AGH Jaguar Review:

by Atari

One thing becomes apparent when you first start playing Hover Strike: Unconquered Lands... this is not same game as on the cart. Oh, I know, Atari says it is, but trust me, it's not. I originally played the cartridge version at a local electronics store. The game disappointed me and left me wanting more. I decided against the purchase. When HV:UL came out months later, I didn't even give it a look. I never considered playing it again until I ended up trading Dragon's Lair for it. I had definitely missed out! Basically it keeps the same storyline, objectives, and playing style as the original, but adds better graphics, tighter control, better music, more levels, and some nice FMV that's kept to a tasteful minimum.

The objective of HV is pretty simple. You pilot a heavily armored 'hover tank.' You get dropped off at obscure sites on various planets and you set out to destroy all the enemy's goodies. Piloting a hover tank, however, you need to keep in mind that you're dealing with some different physics than normal. When you run over a bump or hill, you won't simply drop back to the ground. You'll bounce around and lose sight of everything until your 'tank settles to an even flight again. If you 'round a corner at full throttle, you're not going to stick to the pavement. You're going to travel over this huge arc because you're not dealing with friction anymore, but inertia and gravity instead. Once you you get the hang of all this, you'll become adept at strafing targets and other fun stuff. There are over 40 levels in Hover Strike:UL offering different objectives, terrains, and lighting conditions. There are 3 weapon choices (plus flares for night missions) and a ton of enemy targets to go after.

Graphically, Hover Strike:UL is filled with texture mapped and shaded polygons galore. Possibly the only things not texture mapped are missiles you fire at enemy targets. Many of the texture maps and terrains are animated as well, though you won't really notice it unless you're standing still (in which case you're probably about to die!) Some other niceties include the lighting effects. The radiant light created by your 'shot' fades on and off the terrain so smoothly that you're bound to keep firing just to see it happen. On the down side, the horizon is awfully close, causing some terrible 'pop-up' and every mission shows a night sky... black, with a few stars her and a planet or two there. I would have really liked to have seen some blue skies and clouds, etc., especially on the snow and ice covered levels. That may not sound like alot, but I do think it detract from this title a little.

In the music and sound department, HV:UL's definitely above average. The explosions sound sweet, and most the other effects fit in real nice. The music, however, is outstanding. Have you ever seen a movie, but when you watched it, didn't notice the music? Take for example Pulp Fiction. That film has a very distinct and impressive soundtrack. During most the movie, however, it fits in so well that it ends up setting the mood for the screenplay without being obtrusive or even that noticeable. This is exactly what Hover Strike:UL is like. It has this very subdued music that sets the tone for the game play. 'Very well done! About the only exceptions come between levels (which I'm not that fond of) and the rippin' soundtrack that accompanies the intro.

Overall, this is a quality game that improves on the cart' by leaps and bounds. It's too bad that many people, like myself, will end up associating too closely to the cart' and never give this one a chance. My only suggestion for this game is to buy a memory track. The replayability of this title depends heavily on one. Without it, you'll grow tired of the game before you finish the first 12 levels. With it, the replay value will increase 100-fold.

Title Hover Strike: Unconquered Lands
Publisher Atari
System Atari Jaguar CD
Overall Score 8
Reviewer Brian C. Bessemer

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