I don't usually start a review with those words, but honestly, it's hard to think of appropriate sentences when describing the game I'm about to review. This is 'Cyber-virus', a genuine Atari Lynx first person shooter.
And does it play! Does it play! But I'm getting ahead of myself.
'Cyber-virus' is not one of the official Atari Lynx games, but one of the many late homebrew titles that have been released thus far for the system. It's a Songbird Productions title, like 'Championship Rally' (amongst others). But perhaps more than any of Songbird Production's titles, this particular game has captured the imagination of many. That's because it answered a very important question; can the Atari Lynx handle a fully-fledged FPS? Well, let me tell you: 'Battlewheels' hinted that it was possible… 'Cyber-virus' makes it a reality.
I won't bore you with the details, but the storyline puts you (a heroic soldier) against a robotic menace - the "Cybots". You are to strike out in a one dude mission to eliminate the Cybot scourge across sixteen varied, occupied territories. All action takes place behind your see-through helmet visor. If you've played 'Metroid Prime' on the Nintendo Game Cube or Wii, that's the kind of perspective you will be viewing the game from; just miniaturized for the Atari Lynx. And I must say, the perspective works extremely well.
Graphics. Where do you start? This is a nice looking game. The introductory graphics look absolutely terrific. There's the pulsating title logo… the fantastic cartoon story images… visually strong "mission briefing" screens… and of course, the main action is just a sheer visual dream for FPS fans. Fans of 'Battlewheels' will likely see some strong resemblance to the graphics of that game. But thankfully, it feels like 'Cyber-virus' added the all-important element of variety to backgrounds; something missing from 'Battlewheels'. The rugged terrain you cover not only looks dangerous… it looks fantastic!
Across your vision you'll come across a lot in a short space of time. Robotic humanoids will appear rapidly and blast at you, but in the more jungle settings, expect vicious spiders! Building structures and towers stand in the landscape, and many can be blown up; and some may need to be in order to complete a mission objective. There are collectibles for the sharp-eyed commando, if you can avoid the onslaught of enemies long enough. Thankfully, your "wrist watch map" will be an essential tool to find your way around these environments.
A good FPS needs effective music and sound, and the great news is that you'll get the explosions, blasts and ricochets that you'd expect from this genre of game. The enemy weapons are particularly nice, and there are even aural splashes of lightning in some skylines… nice touch! Sadly, there is no in-game music; but this is almost unnoticeable once you are thrown into the action! Whilst I would have liked some themes to listen to, the title and introductory themes are a nice accompaniment to the missions. So it's certainly not a disappointment.
What about the all-essential element of gameplay? Is 'Cyber-virus' really as good as it looks? The answer is YES… the graphics really do match the gameplay. One of the best things is you can start any of the four-part missions at any time (there are sixteen overall). And it's not a single weapon game; as well as your Plasma Rifle, there is a Rocket Launcher and Grenades to throw. Heavier weapons really do have a bigger damage quotient, but you'll want to conserve these for bigger battles! Controls are smooth and easy to master, and your screen has an armor meter, radar alert, ammo count and choice of weapon indicator. It's all within your grasp!
Are there any downsides to 'Cyber-virus'? Truthfully, there aren't many. I would have loved some missions that were based indoors, a la 'Xybots' on Lynx. Some more weapons perhaps. And as stated earlier, backing tracks would have really enhanced this game even further. But apart from that, there aren't too many Lynx games that have had me as excited as this one. It's the kind of title that actually helps to affirm in your own mind that the Lynx was really as powerful a machine as what the originators said it was. And the question begs, what other kinds of games could the Lynx possibly port, now that this game is out there?
It's pretty much automatic to recommend the exciting aftermarket title 'Cybervirus'. The only other Lynx games that have excited me as much as this one were 'Zaku' and 'Lemmings': two of the absolute "top tier" Lynx games ever made (in my view) and which share the quality and ingenuity as this game. For FPS players, 'Cyber-virus' is an absolute essential. For everyone else, it's a sci-fi blast with a lot of strategy involved. And if you find it too easy, then tackle one of the tougher missions: it's brutal! In fact, I might go and try this game again right now. I know I'm not the only one!
'Cyber-virus' is highly recommended. Grab it!Score Card
This review was submitted by Jon Mc from JMac Productions