Last Alert (Turbografx-CD) review
"Last Alert's 'advanced speech' is in stark contrast to its visuals: the game uses an overhead view (much like the one employed by Guerrilla War) to chronicle the adventures of our favourite Guy, who happens to be a bruising special forces bad ass (of course)."
Last Alert isn’t bad. Its story is, to be sure: the world is in peril at the hands of a four-headed terrorist team featuring a Chinese mafia don and a Spanish pseudo-cyborg, and only a heavily-muscled Guy Kazama can stop them. (The U.S. president actually implores Guy to save the world, because, of course, no one else can.)
While it’s true that we don’t play these old school war-themed games for their stories, there were better war-themed games, even back when this thing wasn’t a relic. Bloody Wolf, for example, on the same system, is significantly better. Bloody Wolf’s characters are bigger and more detailed, its levels far more interesting and varied, its soundtrack much more memorable. Remarkable, when you consider that Bloody Wolf is a mere Hu-Card, and Last Alert is a CD title. So what the hell did they do with all the additional storage space?
Well, it seems the developers used it to create nonsensical, laughable cinematic interludes between levels, and kitsch-heavy tough talk to end them. There is real speech, which was a big deal back then, but the voice acting is so horrendous, it’s hard to appreciate. Hearing the good guys rattle on about which threat Guy needs to eliminate next is almost as painful as hearing the bosses trash-talk when Guy catches up with them.
Last Alert's 'advanced speech' is in stark contrast to its visuals: the game uses an overhead view (much like the one employed by Guerrilla War) to chronicle the adventures of our favourite Guy, who happens to be a bruising special forces bad ass (of course). A little map that reminds me of the one in U.N. Squadron shows you where you’re about to be dropped to engage in battle before each level begins.
You begin the proceedings with a handgun, graduate to an UZI, then an M-16, and so on. The first upgrade simply increases the rate of fire of your weapon, but by the time you’ve upgraded a few times, you’ll be firing a three-way spread, and then a five-way spread, and finally four rockets at a time. Besides your primary firearms, you get secondary weapons, ranging from typical fare such as grenades and flamethrowers, to decidedly stranger, arcadey fare, like four-way rockets and robot-orb helpers.
Foes swarm in great numbers, eager to be fodder for your guns. They rush at you from all angles, not so much firing at you as leaving little white bullets on the screen, almost always a second too late to find you -- they only confound with sheer numbers. Success can be had pretty easily by moving along briskly, weaving through the slow hail and picking your spots; even Guy needn’t kill every enemy he sees.
The screen will stop scrolling when you meet up with a boss, who will invariably offer chest-pounding blather before you gun him down. The first few bosses may actually require some strategy on your part to take out, but once you have the three-way spread or better in your possession, you can just crowd the bosses and they’ll regularly succumb to your in-close storm before you take damage twice.
Last Alert is a decent distraction – it will give you a good dose of shoot-em-up action. Its problem is that it’s probably too long, and it’s too much of the same thing throughout. You’ll go through levels upon levels which utilize the same basic area design remixed with minor changes (climate is always a favourite). Occasionally, a mission will offer something novel, such as the prison areas where you can rush cells and rescue prisoners of war – but most often you’ll encounter the usual wide open areas interrupted thoughtlessly with abandoned military vehicles, buildings and trenches, and capped off with another boss you can plow through in less time it takes for him to get his threats in.
If you have a Turbo, and crave some Bloody Wolf-esque action, then Last Alert is definitely worth a look if you can find it for cheap. Just don’t be fooled into believing that it being on CD makes it special – it’s not.
Staff review by Marc Golding (May 01, 2008)
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