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Alive 3
                                Iron Soldier 3
                                  by Eclipse

Type: Mech Sim
# of players: 1-2
Levels: 25
MSRP: $29.95

Take on the PENTA forces

Worldwide industrialization has covered much of the earth's surface with large
cities and wastelands. Global corporations, such  as PENTA, are using military
force to  take  over democratic  governments  in order  to  create a worldwide
military dictatorship.

As small conflicts became increasingly common, a need arises for a new type  of
weapon - a 42 foot tall piloted robot, known as the Iron Soldier. This powerful
and flexible weapon system is used by the defense forces of the United Republic
one of the last independent states.

The Iron Soldier can carry a wide variety of weapons, negotiate rough, urban
terrain, and engage in close combat within the confines  of dense industrial

As part of the United  Republic's elite defense  force, your job is to pilot an
IS and use it to stop PENTA Industries' terrorist activities and protect the UR
from military harm.


   * Fully rendered 3D worlds
   * Three robot types
   * 15 mountable weapons
   * Jetpack for high speed action
   * Two player duel mode and cooperative mode
   * Surround Sound SFX
   * Fully destructable environment
   * 25 single player missions & arcade modes
   * Enhanced destruction effects for buildings and enemies amid rolling

Hopefully, if you're reading this, you have at least heard  of the Iron Soldier
series of games before. Getting it's  start on the Atari Jaguar, the series has
since moved to the Sony  Playstation and now NUON for the  third installment of
this 42-foot tall, building-destroying, helicopter-shooting type of game. Let's
get down to the  goods on  this game, and  see what it  has in store  for those
lucky enough to snap this up for their NUON-enhanced DVD players.

From power-on, you will notice that  this game  is polished up  to the max. The
formerly static opening  NUON logo has been  replaced with a rendered animation
(seen on the NUON demo disk)  with an accompanying sound effect. Next you'll be
greeted by a few  lengthy, crisp, and decidedly  well-done  full  motion  video
sequences. As  in  FreeFall, the FMV  is running  at DVD  resolution  and shows
little to no artifacting at all. The  opening menu, credits, high  scores, etc.
all run on top of  FMV  backdrops for a very  impressive visual  effect. Static
screens in the  opening  menus  are all  rendered in  high-resolution  and look
great, which is a great change of pace from the lackluster menu screens seen in
other NUON games (Ballistic anyone?).

But the quality  doesn't end at the menus, that's for sure. While NUON may not
be renowned for its  polygon-pushing power, Iron Soldier 3 really gets down to
the metal and shows what can  be done when a  developer is willing  to put the
time and effort into  making their game look great. If you have played or even
seen the  PSX version of  this game, you will notice  right away  that all the
textures and  graphics are much  cleaner and  don't have the  blocky-ness that
plagues not only IS3, but most of the Playstation game library. Transparencies
are much more believable, and the lighting effects are outstanding - just wait
štill you're standing at the corner of a skyscraper and an enemy shot makes it
burst into flames.

There are a  few noticeable  flaws in the graphics, however - there  is  some
jagginess to the edges of buildings, helicopter  blades and such, most likely
due  to the resolution being  under 640x480. Also, the snow and -desert haze-
effects look  great, but the rain is  far from convincing, looking  more like
jagged  little  pixels  than actual  rain. However, the  weather  effects are
definitely a welcome feature, since they make the environments more realistic
and the world more believable.

As in the PSX version, the land now features height - hills and valleys to make
navigating the different areas of  the game more challenging. Now you're forced
to mentally map out a  route before taking  action, unless  you want to be left
staring off a cliff wondering  how you are going to get  down to it. Again, the
rolling landscape makes the world of Iron Soldier  more lifelike, and even more
fun, as you can hurl grenades  over a hill and nail an unsuspecting tank on the
other side.

The music and sound effects of Iron Soldier 3 really shine. As Eclipse is known
to do, they've once again included a great Surround  Sound option, which allows
you  to hear  helicopters, tanks and  planes  coming  up from  behind  you, and
creates an  overall ambiance  that  just cannot be  beat. All of the  audio  is
super-crisp and clear, and fits the game well. Numerous (and long) audio tracks
mean you won't get bored listening to the same looping music over and over.

As far  as  gameplay is  concerned,  you've got  a few  options  for  your city
destroying pleasure. There's the standard Mission mode, where you make your way
through the  25  missions by  completing a  variety  of tasks. From  collecting
supply  crates, to  defending  cities from  incoming forces, and  even  to  the
dreaded -protect the truck convoy- missions, there is enough  difference in the
levels to keep you from feeling like you're doing the same thing over and over.

Then you've got Arcade mode, in which  your goal is to  destroy the entire city
as quickly as possible. This can be played either solo, or  against a friend to
see  who  is  the  ultimate in  destruction. Also  available  is a  two  player
cooperative mode, which puts you and a friend in the same mech, one controlling
the legs and  the  other  controlling  the  torso, to  tackle the  mission mode
together. While a bit disorienting  at first, if you can get  a partner that is
at least somewhat competent this mode can prove to be pretty enjoyable. Mission
mode is still the most enjoyable part of  the game, but the  other set of modes
are also a welcome addition to diversify the gaming experience a bit.

One glaring omission in  IS3 is the  lack of  memory card  support. Once again,
NUON gamers  are  forced  to keep  a list  of passwords  to keep track of their
progress  in  the  game, rather   than  having  the  ease of  saving  the  game
completely. Thankfully the passwords are kept short (six characters  per code),
but they don't save stats  and records, which played  an important part  in the
replayability of  the Playstation  revision of  this game. Gameplay  and system
settings can be saved with a similar 6-character code, so upon returning to the
game you're able to restore all your settings by entering  the password. Close,
but just not the same as having full  memory card  support. Hopefully this game
will be the last on NUON that uses passwords.

The controls of the  game take a bit of getting  used to, especially if you are
familiar with the previous two Iron Soldier  games. Now, switching  controls is
accomplished by  cycling through  your arsenal  using the B button  rather than
hitting a single key on the keypad. The dual-analog  control of the Playstation
version is missed as well - forward and reverse controls are no longer achieved
by using  the second  analog stick, but  rather by  holding  the C Down key and
pushing up or down  on the D-pad. Again, the  HPI Stealth  controller is  not a
good choice if you  want to  use the analog stick, since the Z  trigger doesn't
map to the L button. Grab yourself a Logitech gamepad or wait for the Pro-Elite
if you're looking for analog  control on  this one, otherwise  the D-pad on the
Stealth is still preferred over the -clicky- Warrior controller.

But don't let the game's few  shortcomings get you down, Iron Soldier 3 on NUON
shines and is a blast to play. If blowing  up buildings and stomping tanks in a
huge robot sounds like fun, then you won't be disappointed with IS3. With great
graphics, crisp, clear audio, and a completely polished presentation, you won't
believe this game is running on your DVD player.

Great FMV, crisp textures and overall polish make this game look great.
Slight jagginess keeps it down from a 10, though.

Good techno tracks and high-quality sound effects, all presented in full
surround sound.

A complex scheme, but it eventually becomes second nature - except for
cycling through your weapons.

Fun Factor-8.5
It doesn't get much better than complete destruction, and IS3 serves it up
with style.

Overall (not an average)-90%

Alive 3