AGH Jaguar Review: SKYHAMMER

by Rebellion (published by Songbird Productions)

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When Rebellion surprised the gaming world with its awesome Jaguar game Aliens Vs. Predator, fans immediately took notice and began to anticipate the next release from the company for Atari's 64-bit machine. That game was supposed to be Skyhammer, the game is finished, and unfortunately, it will never see the light of day unless Telegames decides to pick it up and release it.

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The game's setting is Blade Runner-esque -- it's a cyberpunk type city and the scene is dark and desolate. The area has been taken over by baddies, and it's your job to rid the cities from the infestation of the renegades that have taken over. Skyhammer is mission-based, meaning that you have specific objectives for each round. Of course, to succeed in your primary goals, you'll have to contend with numerous foes, many of which become even more menacing with each progressive level.

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Gameplay is a mixture of G-Police, Descent and even a dash of Iron Soldier; the tall buildings give the Doom-like corridor effect, except that you can fly above the city in most places, giving the player that much more freedom to roam around and explore. Taking control of either an advanced fighter plane or a helicopter (your choice), you have the ability to move in any direction and even fly up and down. This adds a new element in gameplay over many games in the genre that place you on foot. As a result, navigation using the onboard map is crucial, but doesn't tell the whole story since the map is in 2D. You can never tell if an enemy is above or below you, even if the map tells you it's right in front of your face.

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Graphics are done extremely well for a Jaguar title, although since it's 1998 now and the Playstation and Nintendo 64 are in full bloom, Skyhammer doesn't hold up well compared to similar games on contemporary systems. The environment is created in fine detail, and everything from flashing billboards to powerups are easily recognizable. Slightly more troubling than the graphics is in the control department. As is the case with a great majority of sci-fi Jaguar games (Hover Strike comes to mind), movement of your aircraft is "floaty", and not nearly as tight as it should be. The loose controls are most likely as a result of the relatively low framerate which has known to have killed the playability of more than a few games of Skyhammer's ilk.

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Still, there's a lot here to like, and you'll never confuse the title of being a Super Nintendo or 32X game. Had it been released at the time of its completion, Skyhammer would have held its own. But it's late '98 now, so if you're a multi-console gamer and a fan of Descent-type games, I'd recommend that you grab one of the more polished Playstation flight contests on the market today.

Title Skyhammer
Publisher Songbird Productions
System Atari Jaguar
Graphics 8
Sound 7
Gameplay 8
Overall 8
Reviewer Keita Iida

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