Caliber .50


Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 5

Sound: 7

Gameplay: 4

Overall: 4

There's just something pure about taking that buff commando into a jungle and wiping out faceless enemies when it comes to gaming. For whatever reason, it's a genre that evolved over the years, switching perspectives where it now lies in first-person shooters. "Caliber .50" is an attempt to do something different, at least as far as control schemes go. No matter what all those Taco Bell ads have led you to believe, different isn't always better.

Though is seems to be set in some sort of Vietnamese like jungle, "Caliber .50" goes off the deep end when it comes to the bosses. Giant monkeys and turtles are just the tip of goofy boss syndrome this game suffers from. So exactly where and why you're doing what you're doing sort of loses focuses. Of course, when you're armed with a massive machine gun and unlimited ammo, who cares why you're in the jungle?

What "Caliber .50" tries to be is different and in that, it really drops the ball. There are two controls schemes included, one that mimics the arcade game, the other which should seem more familiar. Set A (from the arcade) requires one of the Genesis' buttons to be held in order to turn your character. That's flat out ridiculous for a game that throws so much at you at every turn. Granted, it does offer more control, allows for strafing, and it gives more directional firing, it's just not fast enough or accurate at all. Set B simply lets you control direction with the D-pad, but there's no strafing which is highly frustrating.

Adding to the oddball scheme are grenades. You're limited in their use, yet you have no choice but fire one every time your finger leaves the trigger. It makes them just as difficult to use as the default control scheme. Powering up again is different as you have a meter which doubles as a life bar. Picking up dropped pieces from dead enemies extends the bar and firepower. You can be killed by certain adversaries in one hit regardless of how powered-up you are.

Frustration can still be sent higher as everything reappears if you re-enter a screen. That occurs quite often as you try and dodge a barrage of gunfire from the opposing forces. One step in the wrong direction brings an entirely new armada onto the screen, one that was just killed. Topping everything off are bosses that either move faster than you or shoot things faster than you. They have every advantage going for them.

Character sprites are meager. Calling them faceless if quite accurate as orange blobs is all you really get. Bosses, tanks, and helicopters get pretty big. Otherwise, everything looks awfully tiny and cartoonish. Slowdown does occur in a few spots, just not enough to ruin the game. Sound effects are sparse, laid under a surprising soundtrack that really fits in with the game. The boss theme isn't the greatest, but the music to get you there is.

While any gamer can applaud the designers for trying something different, the end result just doesn't add up to a great game. All that innovation was wasted on a mediocre product. There's very little to like, but if you enjoy unique challenges, then there's a chance you might make a connection here.


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Last updated: Sunday, March 20, 2005 09:08 AM