on, when an enemy is behind you and you can only step back into them, it defeats the purpose of trying to purge the enemy. I guess Cane has some sort of death wish, but I really wished there were a button to change the direction which he faces. The PS2 controller has 14 buttons; it couldn't have hurt to assign one of them to let you change directions. If they had fixed this problem before release, this probably would have been a great title. If there is a sequel (and the game developers address this matter), I would definitely purchase it. For you gamers out there, if you want a challenge, this game may not be for you, and I would suggest Contra. On the other hand, if you are looking for an enjoyable game with just the one downside I mentioned, go out and rent it or buy it. For its price range, you may have a new game that you may enjoy adding to your library.

Score: 6.0/10

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