George Lucas and Paul Verhoeven… gettin’ it on.
Introducing Jet Force – an intergalactic team out to right wrongs, rid the world
of evil, help those in need, and good stuff like that. That is, until the Bugs
destroyed them all, save three members: Juno, Vela, and their little puppy, Lupus.
As the last bastion of good in the whole forsaken universe, Jet Force Gemini
must save the Tribals, a primitive bear-like race, from the nefarious Bugs under
Mizar’s rule. Hmmm…lots and lots of insects…cute, fuzzy creatures you want
to blow up… why, it’s the bastard child of Starship Troopers and Star Wars!
Juno, Vela, and Lupus start out the game separated from one another. You begin
by controlling Juno; once you find one of your teammates, you can switch characters.
Each character has his/her own set of levels as well as character specific attributes.
Juno has fire immunity, Vela swims, and Lupus has a floating jump.
You control your character from a third person point of view, with “semi-auto
targeting” – just face in the direction of your enemies and shots tend to head
towards them. During the many times you need more accuracy (like to take out
a sniper), just hit the top right button and switch into a first-person aiming
reticule. Getting used to any one control scheme does take time. While the controls
aren’t perfectly tight, with enough play, they’ll become almost second nature.
A key point to aiming is that the hairpins of the targeting system change
from green to red when bearing down on an enemy. You may not always be able
to see those insects or aim that easily while avoiding gunfire, but having that
visual guide helps significantly.
Ammo management is also highly stressed. You start out with limited weapons and only so much ammunition. You must find ammo backpacks to increase the capacity of your weapons. Early on, this forces you to get skilled with good aiming, rather than blind shooting.
Once you reunite your characters, you can revisit old stages with the different
characters. Revisiting stages is actually mandatory; in order to proceed to
the final stages, every Tribal must be found. Like the Jingos of Banjo
Kazooie, Tribals are scattered about the level, waiting to be rescued. While
it does stretch the replayability limits of each stage, having to collect every
single Tribal does provide a challenge. A somewhat tedious challenge, but challenge
The multiplayer mode has a somewhat tacked-on, last minute feel, even though
it does allow several modes of play and a healthy number of options. Basically,
you’re not buying the game for its multiplayer, but it’s an adequate diversion
with a pal. And if you just want some wacky fun, select the Targeting mode game
for two players and try to control both targets (a controller in each hand)
More interesting than multiplayer is the Cooperative mode. During the one
player game, you can put together a robot named Floyd. When Floyd is complete,
a second player can control Floyd and help out in the main game. Very cool.
Early on there isn’t
much graphical “oomph,” but once you get deeper into the game you’ll be impressed.
The whole fields of reflecting glass floors in Mizar’s Palace and the stunning
cut-scenes look beautiful. While there are some bothersome frame rate problems,
setting the game on wide-screen mode makes everything run significantly smoother,
resulting in a better game.
In the early stages of developement, Juno and Vela were super deformed – short,
squat, and cute. Somewhere along he way, Rare did a rehaul and upped them into
the lanky teenager period. Like every video game girl, Vela gets the Britney
Spears/Lara Croft boob treatment…not to sound like a woman’s activist, but
I’m getting a bit tired of enormous computer busts, particularly when coupled
with that residual “cute” look.
The game leans heavy on its Starship Troopers influence, and Juno and Vela really don’t have much character outside of squishing bugs. But I did like Lupus. Anytime you strap heavy artillery to a puppy’s back means sure-fire hi-jinks.
Musically, Jet Force Gemini tries to evoke its John William’s movie
influence and actually manages to get some pretty good music out of the N64.
It goes for a more operatic feel than the generic video game techno, and all
in the beauty of Dolby Surround sound. Sound effects are well done and immerse
you in a world of screaming ant drones, whizzing lasers, and squealing Tribals.
Starting out, you really have to settle into Jet Force Gemini – learning
the not-quite-perfect controls, figuring out multiple exits, and dealing with
some blurrier graphics takes time. Once you get into the swing of things, everything
begins to gel together. The tedium of going back and searching for Tribals is
countered by the pure fun of running around tearing through giant bugs with
lasers. Jet Force Gemini isn’t nearly on par with Goldeneye
but as a pure search-and-destroy, it has its moments.