Hose 'em down!!
Think what you will of Bruce Willis, but this guy's a marketing genius. After a stint in television and comedic movies, he cuts a music album (ugh.). Then he dives head first into action-hero superstardom, joining up with fellow action stars in building an enormously wealthy restaurant franchise. He marries a bitchy actress with a killer body, and now he's in an Activision video game. But the most surprising part of this story is that Apocalypse is a pretty good game.
Like a good action flick, this game is weak on plot and big on special effects and eye-candy. Willis was motion-captured and "cyberscanned" for Apocalypse, resulting in ultra-realistic movements, mannerisms, facial expressions and some fantastic FMV sequences. If you're a Willis fan, you'll immediately recognize his trademark cockeyed smirk.
I'd explain the plot, but I hardly think you'd buy into it. Suffice to say that Willis' character, Trey Kincaid, is out to stop the end of the world in a Jerry Bruckheimer-style testosterone supercharged story. However, so as not to alienate any vidiot geeks out there (like me), Kincaid is not only Super Macho Man, but described as a "brilliant scientist" as well.
Apocalypse has a lot of the classic Contra flavor. You run around until you reach the end of the level while wiping out everything, and I literally mean everything, in your path. Choose from eight different weapons, like the trusty ol' flamethrower to the particle beam (which kind of looks like that ion stream from Ghostbusters) and kill, maim, destroy and just plain hurt the baddies. At other times, Apocalypse plays like an annoying platformer; jumping on moving platforms, balancing on ledges, and one bad step can spell instant death.
The game really needs the dual-analog controller, one for moving and the other for firing like in Robotron or Smash TV. Playing Apocalypse for more than an hour with the d-pad spells a-r-t-h-r-i-t-i-s.
Extra marks for the amount of gratuitous blood in the game. Several times you'll shoot off the baddie's head and the lifeless corpse will fall limply to its knees while the stump shoots off gushing fountains of the red stuff. Hehe.
Graphics are top-notch and Activision appears to have dug deep in their bag of tricks forApocalypse. Everything looks good; from the ambient backgrounds to the spectacular lighting effects and explosions. Some incidental pop-up is evident, but nothing too heinous.
The sound in the game is great; play it on a good stereo system and get ready for some bone-jarring explosions. There's limited speech in the game, mainly consisting of trite one-liners such as, "You want some?" and "These guys need a little more lead in their diet." The speech gets repetitive after a while, as Willis' character repeats the same 15 phrases over and over again.
The camera is the weakest link in this game as it is non-adjustable. This makes looking around your surroundings an impossibility and sometimes you'll have to make some borderline leap-of-faith jumps. As expected, a fixed camera allows all kinds of things to obstruct your view.
Let's talk FMV for a moment, which is one of the most eye-pleasing parts of the game. In between levels, you're treated to a short clip that advances the plot (mainly to justify some of the weaker elements of the story). The rendered 3D animation is as smooth as frozen Absolut and surprisingly, Bruce Willis looks exactly like Bruce Willis; not some blocky head with his face smeared on it. The motion-captures are awesome, displaying every little mannerism that you'll recognize from his action flicks. Full speech, fantastic backgrounds, and Willis' witty one-liners round out some of the best FMV I've seen in a game.
Apocalypse is pure non-stop action and eye-candy. It's not a bad game from a movie star, and definitely worth looking into.