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Raptor (PC) artwork

Raptor (PC) review

"Raptor uses a vitality bar, so beginners wonít be intimidated as they would be by an R-Type-ish one hit wonder. That vitality bar can be extended if youíve got enough money. Money canít buy you love, but life - now thereís a perfectly reasonable investment."

The Shadows are calling. It's time to save the universe again.

Remember U.N. Squadron? The arcade hit horizontal shoot-em-up? Alright, so that doesnít narrow it down much. Consider this: U.N. Squadron was famous for allowing players to earn cash as they downed enemy planes, to use toward purchasing better weapons and planes. Raptor, actually a vertical shooter, follows this trend, making it the closest thing to an RPG that a twitch gamer will likely play. Plan your missions accordingly, rationing carefully, spending only where necessary. It sounds like an ideal mating of forethought and reflexes in a video game. But while that may well have been achieved in U.N. Squadron, but not here.

Sure, Raptor looks beautiful, even now. The graphics are sharp, vibrant, and extremely well detailed. Playing a vertical shooter on the PC was a rarity at the time of this gameís release - and it still is now, really - so to have Shareware kings Apogee not only present this unlikely game, but to present it with such visual impact, made for an extremely pleasant surprise.

Your ship is large and nicely drawn, as are the backgrounds of earthy landscape and still waters. Enemies also get the meticulous artistís treatment, though regrettably, their design is bland and uninspired; it seems that the Raiden standard alien attacker model was applied for the duration.

Raptor uses a vitality bar, so beginners wonít be intimidated as they would be by an R-Type-ish one hit wonder. That vitality bar can be extended if youíve got enough money. Money canít buy you love, but life - now thereís a perfectly reasonable investment. Missiles, gun pods, and shields can also augment your shipís basic attributes for the right price. The screen where you purchase your items is logically laid out, and attractive. Truly, spending money was never easier.

Itís earning the money thatís problematic. It's not that Raptor is hard; the vitality bar allows cack-handed maneuvers that would send you to the continue screen in short order in any other shooter. But Raptor is sorely lacking in the intensity department, and thatís the category that makes or breaks a shooter. Itís extremely slow on the whole, and thatís a recipe for utter failure. Some shooters give you a relatively slow fighter, but give enemies fast ships and bullets, forcing you to develop incredible dodging techniques (R-Type) to survive. Others give you a fast ship, with slower enemies firing faster and more numerous bullets (Darius) - a different combination to be sure, but it gets you sweating just the same. But to fashion a game starring a slow ship, going up against slow enemies, loosing slow projectiles, just doesnít add up.

Novice pilots will find the great graphics and thunderous explosions an attractive draw, and the 'build your ship' feature will likely interest both shooter fans who want something a little different, and average gamers bored by typically mindless shoot-em-ups. The die-hard shooter is the real loser here - for these players, Raptorís languorous pace will tragically compromise everything else the game does right.

What does this mean to you? If you want some twitch action with a twist, try Raptor at least once; itís certainly worth the free download. However, if youíre looking for a genuine thrill ride, give it only a passing look before looking elsewhere.

Masters's avatar
Staff review by Marc Golding (December 10, 2003)

There was a bio here once. It's gone now.

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