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Daedalus 3D by Safoa.net
Price: $29.99 for Palm, $14.99 for Symbian Series 60

Review posted July 2005 by Alex Lifschitz

Daedalus 3D could be called the first major 3D FPS on the Zodiac. The gorgeous environments in this little game set a precedent for mobile graphics, but many people wondered if the gameplay matched up. This game is truly a mixed bag of tricks, with some elements that engage you, and some that push you out. Much like in the legend of the (nearly) same name, Daedalus flies close to the sun, but will its imperfections send it spiraling to the ground?

The gameplay is pretty straightforward. In D3D, there are no real open and expansive environments aside from large rooms cluttered with walls in the earlier levels, but they spring up more often later in the game. The feel of the game is actually scary, and whether or not the publishers intended for this to rub off the gamer is still a mystery to me. It is not scary in a psychological sense, but rather in the sense that you never know what is coming around the corner, or what's behind that next door. Occasionally, you may see a nearly undefeatable horde of enemies nearby, and you have to brace yourself for the onslaught before they approach you. Did I mention this game was hard? If not, this game is H-A-R-D. For a variety of reasons, this game will hand your ass to you, even on the lower difficulties, if you are not careful. This can be extremely frustrating at times, as there are no checkpoints whatsoever. Got to the last enemy, and he killed you with an ambush? Tough luck, bunky. Back to the start of the level. Every weapon also runs on the same ammo, and there is a very limited selection: Only the pistol, shotgun, bazooka, and SMG. The SMG eats away at your ammo, as does the bazooka (though it is unfathomably powerful), so if you end up using the SMG for a while, you suddenly find yourself out of ammo. Since there is no melee weapon, once you are out of ammo, you might as well restart. The AI is pretty basic, as they will just home in on you. However, this adds another level in frustration in that it is not so much a battle of wits as it is a battle of firepower. Some of the enemies are hideously overpowered, as well. Even on the easiest difficulty, some enemies can take away half your health in one attack. You need to be quick on your feet to survive the world of Daedalus.

The controls in Daedalus are truly two-faced. On one hand, the game has a nice, fast pace that gives it the depth of a good PC shooter. The strafing and general turning controls are quick and responsive. However, after you get past basic movement, things get ugly. Aiming is a real chore. The controls are extremely flinchy in the sense that a light tap on the analog control will move your reticle (crosshair) too far to either side. You can somewhat rectify this by tapping a side of the screen with the stylus EXTREMELY close to the reticle (or by minor strafing), but breaking out the stylus in the middle of a fast-paced shooter like this is mighty inconvenient, and many times strafing takes too much time to line up. Getting a good shot at your opponent is pretty difficult unless you have the distance and time to make it out. Lightly holding the analog controller will also slowly move you slowly, but this is quite difficult to do in the middle of pulse-pounding gunfights. And forget circle-strafing; while it is a good evasion tactic, landing a shot is next to impossible unless you become very good at it, as your shot will veer off to the side when strafing. This means that as you strafe and fire, if you fire while the reticle is right over your opponent for a split-second, your shot will veer off to either side of the enemy. This makes have to have an advance knowledge of your enemies' positions, and it can be quite annoying. However, the developers were very generous with hit detection, which slightly lightens the proverbial load. Aside from the intricacies, the controls are responsive and sharp, just not as fine-tuned as I would like.

The graphics are the true high point of this game. Every environment of every level is done in breathtaking 3D detail. This is easily the greatest graphical game to come to the Zodiac. Every wall, lighting effect, and object is completely rendered in 3D. However, a few elements may take you out of the game. The enemies are a flat, blocky amalgamation of pixels that don't have much detail at all, and take away from the otherwise beautiful graphics. You will encounter roughly four enemy types through the entire course of the game: Bear/Bigfoot/Demon thing, Valkyrie woman with a gun, half-man/half-tank hybrid, and giant spider. The latter two are greatly overpowered, and you should approach them with caution. Two in a room can mean certain doom in many situations. Also, you never, ever see your gun. Much like in Ghost Recon, you only see your reticle, and the gun selection is seen primarily via a small menu at the bottom of the screen. While not a necessity, not being able to see your gun onscreen makes the game a little impersonal, though it is a minor inconvenience. The ammo for every weapon is a bit confusing, though. Every shot looks as if it was a wad of web shot from Spider Man, aside from the bazooka. The lack of detail is disappointing for an otherwise beautiful game; However, the environments are so magnificent, I can't bear to rag on it anymore.
Also, in one of the earlier levels, the environments went all negative on me, giving it a funky, psychedelic atmosphere, and while it was most likely a glitch, it should be a cheat. It was fun!

Sound is… Well, basic. There are only so many sounds in this game. Your character, when jumping and grunting, sounds like the manliest man ever wrought, with a horrifically deep voice. The enemies are reduced to a bark from the demon thing, scream from the valkyrie, hiss from the spider, and other sound effects with little variation. There are about two effects per character, and the weapons have little variation in sound as well, aside from the rapidity and volume. There are also some simple item effects, but nothing remarkable. But one thing that turned me off was the complete lack of music whatsoever aside from the title screen. Nada. Just silence until the next gunfight. At least make it an option!

This game is truly a triumph of graphical power marred by only a few small problems and a steep difficulty level. The lack of real immersive gameplay by way of minor graphical oversights and sound variety may turn some people off, but the frantic pace and gorgeous environments will attract many others to it. While I would love to recommend this as a purchase, I really cannot. This game is a matter of personal taste. However, there is a two-level trial available that basically encompasses the feel of the game, so if you like the trial, go ahead and get it. It's great for showing off the Zodiac's graphical capabilities to friends. Plus, with extra maps, reticles, and bars available for download at the developer's site, this has a nice bit of replay value, if only for the tiny facial adjustment.

 

Screen Shots:

screen shot

screen shot

 

Palm, including Zodiac
Symbian Series 60

 

 

Playing Hints and Tips

- The game will save your health and ammo count, so if you're having a problem with a level where you start off near a stockpile of health and ammo, grab them, restart the level, and repeat. You should be full up in no time.
- Always try sniping. The enemies have a limited field of vision, so if you see one off in the distance, take a time to adjust your aim and fire away.
- Circle strafing is great for avoiding enemy fire if you're far enough away, but hitting them while circle strafing is difficult. Practice, and get a feel for the veering shots.

Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):

Graphics

While there are a few graphical problems, the beautiful 3D imagery really gives the game's title credit. I would give this a 10/5 if I could on the 3D alone, so a few minor problems are easy to ignore.

Sound

The sound is average. It's really nothing special, but it will suffice. Some music would have been nice, though.

Fun Meter

Fun and frantic on the lower difficulties, obsessively hard on anything above that. Do you like frantic shoot-'em-ups, or teeth-gnashing challenge? You decide. On pen and paper, it sounds annoying, but the experience is great.

Addictivity

No matter how many times you die (and you will), you'll just keep coming back for more. Keep your charger nearby, as the graphical power eats up the battery.

 


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