Review - Immercenary

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Review - Immercenary

Post by Trev » Wed Jun 04, 2008 5:37 pm

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Popular thinking is that you never get a 2nd chance to make a 1st impression. It seems though, that popular thinking is ignorant of this mostly forgotten 3DO game Immercenary. But why is it that this game is ‘mostly forgotten'? Surely the 3DO was such a mainstream hit that all of it’s titles would be known among gamers. :P In seriousness, this game may have been forgotten because few gave it a second look. I know … I was almost one of them.

There are a number of perfectly understandable reasons why all but the most hard-core 3DO fan chose not to devote much time to this game. And likewise, there are a number of perfectly good reasons why the should have. Let’s take a look at some of Immercenary’s weak points and see how they stand up under closer scrutiny.

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From the start, I’m guessing that the full motion video probably turned off a lot of gamers. The actors are not especially good, and their dialogue is questionable. You will be seeing a lot of them in the early going too, and most of it will be them shooting disapproving glares at you.

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If one can look past this though, the story is actually solid. I admit that most games of this type (first person shooter) don’t actually need much in terms of story, but it does add to Immercenary. And I bet that if you can persevere far enough into the game to see the story develop, you will begin to get into it. Still, this is but a small part of the game.

Graphics however are not. For many this is the biggest part of any game (whether this is a fair view or not is debatable) Immercenary’s graphics do not appear to be anything special at first glance. Some spots may even appear like a rushed launch title. Of course early on you won’t get much of a chance to see them anyway (more on that in a bit) but still they seem rather weak.

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The more you play however, the more you will probably begin to appreciate a number of Immercenary’s graphical tricks. Things like the raging lightning storms for instance, have very nice effects. Likewise, the bosses that you later encounter are imaginatively detailed. Things such as these give pause to the argument of weak graphics. Again though, these are things that you will not see enough of unless you progress into the game.

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My favorite thing about Immercenary’s graphics is the world itself. While they can’t match it’s namesake (Perfect) they are very good in the fact that they offer something quite different. Gone are the dark & cramped corridors seen in a variety of 1st person shooters of the day, including a number found on 3DO. Instead we are given bright, colorful, wide open terrain. Each “district” of the world looks unique and distinct thanks to a variety of objects and buildings. Of course (to beat a dead horse) these are things that can not be fully appreciated unless time is given to this game.
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The main enemies in Immercenary are, sadly, for the most part bland color swapped stick figures. Compared to similar games on 3DO these fare quite badly. But if you are persistent (the dead horse is starting to stink :roll: ) and make it to the bosses you will find very creative creatures that vary wildly in look and speech (not to mention attack patterns) The fmv actors portraying them are almost always good (in sharp contrast to your support team) and they have interesting costumes and funny dialogue. I was driven to see what crazy creatures I’d encounter next … I wont spoil any for you. One thing I will point out though is that each has their own private agenda. As you will discover, the relationships between them are sometimes complex.

Probably the most well known feature of Immercenary (to the extent that it has one) is it’s difficulty. It would not be an understatement to say that Immercenary is very challenging. It would also not be an understatement to say that it’s challenge was poorly implemented.

Simply put, Immercenary does things backwards. Most games (and when I say most I mean like 99.9%) start off fairly slow and then gradually ramp up the difficulty to wean you in. Even the most brutal games usually have at least one or two “regular” levels. Not so with Immercenary, which tries to distinguish itself from most every game ever made by throwing it’s crazy difficulty at you instantly!

One way to illustrate it … imagine an rpg where your character only has, say 5 hit points. And each early level foe takes away 3 points with each hit. So, 2 hits and you are dead. And these foes appear within 5 seconds of the games start … yeah :?

Amazingly (or possibly stupidly) the game actually gets easier as you progress further into it! How many people actually realize this is a mystery since few would get to a point when this became apparent (the horse is starting to attract the buzzards :evil: )

This is a tough point to defend, and I confess that I personally think this design was indeed a rather big mistake on the part of the developers at 5 miles out. But it must be said that in spite of this foolish flaw, it does make it very satisfying to advance in this game. Finally hitting a point when you can make progress without dying every few seconds not only should give your ego a boost 8) but it opens up the best parts of Immercenary that you otherwise would not see. Near the end of the game in fact, you should be so strong there is nowhere you can not go. Enemies will be cut down with ease, and even the bosses hiding in the various buildings should prove only a minor annoyance.
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Speaking of minor annoyances, the control in this game is fine, although it will likely take a bit of practice to get used to stopping … sort of feels like you are gliding on ice. Balance is needed as you do need to move quick to escape clusters of enemies intent on your destruction. The drawback is that this quickly drains your agility rating, which at the beginning is virtually non existent (along with your other stats) Move to fast and you’ll shoot by a recharge point which you need to make smart use of in order to survive.

Sound effects in this game are average at best, but I rather enjoyed the music. It switches appropriately depending on your location. Fight a boss and it gets intense, reach the safe zone and it gets relaxing (you will be hearing this music a lot I’m sure) I think the tracks were a good choice to convey the strange and mysterious world of Immercenary. In any event, they are memorable, which is more than I can say for many video games, 3DO or not.

Despite being very much in the Doom mold, Immercenary manages to stand out from the rest of the crowd. It’s story, open world structure, bosses, etc… make it worthy to share shelf space among the many good 3DO games (even given the number of 1st person shooters found on 3DO) It may have done a lot to alienate mainstream gamers when it was first released, but it seems that time has been kind to it. In spite of its list of flaws I do give it a recommendation, especially to those who have tried (and disliked) it in the past. Stick with it and you’ll be rewarded with a game that really does get better as it goes along. :)

-Trev
Last edited by Trev on Wed Feb 08, 2012 3:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by 3DOKid » Wed Jun 04, 2008 6:52 pm

That's a cracking review mate. And I agree. It's so hard at the beginning, that it's easy to be put off.

I admit to loving the game, and fondly remember playing it to completion.

It kind of reminds me of Tron in a way this. Tron meets Assassin Creed. Perhaps? Sort of. Via a funky looking dentists chair you propelled through time to assassinate people from different regions of a pseudo alien world.

You can go anywhere, at anytime, and attack anyone. You'll get your butt kicked, but you can do it.

Nice one. Thank you very much!

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Post by Trev » Wed Jun 04, 2008 7:07 pm

Glad you liked it. Hopefully my gaps between posting reivews won't be quite so long in the future.

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Re: Review - Immercenary

Post by UnholyTancred » Wed Jun 04, 2008 7:35 pm

Trev wrote:One way to illustrate it … imagine an rpg where your character only has, say 5 hit points. And each early level foe takes away 3 points with each hit. So, 2 hits and you are dead. And these foes appear within 5 seconds of the games start … yeah :?
Haha, reminds me of those old RPGs on the NES. I remember getting wiped out in my first random encounter in Might And Magic.

Great review. I liked the game.
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Post by mosul210 » Sun Jan 18, 2009 10:37 pm

I guess I am in the group that really did not get this game. The graphics were subpar whe compared to other titles. The soundtrack - did it even have a soundtrack? I did not care too much for the game play, very repetitive and I bored of it very quickly. This may have been the first game I sold from my original 3DO collection. I say avoid it unless you are a fan of it.

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Post by NikeX » Mon May 18, 2009 1:56 pm

Thank you, I think I'm buyin it for 12 EUROs. But, what do you mean with "recharge point" - what is it's function? Can I recharge (whatever) unlimited times? How are the areas connected? Open World or transport systems? You wrote, it's like gliding on Ice. So, it's similiar to PO'ed.

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Post by Trev » Mon May 18, 2009 2:44 pm

Recharge points are scattered around in each district and while they are not unlimited, the random lightning storms max them out every few mins. There is a safe haven though where you can visit constantly. Haven't played Po'ed recently, but I'll check to compare the controls & see if the inertia is similar. And yes it is all open world, but the bosses are tucked away in buildings and such.

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Post by NikeX » Tue May 19, 2009 8:50 pm

Ok, that sounds good. Safe haven. But a turned around game difficulty... But, I'm going to buy it. I liked Lawnmower Man on the SNES and I have a fable for V.R.

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Post by tinman » Mon Aug 10, 2009 7:13 am

I love this game and have played it through many, many, many times.

One thing I did note last time I played it. You know how once you get to a certain rank, you can't go any further until, you fight a sub-boss, be it Balkan, Tesla, Fly or the others!

Anyway with my copy of the game if I try to play the game to the design I found I could only get to rank 42 (I think!..its been a while) before things would get weird. By weird I mean the world of "the Garden" would be devoid of any enemies, no Goners, no Picassos, no Davids and effectively the game would ONLY continue if I went to the Stadium to take on Loki/Raven and Perfect1. This is despite the fact I may not have taken on some of the higher sub bosses. Effectively the game was ushering me to complete it. :shock:
It may be because I had already maxed out my offense/defense and agility power levels, that it wasn't necessary for me to take on these other sub-bosses (Chance, Chameleon, Riberto)

Anyone else notice this :?:

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Post by Vil » Tue Aug 25, 2009 6:35 am

Loved this game. I can't believe nobody has reviewed Pataank!

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Post by 3DOKid » Tue Aug 25, 2009 7:24 am

Vil wrote:Loved this game. I can't believe nobody has reviewed Pataank!
crack on then. Chop-chop.

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Post by Trev » Thu Aug 27, 2009 1:42 am

PaTaank is one of my favorite 3DO games (top 25 for sure) I'd love to review it but I feel I should empty my back catalog of reviews first (which stands at nearly 30 :roll: ) Plus, I've got 2 jag reviews just waiting for my next day off to post. Still, I'm hopeful to post one if nobody beats me to it.

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Post by phatrat1982 » Fri Jun 17, 2011 4:37 am

thank you for reminding me what why I forgot I even played this game. It was so awful and boring that I convinced myself I never even played any 3DO games and then you reminded me that oh yeah I did get that thing working once.

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Post by Austin » Fri Jun 17, 2011 5:09 am

I found the game to be difficult to get into, too. I didn't like it in the '90s, and I tried giving it an honest attempt last year.. That didn't last long. I think I will try one more time when I hook the 3DO back up later on this year..

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Post by Trev » Fri Jun 17, 2011 10:05 am

The game gives a bad first impression, I admit ... a shame as it really is good once you get over the initial difficulty hump.
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Post by T2KFreeker » Wed Jan 04, 2012 3:14 am

After reading the review, I have to track it down again. Been so long since I have played. Great review though. I remember getting a bit into the game and then losing it. Appears my Sister jacked it from me. :lol: I let her keep it because she doesn't have many 3DO games and really seemed to enjoy it, so there it is.
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Post by Trev » Wed Jan 04, 2012 4:06 am

Glad you liked the review. I think its one of my better ones, probably because I like the game so much. It grows on you.
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Post by elitegamer » Sun Jan 29, 2012 4:55 am

Yeah, this review is really vivid and descriptive Trev. I've been considering some different software (games) and it just so happens I give Immercenary a YouTube gander. I was impressed initially by the characters brightness of color as you suggested, but the combat sequence put me off tremendously! I've never been the RPG gamer though but I'm striving to expand my gaming horizons and in general, my gaming experience.

I'll have to admit though. This is a very detailed review and even against my better judgment I have to say that I'm going to hopefully tract down a copy. I just hope my better judgment doesn't bite in the fanny.

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Post by 3DOKid » Sun Jan 29, 2012 7:08 am

elitegamer wrote:Yeah, this review is really vivid and descriptive Trev. I've been considering some different software (games) and it just so happens I give Immercenary a YouTube gander. I was impressed initially by the characters brightness of color as you suggested, but the combat sequence put me off tremendously! I've never been the RPG gamer though but I'm striving to expand my gaming horizons and in general, my gaming experience.

I'll have to admit though. This is a very detailed review and even against my better judgment I have to say that I'm going to hopefully tract down a copy. I just hope my better judgment doesn't bite in the fanny.
Immercenary bites everyone, about 300 times on the first play!

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Post by Trev » Sun Jan 29, 2012 7:13 am

Tis true. I've beaten the game ... but you wouldn't know it if you watched me try & play it the other day ... seriously, you'd think it was the first time I'd ever popped it in my 3DO, I stunk so bad! :P
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Post by JohnnyDude » Sun Jan 29, 2012 10:10 pm

Trev wrote:Tis true. I've beaten the game ... but you wouldn't know it if you watched me try & play it the other day ... seriously, you'd think it was the first time I'd ever popped it in my 3DO, I stunk so bad! :P
I kinda wish they hadn't made it so that when you die you lose stuff (even stats!). If that hadn't done this, the game probably would have been more manageable.

Did you know that if you press L+R together at the same time it will let you stop on a dime? That made the controls manageable for me.

I also wish L and R had been regular ol' strafe, instead of a single "side step". I even added some code to 4DO to force those keys to act like turbo keys, but the strafing was still crappy. I guess strafing woulda made it too easy though.

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Post by Trev » Sun Jan 29, 2012 10:39 pm

JohnnyDude wrote: I also wish L and R had been regular ol' strafe, instead of a single "side step". I even added some code to 4DO to force those keys to act like turbo keys, but the strafing was still crappy. I guess strafing woulda made it too easy though.


Thats cool that you did that, even if it didn't turn out like you had hoped. I agree the control has some quirks, and further adds to the challenge.
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Post by Trev » Wed Feb 08, 2012 3:18 pm

Updated w/some nice pics. Enjoy.
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Post by goldenband » Wed Jun 06, 2012 6:59 am

This was the first 3DO game I ever completed. To my surprise, I enjoyed it quite a bit! The initial learning curve was very steep, but at heart it's just a gussied-up version of the old Mac game Spectre, with a touch of the old, hardcore RPGs that forced you to go back to town every few fights until you leveled up a lot. Once you figure out that most of the jargon can be ignored, you can get down to the business of stalking your foes and crashing their algorithms.

It's a pity that the game essentially requires what might be called savegame abuse -- otherwise your stats get trashed much too easily -- but at least it keeps things from getting frustrating. There are lots of nice touches, like the map feature which is incredibly helpful and surprisingly intuitive once you get on its wavelength. The early boss fights were fun and challenging, but later they became too easy; oddly, I found that most of the items were borderline useless.

And of course the game is chock full of early 1990s FMV cheese. (Love that outfit on the woman in the intro!) Unfortunately most of the plot and dialogue aren't really relevant, and the conversations in the DOAsys actually make the game seem more confusing than it is.

I don't know whether it's really a good game, but I had fun with Immercenary and suspect I'll always think of it fondly. It makes me want to get more FPSes for the 3DO; I'm very curious about Killing Time, but don't know where I'll find a copy of the bugfixed version...

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Post by Trev » Wed Jun 06, 2012 7:08 pm

Yay, another Immercenary fan! You are in good company. 8)
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Re: Review - Immercenary

Post by Martin III » Fri Jun 21, 2013 2:06 pm

Awesome review, covering the important points in a direct, to-the-point, yet entertaining manner. Makes me think I shouldn't bother to do one myself, at least not for these boards. Although I might do one simply because there are some points I thought important which aren't mentioned (or at least not emphasized) in your review. For instance, is it just me, or is the draw distance in this game insanely cool? I love scoping out a distant gang of feuding rithms, trying to pick the best moment to jump into the fray. And the way you can see far-off spires stretching above the buildings really helps give you that sense of being in an actual virtual city.

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Re: Review - Immercenary

Post by Trev » Fri Jun 21, 2013 9:38 pm

Martin III wrote:Awesome review, covering the important points in a direct, to-the-point, yet entertaining manner. Makes me think I shouldn't bother to do one myself, at least not for these boards. Although I might do one simply because there are some points I thought important which aren't mentioned (or at least not emphasized) in your review. For instance, is it just me, or is the draw distance in this game insanely cool? I love scoping out a distant gang of feuding rithms, trying to pick the best moment to jump into the fray. And the way you can see far-off spires stretching above the buildings really helps give you that sense of being in an actual virtual city.
Thanks for the kind words. This is probably one of my better reviews.

Your points are good though, and it doesn't really matter if there is more than 1 review for the same game (the boards already have some duplicate reviews) If you did post another one, you could mention how you view it as an rpg for instance. I've never seen Immercenary this way, but I've heard others mention it.

These forums need more reviews. I haven't posted many lately, but I hope to start again soon.
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Re: Review - Immercenary

Post by Austin » Fri Jun 21, 2013 9:47 pm

Trev wrote:and it doesn't really matter if there is more than 1 review for the same game (the boards already have some duplicate reviews)
I was thinking the same. The more the better!

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Re: Review - Immercenary

Post by Martin III » Sat Jun 22, 2013 3:16 am

Trev wrote:Your points are good though, and it doesn't really matter if there is more than 1 review for the same game (the boards already have some duplicate reviews) If you did post another one, you could mention how you view it as an rpg for instance. I've never seen Immercenary this way, but I've heard others mention it.
The thing is, I think in this case there would be too much overlap as far as content. With Trip'd, in contrast, I've thought about reviewing that one even though you've already posted a review with the same overall assessment of the game as I have, simply because I'd talk about different points than you did. Haven't gotten around to actually writing said review, but I see no reason not to do it. As far as the RPG thing, I think your review already covered the game's RPG aspects as well as they can be covered.

In any case, this doesn't mean one less 3DO review from me; it just means it'll be a review of a different game.

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Re: Review - Immercenary

Post by Trev » Sat Jun 22, 2013 5:13 am

Martin III wrote:
Trev wrote:
In any case, this doesn't mean one less 3DO review from me; it just means it'll be a review of a different game.
Snow Job, right? I'm playing it this weekend so it's fresh in my mind.
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