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Publisher: Freeverse    Genre: Arcade
Min OS X: Any Version    CPU: G3 @ 333 MHz    RAM: 64 MB    Hard Disk: 330 MB

Active Lancer
January 8, 2004 | Sean Daly

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As a kid I would often hang out at Rosie’s Ice Cream pumping quarters into vertical scrolling games like 1942. Well, Rosie’s became an expansion for a local super market and the vertical scrolling genre virtually disappeared. Active Lancer brings that genre back with a vengeance.

As a member of the Active Lancer Corps your mission is to bring a can of “whoop-ass” to the “Cherries”, an alien race that is ugly and doesn’t like human expansion in the galaxy. Of course, you are the only survivor of an attack on the Cherrie’s home world. It is up to you to face the virtually unending waves of enemies in this frantic keyboard punching game.

Active Lancer’s graphics are crisp and clean. The game is a 2D vertical scroller and the graphics are very suitable. Your lancer and enemies have a nice roll effect when moving left and right giving it a subtle 3D look. Also, the terrain, though completely irrelevant to game play, has some nice features that creates a compelling alien environment. It is a nice planet, too bad it has to be destroyed.

A problem I ran into in the graphics was with the ground units. Your lancer has two fire types, primary for air units, and secondary for ground units. Several times I would fire at a ground unit with my primary weapon because I thought it was flying. After playing the game for awhile I was able to discern which was which through their movement. In other games of this genre it is usually easy to discern the two types of units by their appearance but since every unit is “alien” it was troublesome telling them apart.

This by far is the best element of the game. The sound is frantic just like the game play. The composer, Digital Droo (www.digitaldroo.com) has put together a wonderful techno soundtrack that keeps you pumped up as you play. Each level contains a new musical surprise of pumping rave-type rhythms.

The cheesy voice over acting during the cut scenes is another great element of the game. I found myself laughing out loud during the scenes. Eric Bratcher, who is the voice of our hero, must be a fan of the Evil Dead movies considering his “Ash” delivery style. “The Cherries are mine. Such a shame. This is such a pretty planet” is one of the early gems you get to enjoy. The cut scenes and dialog are a nice reward for completing a level. The production values of the cut scenes really do show the time and care that was put into this game. Active Lancer draws you in a way not often possible in simple shoot ‘em up games.

Game play
The game play is rather simple. Move up, down, right or left. It is achieved through quick reflexes. While one hand moves the Lancer, the other is attacking. One key is for the primary weapon which is used to eliminate all the many, and I mean many, enemies that come flying down at you. Another key is for the secondary fire which is used for ground units. There is a targeting reticule that helps you determine where your secondary attack will go. If you leave the reticule on the ground unit for a couple of seconds you get a target lock on the target resulting in two guided missiles that eliminate the target quickly and efficiently. It is quite difficult to stay still long enough to get a lock on a ground unit but when you do it is worth it. The two other keys are not fire keys but help you considerably. One is the Switch key. Switch allows the lancer to cycle between the three weapons. The laser, a quick fire attack that goes straight up doing concentrated damage; the plasma gun, guided projectiles that arc across the screen towards the enemy; and the spread fire, sending out several shots at once that spread out the farther they get away from the lancer much like a shotgun blast. Each is very useful in different situations in the game.


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