ROBOTICA: Cybernation Revolt

ROBOTICA: Cybernation Revolt
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Game Name: Robotica: Cybernation Revolt
Media: 1 CD-ROM
Publisher(s): SEGA
Developer(s): Micronet
Genre(s): First Person Shooter
Release Date: 1995
Serial Number: MK81008-50
Region: PAL

Robotica Title Screen ScreenshotRobotica appeared pretty ealy on in the Saturn’s life cycle, and plunges you into a bleak dystopian future where a computer virus has infected every robot on earth, causing them to attack the human population and attempt to take over the planet.
Ok, so the premise sounds cool enough (by 1995 standards) This was one title I never owned back in the day, and despite the slating many Saturn fans gave it I approached Robotica with a very open mind.

The initial thing that strikes you about Robotica is the graphics, despite still being largely sprite based both the robots and your weaponry are exceptionally well drawn. Sadly this is quickly let down a little by poor texture resolution on the 3D geometry, but given this was an early title you can forgive developers for not having pushed the Saturn’s texture handling capabilities.

Robotica Gameplay Screenshot

The next thing to strike you, full on in the face like a brick, is the absolutely ludicrous draw distance, and fog of war type abyss around 8 feet in front of your character which fades totally to black, even in wide open well lit spaces.

This doesn’t seem so bad when running through corridors, in fact the crazed robots suddenly approaching out of the black mist guns blazing, adds quite nicely to the eerie feel of the game (yes ok it initially scared the piss out of me).

 

However, when you enter the first open space with an enemy inside you will discover how mind bogglingly stupid this draw distance/fog issue is.

The rooms in Robotica are for the most part immense with many exits, now imagine if you will entering this room and being shot from three different directions, by enemies that you cant see because of the shitty draw distance.
So there you are wandering around trying to find them all in this fog of black smoke, whilst all the while they’re cheerfully firing at you and relocating.

Robotica Gameplay ScreenshotInitially I didn’t think this would be a problem as you have a nice radar readout to tell you where the not so big bad robots are, but unbelievably enough the radar tends to update their location slowly, or occasionally not at all.

So looking at the screenshots and thinking about the cool cyberpunk-esque setting your probably considering that I’m being a little hard on poor Robotica, the draw distance was probably a compromise to maintain framerate during all the action’ right? WRONG!

For a start, there is no action. Every level pretty much involves you finding a key and getting to the next level where you have to find a key to get to… well you get the idea.
Adding insult to disappointment, the few enemies you encounter during what is effectively dungeon crawling, look so far from menacing or intimidating it’s very hard to imagine them as a serious threat.
Evil robots trying to take over and enslave the human race is almost always a winning storyline, but flying sandwich toasters and something that looks suspiciously like a hoover my grandmother had in the 70’s are very unlikely to strike fear into the hearts of Saturn Gamers.

Robotica Gameplay ScreenshotEven in a game as straight forward as this with so many little graphical compromises, you can still find jerkiness and obvious drops in framerate, and usually when there is no ‘action’ on screen whatsoever.

Credit where it is due, Robotica has an excellent control system, reasonably fluid movements, a great array of weapons and devices, and the graphics are for the most part excellent for the period.
Sadly it’s totally let down by lacklustre level designs, laughable character design and weak game objectives.

Robotica is akin to an Easter egg hunt in a slightly neglected garden, but in this case all you ever find at the end is a key that lets you in to another Easter egg hunt.
Don’t go into this game expecting any chocolate eggs.

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