Highlander (CD)

Atari Jaguar CD

by Larry Tipton

Game Title: Highlander, The Last of the Macleods

Publisher: Atari Corporation

Developer: Lore Design

Format: Compact Disc

System: Atari Jaguar 64, Jaguar CD Unit

Highlander, Atari's first 64-bit entry into the world of adventure gaming  is now available. This games contains gameplay/style elements that has made games such as Myst, Kings Quest and Alone in the Dark popular.

Highlander is a wonderfully constructed game that is sure to please gamers looking for a little puzzle solving and exploration in their gaming diet. But logic alone will not get you through the game. You must also be a master the sword! The melding of the polygon characters with lush rendered scenes and animated cuts is performed with amazing continuity.

Before you try to play this game:

1. READ THE MANUAL. Otherwise you will find your polygon hero dead before you knew what hit him. The control, at first, seemed "alien" to me. But after a few minutes it felt quite natural.

2. GET A MEMORY CART. Without a memory cart, this game would be nearly impossible. The game allows for up to 5 saved games. Games can be saved and restored from any point!

After you get started and finally killed off a few guard go into one of the huts and practice you hand-to-hand fighting moves. Thats right, hand-to-hand fighting. You start the game without a weapon!

The game constantly changes perspectives. It feels like you are watching a movie. It is a cool effect that was borrowed from Alone In The Dark. But whereas Alone In The Dark uses digitized 256 color graphics for the scenery Highlander employs high resolution rendered scenes. This gives the game a more of a Myst look. But the player moves about the scenery like a typical Sierra game would. So I guess you could call this approach to gameplay new.

Thus far, I have completed the first level. It took me about 2 hours to complete that level. It was so much fun, I spent another two hours replaying the level...exploring and trying to build up my energy reserves such as food and drink. Ive spent the last 4-5 hours in the second desert/mountain level. It is quite challenging. Lots of bad things can happen to you there. Quicksand, Different soldier classes, some with long swords, three guys hacking at you at time, a tank-like vehicle, and more.

At some points in the game an object that you pick up and examine will invoke an image from the past. The FMV sequence is taken right from the animated cartoon. This technique of story telling blends in quite nicely with the overall game. I guess this replaces the text-oriented Sierra approach to story telling and conversion in a game.

Fight! Thats right. Youve got to fight to beat this game. The polygon characters, though not texture mapped may not look too real but they move like they are! You can thrust, swipe, jump, lunge, backstep, parry, duck left or right and block while fighting with the blade. If you choose to fight without a sword, you can punch, kick, leg-swipe, jump, retreat, etc. Sometimes the impact of the swords clashing will cause both your character and the enemy to repel backwards.

When you kill a soldier, open a door, etc. they stay that way. Even after you you save and restore a game. This is a nice touch.

The puzzles thus far are not overly difficult. Usually it is a matter of finding the right object that will cause something to happen when used with something else in a particular scene. This is typical adventuring fare. .

One thing that I found quite perplexing about this game is that there is no scoring mechanism. No points, no % complete, nada. Just your health bar at the bottom of the screen. Weird. You do know when you have completed a level though. Thats something I guess. Weird.

OK, Game Rating on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the highest obtainable score:


Game Graphics:   9

FMV Graphics:    7

Control:             7.5

Sound F/X:         8

Music:                8

Fun Factor:        9

Overall Score:    8.5

At first, I found the game difficult to play. Getting used to the control and scene view changes took about 30 minutes for me to get used to. Now I find the games interface and presentation style refreshing and quite enjoyable. It is worth the time and effort. I'm already looking forward to the sequels and I have not finished this one yet! :-)

That's all for now,

Larry Tipton


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