Project X (Team 17) Review | Amiga Power - Everygamegoing

Amiga Power

Project X
By Team 17
Amiga 500

Published in Amiga Power #13

Project X

After Team 17's tremendous cover demo on last month's issue of Amiga Power, the world at large was expecting Project X to wipe out the competition. Sometimes though, life's just a bit unpredictable (and more than a touch disappointing).

Okay. Here's a little dilemma for all you budding game reviewers out there. You see a preview of a new game. It looks absolutely wonderful. You rave about it and tell everyone to go out and buy the game the second it appears in the shops. Some time later, the real thing shows up. It's not nearly as good as you'd been hoping for. Do you bite the bullet and admit you got it wrong, or do you brazen it out, rely on breathless enthusiasm to sell your earlier impression and hope nobody notices?

Well, as a wise man once said, "Admitting you were mistaken in the past is in fact no more than saying that you are now a wiser man than you used to be," and that's good enough for me. Which is something I'm afraid I can't really say about Project X.

You're Only A Wish Away

Project X

There's a forceful argument that says something that's nearly brilliant is often a far, far worse thing than that which is simply mediocre. The principle being that when you're just a whisker from perfection, the flaws which stop you from attaining it suddenly become drastically more important, simply because they are standing in the way of that perfection. They can seem to loom so large, like a particularly ugly oil refinery in the middle of an otherwise breathtaking landscape, that they overshadow the whatever-it-is's numerous good points completely and make you hate it, although objectively it is, of course, nearly perfect. You know what's coming now, don't you?

Falling At The Last Hurdle

Yup, Project X is nearly brilliant, which is to say that it's one of the most irritating and infuriating games you'll ever play in your life. You may be wondering why this review only includes screenshots from the first two levels. The reason is that, after three days of solid play by the entire Amiga Power team, not one of us got further than about halfway through level two, and that only twice. (In fact I was the only one who made it off level one at all!)

This is a game so incredibly mean-spirited that if you haven't finished R-Type without cheating, I wouldn't suggest that you even try it. More than any other shoot-'em-up I've seen, Project X is completely power-up-centred, to the extent that if you lose a life (and with it the vast majority of your power-ups - lose two lives in a row and you're back to the weediest weaponry there is, no matter how hard you were before), you're as well to hit the abort button and start again, such as the miniscule magnitude of your chance of getting any further. This is compounded to an uncomfortable degree by two things.

First, Last And Always

Project X

Firstly, and less importantly, the game seems prone to an occasional bug which plays havoc with the power-up system - sometimes collecting a token can, instead of making the weapons bar progress to the next add-on, inexplicably make it return to the first icon (speed-up). Secondly, the method of selecting a power-up is to either hit space (necessitating a lunge away from the keyboard which is ill-affordable in a game of non-stop high-speed action like this one) or to waggle the joystick rapidly back and forth Xenon-style. This is fine in theory but, as in Xenon, it proves disconcertingly easy to do it by mistake and select a weapon which you really didn't want. Switch inadvertently from an eight-times-enhanced plasma beam weapon to a poxy double-shot gun in the middle of a heavy attack wave on level two (as I did) and you might as well wave bye bye to the whole game, all the effort expended on getting that far completely wasted.

Opting For Charlie Sheen Mode

The game does offer you a 'Rookie' skill setting, but it only lets you play the first two levels (like, thanks all to pieces), and a level select which lets you start (power-up-less) on the last level you reached, but only up to and including the third level of the game's six. Big deal. There's more, but hang on, it's nearly summer, let's try and be positive.

A Last-Ditch Effort

Project X isn't short on good points. You can select one of three ships of differing characteristics for your mission, allowing you to tailor your tactics a particular way. The weapons and ship interact imaginatively, with powerful weapons both detracting from the other weapons and hampering the handling of your craft.

Project X

The speech samples are atmospheric and helpful. The graphics are stunning (see for yourself!) and Team 17 have listened admirably to criticism of their earlier Alien Breed which said it was too easy to complete. Unfortunately, they've gone hurtling off in the opposite direction and made a game that only a superhuman's going to see the end (or even the second half) of. Project X doesn't even apparently have a cheat mode, so unless you're the kind of person who found R-Type II just all too easy, forget about this forever.

I'm depressed now.

The Bottom Line

Uppers: Well, you can't say it's not challenging, and it looks and sounds undeniably beautiful. The five most talented arcade gamers in the country will love it for certain.

Downers: The insane, unfair difficulty level makes for one of the most frustrating games we've seen in ages, and the bugs and control quirks push it just the wrong side of intolerably annoying.

More of a thrown gauntlet than a game to actually enjoy, at least this is something you'll get a lot of life out of, as long as your own doesn't end in a high-blood-pressure-induced heart attack first. With no cheat mode, though, I fear most people won't even see half of it.

Stuart Campbell

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