Where the hell is the grid?
You are Axxel, a space adventurer, exploring the Gridonian Asteroid Field. While exploring, you are captured by the evil Empress Vorga, and are forced to participate in her deadly game. Aside from this corny story, and the absence of a grid in the game, Grid Runner is still guaranteed to give you some hair-raising action.
To begin with, beautiful full motion video sequences grace the beginning of the game, and before each level. They look cool, and depict the story well (no matter how bad it is). Although it starts with cool video, the graphics during game play are far from revolutionary. Blocky characters, and so-so backgrounds complement a fairly cool environment to run around on. Basically, you are on a maze-like platform, and must a certain number of flags before the enemy does. Here's the catch: if you are 'it' (like in the kid's game 'tag') you can't capture flags. The first person to capture a flag in a level isn't 'it', and can continue capturing flags, but beware, your opponent is chasing after you, and if he touches you, you will be sent flying, and will be adorned 'it'. Now its your opponent's job to collect flags, while you chase him. Although this sounds rudimentary, it provides some truly hectic and exciting game play.
You're equipped with some items to help you along the way in your quest of winning Vorga's games. Your main weapon is the energy ball spell. When you hit your opponent with it, they are temporarily frozen. This is mainly used when you are trying to tag them and can be quite useful, if you are a good shot. You are also provided with a couple more spells to help you win, including slow, which makes your opponent slower, speed, which makes you run faster, teleport, which randomly puts you somewhere else on the map, and mines, which lays down a bomb behind you that will topple enemies if they touch it. You also come equipped with the build spell, which will build a small bridge, useful for crossing over between those close platforms. In addition to these things, there is a large assortment of power-ups to help you along the way.
Each opponent that you must face, lives on its own world, with different physics, and each opponent has its own special abilities. For example: the ice world is slippery, making it hard for you to maneuver. Your opponent there, Kolo, isn't effected by it and runs around normally, posing quite a threat while you're sliding around the map. Other special abilities of the enemies include unique spells, and different ways of firing their energy ball spell.
The music is a cool, futuristic, techno soundtrack. It's perfect for the game and makes the hairs on the back of your neck jump-up as you go for that final flag. The sound effects that accompany it are nothing special, but don't detract from the game.
There is a large amount of depth in this game. Besides the 15 worlds to play on - each with about 3 levels - there are secret levels to boot. The only problem with all these levels is that they are sometimes repetitive, and are too easy when playing against the computer.
The two player mode is a horizontal split screen, providing some good action for playing against a friend. But, alas, only on the same computer. That, and the fact that you cannot play more than 2 players simultaneously, are the major shortcomings of some potentially great action. Add modem and LAN support, and this could of been a great game.
The bottom-line is that Grid Runner, although it doesn't look too spiffy, is a fun and is an addictive game, and if you were a fan of Lode-Runner or Bomber Man, this game is definitely a good buy.