Omega Boost


Review by Greg Wilcox



Graphics: 10

Sound: 9

Gameplay: 7

Overall: 9

omegaboost1ps1.jpg (43050 bytes)The history books are all wrong- the world’s oldest profession isn’t prostitution, it’s time travel. Where else can you say that you’ve been everywhere and everywhen and seen it all? There are countless books, movies and games that use a variation on this old story: Some otherwise regular Joe or Jane is sent back in time to help prevent a future catastrophe, and despite overwhelming odds, (s)he more often than emerges victorious, and the world of the future (and the past) is saved (roll credits). Polyphony Digital (Gran Turismo 1-3, Motor Toon Gran Prix) has dug up their own time travel story, set their sights on the shooter market, and have done a remarkable job with Omega Boost.

Omega Boost doesn’t pretend to be anything other than what it is, a great looking shooter with simple, challenging gameplay. The story is pretty thin, but the folks at Polyphony decided to add a weird twist to make it stand out a bit. You're going back in time to save the human race (yawn), but in order to do this, you have to go back to 1946 and replace an old vacuum tube in ENIAC, one of the first computers ever built! Yes, it's quite a goofball idea, but who buys a shooter for a deep plot? A long opening movie masterfully combines CG and live-action film footage, with some B-grade actors doing a pretty decent job of spelling out the story. I much preferred the opening theme from the Japanese version (it sounds like a Queen song!) over the alterna-rock found in the U.S. port, but that's life, folks.

omegaboost2ps1.jpg (24023 bytes)After that, it’s on to the Options screen, where you can adjust the controls, take a run through the Training mode, or head into the main game itself. OB is set up a bit like Sega’s Panzer Dragoon, with a lock-on weapon, and a super gun that can only be used when a special meter fills. While the preferred view is the default third person, you can switch to a truly dizzying first-person view which makes the action even more intense. You don’t collect power-ups or weapons from enemies like in most shooters- the guns you’ve got are quite powerful on their own, and gain levels as you progress. Actually, you can't just shoot wildly all over, hoping to score a few lucky hits. You level up based on performance and time taken, so the faster you get good at OB, the stronger your guns get. I recommend going through the Training mode to learn the spinning dodge move and how to lock on and rotate about a target- you'll be doing a hell of a lot of this in almost every stage.

You can fly anywhere, but the game is made to have the enemies keep you on a certain path. You head toward a planet, blasting assorted ships and the huge mid-boss that’s guarding it, then soar over the planet’s surface defeating more enemies, and another huge boss. Then it's into the tunnels, where you negotiate tricky pipe mazes, dodge lasers and collapsing platforms while avoiding bouncing off the walls. It's nothing revolutionary, but the execution is very nearly flawless. Omega Boost has really beautiful lighting effects, amazing speed, and possibly the best transparencies seen in a PS game. You can actually pause the game and zoom or rotate the camera about to check out the amazing little details on the mechs. Backgrounds are either very simple star fields or skies, but this is no doubt the choice of the programmers to keep the game moving at a rapid clip. If you own a PS2, you MUST run this with the texture smoothing on- it's even more incredible. The hard rock, techno beats and a bit of other musical textures will get you pumped up as you blast your way through the game.

omegaboost3ps1.jpg (22016 bytes)As you play through OB, you're graded on your performance and bonus levels become available in Zone Play. You can also save your replays to view and study at any time, another cool feature. There are a total of 37 levels to play here, and like any shooter, the game will probably not appeal to those gamers looking for a wide variety of things to do as they're playing. But OB has enough visual punch to draw you in for a wild ride, should you pick it up. Some reviews I've read weren't kind to this game, failing to realize that it's not supposed to be the greatest shooter ever made- just a damn good-looking, solid 3D shooter. At the very least, you'll recognize that Omega Boost has an impressive engine to show off what the PS can really do under the right programmers. I'm hoping Polyphony someday puts together an even more impressive PS2 sequel (once the next Gran Turismo game is done), although Konami's Zone of the Enders will be hard to top as far as visuals and speed. In any event, go grab a copy of Omega Boost while you still can- as the computer voice says in the game: "It's all good!"


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Last updated: Friday, October 07, 2005 10:37 PM