AGH Jaguar Review: HIGHLANDER (CD)

by Atari

I've always thought that the Highlander universe had one of the coolest premises of all time. A bunch of immortal guys, walking around, taking names, and cutting off each others heads, all to the blazing sounds of Queen. And you can't tell me Kurgann wasn't one of the most tough-ass looking badguys of all time. That row of staples across his neck . . . man. Anyways, good stuff. So just for a little bit of historical nostalgia, that movie begat a bad sequel, a pretty cruddy television show, another not so great sequel, and a truly odd cartoon series. This game is, of course, based on the cartoon, so there is no Christopher Lambert, and only a man who is a shell of Sean Connery. Cie est la vie.

Being as how this is based on the cartoon, there is no gritty, urban feel too it, which is kind of bad, but the world it has is a pretty cool mix of Pagan and futuristic locals, much like New Hampshire. He he he. This game follows in the footsteps of Alone in the Dark and Resident Evil, where the character is a 3d polygonal dude in a world of pre-rendered backgrounds. All movement is in 3d, as are all objects and enemies, but everything else is just a flat 2d picture. That isn't always bad, though, as the games mentioned attest.

You control one Quentin McCloud, and he must travel across the lands of his world to retrieve his captured clan-mates and along the way become a man. To help him, the enigmatic Ramirez lends non-helpful advice and useless commentary. Connery rip-off . . .

The premise is solid, and the game is neat enough, although the control leaves a lot to be desired. You must turn your character around and then have him walk in the direction he's facing, rather than just have him go wherever. This is pretty counter-intuitive, but if you've played Resident Evil it's the same thing here. The problem is that if you get attacked from behind, as happens once in a while, you're dead, because it takes incredibly long to turn around, and meanwhile the dude is wailing away at you. So don't get caught, else you'll be upset. Very annoying, I'll grant, but once you get used to it, after a few HOURS, it gets okay. Other than that, all is well, as your dude has a plethora of fighting techniques, depending on wether he is armed or unarmed, walking or running. All that is good, but because of the very slow controls combat can be a chore sometimes. On the plus side, the movements are all animated very well, and look pretty fluid.

The graphics for the backround are very pretty, especially on the first area. Myst-quality. Very nice. Old Quentin, however, is one ugly muther. I think he is made up of six polygons, all of them icky. He moves well, but looks pretty weird, especially close up. Shiver. Same goes for the enemies. This proves, once again, that 3d was never the jag's bag. The graphics don't get in the way, however, and like I said, the backrounds are gorgeous. Also, the game features two kinds of cut scenes. One taken directly from the cartoon (I think), and another 3d one like the ones in battlemorph or blue lightning. Both of these are done well, though the computer one looks pretty grainy sometimes.

Sound is nice, with random background noises and some yells and talking and such. Not bad. Not much by way of music or anything, until the ending sequence, but that doesn't get in the way much.

Anyways, one of the few good games for the Jag CD, so if you can get passed the controls, pick it up. A nice little game, albiet a bit short. You can tell they put effort into it, though so that's nice. Not like Blue Lightning. One day they'll pay for that . . .

Title Highlander
Publisher Atari
System Atari Jaguar
Graphics 7
Sound 6
Gameplay 7
Overall 7
Reviewer Matthew Lippart

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