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The Fifth Element Review


PUBLISHER Activision 
T Contains Animated Violence

What do these ratings mean?

Uh...what happened to elements 1 through 4?

We all have that 'perfect' game somewhere in our heads, but few people ever get to realize their dream. Here's how it happens: some regular person, just like you or me, has a vision. They want to make a video game. They desperately need to make a video game. So they do what everyone in Hollywood eventually does...they go visit Satan.

Satan, of course, is always willing to make a deal (often at reasonable terms, and a low introductory interest rate). Our would-be game developer does just this, and no sooner has the ink dried that Satan gives them a shiny new contract and the resources to make a new game.

"Oh, there's just one more thing," says Satan, chuckling dryly. "According to your contract, you have to make the game based on a movie license."

"Hey, alright! Movie licenses are cool!...uh, hey, why are you smiling like that, Satan?"

"Mwahahahahaha!" Satan explains.

It really must be a curse. The list of bad games based on movies is nearly endless, and there are very few exceptions. From Batman to Jurassic Park to The Crow, games that should be pure gold come out stinking like last month's garbage.

Well, you should have already guessed by now that The Fifth Element is no exception. This is easily one of the worst games I've seen for the PlayStation in a long time -- bad graphics, lousy control, unbelievable bugs, and gameplay that is absolutely no fun whatsoever.

The game follows the movie fairly closely. You are Korben, the gun-toting disgruntled cab driver. In a quest to save the universe from evil, you must free a super-human laboratory experiment, which is really Milla Jovovich in a skimpy outfit. Her name is Leeloo. Then the wackiness begins. In the game, you will be forced to play as both these characters.

Lets start with those graphics, shall we? The Fifth Element uses the old Nightmare Creatures engine. One year later, Activision has made a game that looks even worse than the original Nightmare Creatures. Gone are the alleys and sewers of turn-of-the century London, to be replaced by lots of boring futuristic corridors that all use the same texture map. And frankly, this old 3D engine just doesn't work anywhere near as well as some of the newer ones, like those used in Gex or Spyro.

The characters themselves are rendered adequately, but are really dull. The biggest problem is that their movements are unnatural, ungraceful and unrealistic. Again, the year-old Nightmare Creatures did a better job.

One of the biggest problems with Nightmare Creatures was poor control. In The Fifth Element, the control has gotten worse. Response is slow and moves are few and useless. Korben can shoot and kick. Leeloo can punch and kick. The jumping is extremely awkward at best.

The enemies, mostly humans, are unbelievably stupid. Some will just stand there while you shoot them. Others may try to fight back, but you can just use the same move on them (kick, for example) over and over until they die. The combat system is just terrible.

And the sound...Oh, the sound. The Fifth Element has some major sound glitches. The sound is boring when it works, but that's not always the case. The synch on the video sequences is waaaaay off, making it look like a badly dubbed foreign film. During the game there are more sound problems than sound successes. The most noticeable is when Korben's gun fails to make any noise. BlamBlam! He blasts one enemy, then he turns and waves his gun silently at the next as phantom bullets strike home. This is simply inexcusable in a final release.

The only good thing about the sound is the lack of macho quips by Bruce Willis. Or perhaps they are there and we just can't hear them.

Poor level design...boring just never ends, but I can't go on. Let me sum it up by saying that The Fifth Element is simply not fun to play. Not even a little bit.

Shame on you, Activision, for releasing this turkey. Any one with half-a-brain could have told you to just write this one off your taxes and not release it at all. It is a stain on your good reputation, and now (this hurts me more than it hurts you) a black mark on your permanent record.

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