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==  Rise of the Robots                                By:  Sean Caszatt  ==
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Hello!  A few issues back, Jason mentioned that Amiga Report would be 
getting a Games Editor.  Well, I've finally made it aboard.

I guess a small introduction is in order.  I used to write a newsletter 
called Amiga Entertainment Monthly, an Amigaguide publication like Amiga 
Report.   Over the past 10 months, I reviewed as many games as I could get
my hands on for both the Amiga and CD32.  Mail (both electronic and 
regular) is still arriving on a daily basis, so I apparently succeeded
in reaching some of you out there.  Hopefully, by moving the reviews to 
Amiga Report, I can now reach more of the Amiga faithful.  

I'd like to thank Jason Compton for the opportunity to write for Amiga
Report, a publication I've been reading for quite a long time.  (I also
appreciate his patience as I moved from AEM to Amiga Report.)

Those familiar with AEM will notice a few changes in my review methods.
I will not be using the percentage ratings that I had in the past.  I 
will simply rate the games in three categories by rank from 10 (best) 
to 1 (worst).  The categories are Playability, Graphics, and Sound.  
Playability is a combination of the addictive quality of the game and 
the actual controller response.  Sound and Graphics, I hope, are 
self-explanatory. 

Now...let's get to the good stuff!

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Recently, probably due to the Christmas season than anything else,
the Amiga has seen an explosion in game releases.  I can't remember 
the last time this many games have burst onto the scene in such a high 
number.  These aren't generic, no-name titles either.   Games like PGA 
EUROPEAN TOUR, MORTAL KOMBAT II, JUNGLE STRIKE, SUPER STARDUST, RISE OF 
THE ROBOTS, TOP GEAR II, ALIEN BREED: TOWER ASSAULT and CANNON FODDER 2 
have all been released over the last few weeks.

Since these games are all very new, I haven't had a chance to sit down and
give them the necessary attention for a complete review.  I will be doing 
complete reviews of as many as I can as soon as possible.

I've had time to review one of them as completely as possible.  That game 
is RISE OF THE ROBOTS.

RISE OF THE ROBOTS has been on the tip of everyone's tongue in one form or
another over the past year.  The game, planned for release on every major 
gaming platform today, had been heralded as the first true grafting of 3D 
rendering technology and a truly playable action game.  3D rendering has
provided adventure games like LABYRINTH OF TIME on the CD32/CDTV and MYST
on the PC with some truly amazing scenery.

In most cases, games with 3D rendered graphics have not exactly been 
action packed.  RISE OF THE ROBOTS was to be the game to change that.  
It was also, for some people anyway, to be the game to show what the CD32 
could do when given the opportunity.  The game would give gamers a better
idea of where each game system stood in comparison with the others.  
Because it was to be released on the Amiga (in both AGA and non-AGA 
versions), the CD32, Jaguar, IBM PC, 3DO, SNES and the Genesis, it would 
give an accurate benchmark on which of these systems really could handle 
gaming in the future. 

Of course, that is what was _supposed_ to happened.  The game was 
scheduled to be released in the spring.  It finally hit the shelves on 
November 18th.  The Jaguar and 3DO versions are not out yet.  I'm not 
aware of the Genesis or SNES versions being available yet either.  The 
Amiga, CD32 and PC (disk and CD) versions made it.

(I know this is a big build up.  Stick with me for a few more seconds.)

Is this game the "next big thing?"  Is it the true blend of an arcade game
and 3D rendering technology it was cracked up to be?  Is this game the best
beat-em-up game ever released?  Was it worth the wait?  Uh, well, the 
answer to all of the above is a resounding NO!

RISE OF THE ROBOTS emerges from the hype and reveals itself as a 
good-looking but rather unwieldy beat-em-up.  The game, in all of the
currently available versions, is just not that good.  I don't know
how much of the disappointment comes from pre-release expectations.  I'm 
sure it would be fair to say most of it does.  This is not an 
earth-shattering game at all. 

Looking back at pre-release screenshots, the game is not exactly what
was promised.  It looks nowhere near as smooth or awesome as what we were
shown.  I can accept that.  It's not all that unusual for a game to 
arrive in a slightly different version from that which was originally 
announced or previewed.

Let's look specifically at the Amiga related versions:

In terms of pure beat-em-up action, RISE OF THE ROBOTS is outclassed by 
the barely-better-than-16-bit BODY BLOWS games.  ROTR is quite poor in 
the "special moves" area of beat-em-up gaming.  The moves are controlled 
in a rather awkward way that requires the player to hold down the 
fire button to increase the power of a move and then perform the
move before losing the stored power.  What that translates into is a player
will find their onscreen character performing the same move over and over
again.  (And still beating the tar out of the computer controlled 
opponents.)  

In terms of variety, there are a few interesting characters to choose 
from.  Because they are just machines, and presented with very little 
development or introduction, they just don't seem very intriguing no 
matter how cool they look.  Mainly, in a one player game, you'll just 
fight the other characters as the "cyborg", the big blue guy that's 
featured on the box and the advertisements for the game.

The introductory animation is fun to watch (as long as you've got it 
installed on a hard drive or own a CD32...swapping floppies to see it is 
really not worth it.)  Unfortunately, like most intro animations, it's fun
to watch once and then you'll only show it to friends that haven't seen it
yet.

The "soundtrack" by Queen's Brian May doesn't exactly rank with his best
work.  It's best described as a very irritating guitar power chord over
and over again.  I reached for the volume knob on my monitor everytime I
heard it.

The graphics?  Well...the animations (or cinematics, as the game refers 
to them) are good.  The characters, when still, look very good too.  When
moving they are anything but realistic looking.  Their movements are jerky
and very repetitive.  This is not a big surprise.  I had my doubts that 
they'd be able to pull off extreme realism, but it would have been nice to 
see them get a little closer than they did.  Coupled with the poor control,
the game falls into the "boring" category very quickly.

If the game occupied two or three disks, it might be possible to think 
that maybe they just couldn't fit it all in.  However, when a game 
announces that it takes up 40 megabytes on the hard drive and it comes on 
over ten disks, it had better all be in there!  Of course, the CD32 
version  should be even better, right?  Nope.  It suffers from all the 
same problems as the Amiga versions.

What's different in each version?  Not a lot.  All of them suffer from the
poor control and jerky animation.

The AGA version takes half an hour to install on the hard drive.  It looks
good color-wise, but that doesn't help the gameplay.

The non-AGA version takes less time to install on the hard drive
than the AGA version.  (Which is a bonus if you're anxious to play.)  The
reason for the faster installation is that some of the "cinematics" have
been taken out.  They're not much of a loss really.  This version also 
looks pretty good considering the number of colors onscreen.  It
seems to play a tad faster too.

The CD32 version is the most impressive of the three.  Because it combines
the good looks of the AGA version with the ease of popping in the disc and
playing.  No hard drive installation woes, no disk swapping and all the 
"fun" of the poor control method.  However, it's not the premier beat-em-up 
on the CD32 by any stretch of the imagination.  (That honor still belongs
to ULTIMATE BODY BLOWS.)

Disappointment is the key word here.  The game promised so much and
delivered so little.  I guess one good thing is that, for once, the
PC suffers from the exact same problems.  


RATINGS:        WORST <------>  BEST

Playability:    * * * * - - - - - -     4 out of 10
Graphics:       * * * * * * * - - -     7 out of 10
Sound:          * * * * * - - - - -     5 out of 10

Overall:        * * * * * - - - - -     5 out of 10

Video Mode:     NTSC (all versions)

Manufacturer:   Time-Warner/Mirage      

Sean Caszatt
Amiga Report Games Editor (still getting used to this one)