Core seem to be suffering from a spot of creative block at the moment. After some top-notch product, first they release a straight Ikari Warriors clone (Warzone, 65% from us in issue 2), and now they've come up with this, a vertically-scrolling shoot-'em-up taken directly from the Xenon 2 textbook. The problem for me is trying to find something new to say about it, so here goes.
No, I'm sorry. It's gone. Frenetic is a shoot-'em-up that more of less completely fails to stand out from the crowd in any way. The levels (of which there are eight) all have that 'seen-it-before' look to them (for example, level one is from Battle Squadron, level two is from Xenon 2, and level three's from Battle Squadron again), and the gameplay doesn't do anything to dispel the feeling. The bolt-on power-ups are pure Xenon 2 once more, and the most 'different' thing about the aliens is that you come across multiple-hit baddies rather earlier than you do in most games (hardly a good point in my book). Action-wise there's plenty going on, though, and the faster-than-usual scrolling backgrounds create an effective illusion of speed, although the game isn't actually any faster than the average. Oops, it's that 'A' word again.
Frenetic is a zappy enough little blaster, and very nicely put together, but if you compare it to something like R-Type II (also in this issue), it very quickly starts to look decidedly second-rate. You can see what they've been aiming at, but none of the promises made to us by the programmers when interviewed last issue really seem to have come off. Even at the 'reduced' £21 price point, you're not getting an awful lot for your money here, and I can't recommend it with any great sense of convinction at all.
I just couldn't get excited about playing this for the life of me. A bit of a waste of some slick programming.