TEMPEST X3 REVIEW - December 1996
|Another 10, eh? You're probably going to
need some convincing on this one. For a start, static magazine screenshots aren't the
best medium for displaying the overwhelming sensory assault you're subjected to in
Tempest X. And you may possibly also be the kind of idiot who insists that a game's
no good unless it's making the maximum possible use of every hardware facility
available to it. (Yeah, just like Tetris did. And Super Mario World really pushed the SNES
to its very limits, didn't it?) So we'll get straight to the point.
This is the most all-out, heart-pounding, nerve-tearing, sense-dazzling thrill you'll ever get from a video games machine. You might have thought Wipeout 2097 was fast and exciting (and hey, it is), but it feels like a ride on a milk float compared to this. Tempest X's predecessor (the Atari Jaguar's Tempest 2000, or T2K to its friends) was rightly acclaimed by one magazine at the time as "The Game Of The Decade", but this purer, colder, harder new breed has had a massive overhaul and respray, and now even T2K's awesome benchmark looks a little staid by comparison. Tempest X has more levels (128 compared to 100), fiendish new web designs (clearly constructed by people who knew exactly what made the original game tick, too), evil new enemies, techno-tastic new music and shattering new sounds, and most of all, dizzying new visual pyrotechnics that'd make Jean-Michel Jarre at his most extravagant cough and look a little embarrassed. Do we sound excited? Good.
Still, enough hyperbole. Let's answer some criticism.
"But it's just a 15-year-old shoot-'em-up with some flashing lights and nosebleed techno."
Sigh. So what? Eric Cantona's twice that age, and he's just George Best with a skinhead. Anyway, Tempest X adds so much to the original gameplay that it's hardly recognisable. Genius is timeless.
"But it's 128 screens of the same thing - it's so repetitive."
Yeah, and in Tekken 2 you just go around beating people up over and over again. In Ridge Racer you just drive around and around in circles. What's your point?
"But it's not going to impress my mates when they come round."
Ha. Turn the lights off, crank the sound up to full, switch to Trippy Mode and watch their minds melt out of their eyesockets. Then ask them if they're impressed. (Although they'll probably just gurgle.) Yes, it's abstract. But it's also absolutely beautiful. If you want to look at real life, look out of your window.
"But with everything going off all at once, you just can't see what's happening."
No. Nothing ever happens in Tempest X that you can't see. It does, however, demand every last nuance of your concentration. Take your eyes off it for a millisecond and it'll run you down like a juggernaut. You'll need all your reflexes, all your co-ordination, all your senses and all your skill. But not luck.
"But it looks rubbish. It's just lines."
Please go away and fall under a bus.
There's some other stuff to point out here - you also get a version of the original Tempest (better than the Jaguar's version of the original, but still not as good as the real real thing), and a slight-but-smart two-player game. The music is fabulous, and the whole thing loads in one go at the start, so you never have to see the dreaded "Loading...Please Wait" so beloved of PS programmers. There is no "plot".
But these are fripperies and technicalities. This shining, glittering, malevolent titan of a game is the best shoot-'em-up ever created on any format, and by a thousand million kilometres. It's arguably the best game ever created full stop. It may well not be a hit. It's your decision. It'll be your loss.
DEVELOPER: High Voltage