Think Gauntlet on Crack
Take No Prisoners, a top-down action game, tries to fill a gap in the action game genre so heavily populated by the first person shooter. It looks like a modern update to the arcade classic Gauntlet, and it plays similarly. The developers at Raven succeed fairly well with the game, offering 3D accelerated graphics that aren’t too shabby as well as plenty of violence, gore, weapons, and enemies. Take No Prisoners is definitely a step towards expanding the action genre and is good, gun-slinging fun at the same time.
You are Slade, a Special Ops commando before the nuclear war. You’re looking for a way out of the radiation filled land, and your salvation can only be found in the Dome. Many people have attempted to reach the Dome but have died on the way. You need to find a way into the Dome to save yourself.
This basic premise plays out well in the game. You can freely go around the world looking for clues and items in your quest to enter the Dome. This freedom of movement suits Take No Prisoners well and lets the player decide what needs to be done instead of being a linear bore-fest. Locations vary from underground sewers to city streets to train stations to zoos. Still, no matter where you are, the goal is the same – blow up everything and find an item.
The graphics in Take No Prisoners are different than what most people are used to. Since it is a top-down game, all the characters are sprites. This really isn’t a problem as they are drawn nicely and scale well. What people aren’t used to is a 3D world that can only be seen from the top. The polygonal worlds are textured well and look great. The sprites for the weapons are decent, but pale to the character sprites and look out of place. Yet the variety of weapons is refreshing – the game boasts 21 weapons and 22 different combat items. Just playing with many of the weapons is fun, and watching them send the enemies’ blood flying is also just as good a diversion.
One added bonus that many games lack is the use of vehicles. Take No Prisoners includes a flying hovercraft, a gun turret, and many others. These vehicles both add strategy and fun to gameplay that could otherwise be repetitive.
The music is notable – it’s not just your usual videogame fluff that repeats incessantly in the background. It fits well into the environment and is composed well. The sound, too, adds a lot of character to the game – blood squirts and machine gun fire are both heard in stereo glory.
Multi-player will remind you of all those times you spent playing Gauntlet in the arcade when you were a kid. You can play over a LAN, a modem, or the Internet in a variety of different game formats. There is the standard deathmatch, hunt the assassin, and arsenal, where everyone gets the same weapons to equal the odds so that you can find out who really is the best. There are four more ways to play multi-player on top of those three, adding a great depth of replay to the game. Duke it out at the Alamo or a variety of other locales in some of the most fun you’ll ever have in a multi-player game.
Still, not everything is hunky-dory. Some of the game’s levels feel repetitive – running through halls doing the tried and true “push-button-get-item” philosophy that has been in effect since Id introduced Wolfenstein all those years back. The art in the menus, while not an important part of the game, seems a little unprofessional, especially since the font used in the info screen appears to have been taken from Autodesk Animator Pro, an old DOS graphics package. The developers must have also seen Star Wars because one of the weapons Slade starts out with is a “battle saber” that looks suspiciously like Luke Skywalker’s light saber. Take No Prisoners is still fun, but these quirks take away from the gaming experience.
Take No Prisoners is a fresh take on the PC action genre. Although it looks a lot like Gauntlet, the PC hasn’t had (to my recollection) a game of this type. And in defining new areas for the PC, it does it well. The multi-player depth is unprecedented (except maybe by the unending configurability of Quake), the sound and music are executed with perfection, and the game’s graphics are darn good. Take No Prisoners is a fun game that stands out in a crowded action market.