Review: Forsaken (Remastered)

Wow. Here’s a game I never expected to review, Forsaken. That’s right, out of nowhere, this classic title has been remastered and is now available to a whole new generation of gamers.

Forsaken was a game that I actually enjoyed in my younger days. A friend and I both owned the PC version. And together, we spent many hours blasting our way through multiplayer matches. Despite our love for it, the PC release of Forsaken never really seemed to take off with the general public. Instead, most players are familiar with the Nintendo 64 version of the game.

When I started working on my backlog reviews, Forsaken was a game that I desperately wanted to revisit. However, I found the original release to be riddled with compatibility issues that made it nearly unplayable on modern systems. For this reason, I decided to put it on the back burner. But now, with the release of the remastered version of the game, I jumped at the chance to dive back in.

Admittedly, Forsaken is really nothing more than a Descent clone. In it, you play as a futuristic treasure hunter in a hovercraft. You zoom through cramped corridors, blasting other pilots and enemies – with the goal of collecting the treasure and making it out alive.

Like Descent, you can pilot your ship in a full 360-degree range of motion (well, “six-degrees”, if you want to get technical).  The biggest difference here is that you can choose to play as a number of different characters, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. For example, one pilot might have a faster ship, but with a weaker hull or with less maneuverability.  Each pilot also has their own personality that is expressed through a series of audible taunts.

At the beginning of the game, only a handful of pilots are available to play. More are unlocked as you encounter and defeat them throughout the game itself. Now, perhaps it is my faulty memory, but I don’t seem to remember this mechanic in the original release of the game. I seem to recall having a full roster of characters right from the start. Perhaps I’m incorrect on this. Either way, this time around I actually found unlocking the characters to be enjoyable and motivating.

As for the gameplay itself, if you are familiar with any of the Descent games, you already know exactly what to expect; fast paced, flying action. Enemies will swarm you, forcing you to glide your ship behind corners for cover, only to dart back out in attempt to squeeze off a few shots. I found that controls handle very well. In fact, I daresay the playcontrol in Forsaken is an improvement over what was found in Descent.

The remastered version of Forsaken takes all of the content from the original PC release and the exclusive levels from the N64 and puts them all in one game, making this the absolute definitive version. The N64 levels are hidden, and must be unlocked by discovering secrets tucked away within the game’s main levels.

If you’re the type of player that likes to hunt secrets, that’s not all. In fact, this version of Forsaken also rewards players with “cheat codes” if they manage to find all of the gold bars that are hidden throughout each level. These codes can then be activated from a menu, providing players with everything from invincibility to alternate textures.

The single player content is entertaining in itself, but the multiplayer mode is arguably the most popular way to enjoy the game. Back in the day, I spent an embarrassing number of hours playing this game online with friends. Naturally, I was excited to try out multiplayer on this new remaster. However, every time I entered the lobby, I found it to be empty.

It seems that the Steam and GOG releases of the game do not share multiplayer lobbies. As a result, you are restricted to playing with others who use the same platform. This seems to be the main issue finding active multiplayer sessions. There’s just not enough people interested in a twenty year-old title. To say that this is a disappointment is an understatement. Despite the potential multiplayer troubles, Forsaken is still a game worthy of attention. Especially for six-degree shooter fans.

Difficulty: Variable – This game offers a number of difficulty settings, ranging from easy to nearly impossible. The settings affect both the number of enemies, enemy AI and even item placement. I found them all to be appropriate. There’s a setting for nearly every skill level.

Story: Games like this do not really need much of a story. The set up here is basic; post-apocalyptic Earth and scavengers.  It is simple, but for a game like this, more than enough.

Originality: Forsaken certainly did not invent the six-degree FPS genre. But it did manage to improve on it. By adding a little personality and some improved graphics and sound, this game brought the genre to a new era.

Soundtrack: One of better highlights of the game. The score for the game is catchy and appropriate; featuring high-energy techno tunes. The voice acting is over-the-top and ridiculous. This remastered version of the game incorporates the “adult themed” voice pack that was previously available as an add-on to the original game. Be warned.

Fun: If you enjoy futuristic, fast-paced FPS games, you’ll feel right at home with Forsaken. Sadly, due to the fragmented state of the multiplayer, it might end up feeling a little lonely.

Graphics: The original game was frequently bundled with graphics cards as a way to show off some of the (then) state-of-the-art dynamic lighting and Direct-3D rendering. These days, the graphics are nothing special, but they still look amazing in their presentation. Forsaken is a beautiful game.

Playcontrol: I found the controls in this game to be a huge improvement over Descent. Something about the default controls here just feels right. If I had to find any criticism, it would be with the UI and weapon cycling. Sometimes the UI seems a bit gaudy and overly large. But, it works.

Downloadable Content: No.

Mature Content: YES. Adult language, innuendo, and some nudity. (Nudity enabled via cheat code)

Value:  Forsaken Remastered is available for $19.99. Despite being an excellent game, I have a tough time recommending it at this price. The amount of a content is appropriate. But when considering the iffy multiplayer, this one might seem more appealing when on sale.

Overall rating (out of four stars): 3 – Forsaken is a long forgotten gem. It is a game that actually deserved the remaster treatment. For the most part, there is little to complain about. The game looks better than ever and is playable on modern machines. However, the best part of the game, the multiplayer – is damaged by the cross-platform wars.

Available on: Steam, GOG, Xbox One

Lost in the Shuffle – Forgotten PC Games

 

With my review of WarCraft III out of the way, I have finally played through the bulk of my entire physical PC catalog. Well, not exactly… there’s a couple of titles I purchased back in the day that I didn’t review now, because I either didn’t complete them when they were new or I have plans to replay them at a later date (the Ultima games, for example).

But just like my look back on the classic NES games of my youth, there’s also a handful of titles that I just didn’t get around to reviewing for a variety of reasons. As the picture above indicates, the infamous Daikatana is one of those games…

Daikatana is famous for being an exceptionally terrible game. I was one of the suckers that purchased the game at full price when it was first released only to be caught dead in my tracks due to bugs and unable to progress through it. Like many others, I waited patiently for a patch. When the fixes finally came, I seem to remember that my savefile no longer worked, meaning I would have had to start the game over again. Disgusted with this turn of events, I shelved the game.

I briefly toyed with the idea of revisiting Daikatana, but I found the game did not really perform well on my modern PC. I’ve heard rumors of an unofficial patch in development. Perhaps, I’ll give this game another look if it ever sees the light of day.

Another game that I intended to review was SiN – this was a Quake-Engine game that came out just a few weeks before Half-Life. It is a first person-shooter that features some pretty innovative gameplay. Sadly, Half-Life became such a runaway hit, that some of the thunder was stolen-away from SiN. This game also has the honor of being the first mature game with nudity that I ever played… that was a shocker at the time.

This was actually a title that I fully intended to play, but again, I had some serious issues getting this game to run properly. Shortly after I decided to skip over the title, GOG.com released a version of the game. I have purchased and tested the GOG release, and I’m happy to say it runs perfectly. This is a title I expect to revisit and review sometime in the future.

descent-3-screen-2-5B1-5D

Finally, if the screenshot above doesn’t bring back pangs of nostalgia, then you simply were not a PC gamer in the 90’s… The Descent trilogy were some extremely innovative titles that featured “360-degrees of motion”. These games were infamous for giving people motion sickness and I was no exception. Once my eyes and brain got adjusted to the games, they started to feel natural and I remember being quite good at them actually. I spent many hours as a teenager playing multiplayer Descent, but these days I found the look and feel of the game to be a bit too much for me. Maybe I’m getting old or perhaps the game plays too fast on modern hardware, but I encountered a very difficult time controlling the games this time around. Perhaps my days as the “Material Defender” are over.

– Sidenote, I remember owning a Descent clone by the name of Forsaken. Instead of piloting a space fighter, you rode flying motorbikes through a series of 360-degree mazes. It would be nice to get my hands on a copy of that gem again.

As far as games that I purchased, but never really got to dig into, the honor goes to Unreal II and Unreal Tournament 2003/2004. I also owned, but never completed, Baldur’s Gate – the classic Dungeons & Dragons title.  All of these are games I plan on covering here in due time.

There are also several PC games that I did enjoy in my younger days that I have decided not to cover at this time. The Star Wars titles, as well as a handful of role playing games fall into this category. I have future plans for these so stay tuned.

Of course, no one person can experience every PC game. If you have any good suggestions, please feel free to let me know. I occasionally get messages and comments and I’m always willing to try something new.