UNDER DEFEAT | Players: 1-2 | Release: 2006 | Developer: G-REV

 

Shouldn't that be 2006? Oh well.

When Radirgy was announced last December, everybody was happy; a new Dreamcast game was finally
announced after the long wait since Trizeal. A few weeks later an even bigger wave of joy flooded over the
Dreamcast scene when G-REV announced a Dreamcast port of their Naomi game: Under Defeat. The
question arose; Radirgy, Under Defeat or both? It's a hard question to answer because both games are
entirely different, but whereas I deemed Radirgy unworthy of a $60 purchase, I can easily advise Under
Defeat to everyone who loves action packed games. Why? Because Under Defeat is better than Radirgy
in almost every aspect, that's why.

It may be a cliché but 'from the moment you turn on your machine, you know it's gonna be one hell of ride'.
Everything in this port was done with incredible care. Not just the ship graphics or some of the bosses.
Everything. Even the VMU port check screen, the options screen, the end of level stats screen; all look 
very nice indeed. The borders (if you haven't got the luxury of playing in TATE mode) can even be changed
to different sets of artwork!

First level and already there's plenty of things 'going on'
'They're gonna need a bigger boat' indeed

The in-game graphics are just simply amazing. It's been a while since I've seen anything looking this good
on the Dreamcast. The trails, smoke effects, explosions; all look incredible. The amount of detail on the
backgrounds is just as amazing. There's so much of it, you'll spot new things everytime you play. It's this
amount of detail that makes Under Defeat such an excellent game to play. The game tells its own story
while you're playing it. The enemies never just 'sit there, waiting to be shot to death' but move all over the
place. Tanks roll over bridges, heli's swarm all over the place, all while turrets fill the screen with even more
firepower.

The bosses are equally impressive, with loads of different turrets, rotating elements, multiple hit areas and
superb particle effects. They're also very different from each other and each one requires a special tactic to
beat. If you're just in for the 'quick kill', that's just possible but you'll -naturally- take a lot more risks. After
battling each one for a couple of times, you'll get the idea 'this is how it's supposed to be done' and will
save precious lives. In my case it were the actual stages and sub-bosses that made me lose the most
lives, strangely.

Is there anything negative I could say about the graphics? Not really. The firepower that is coming your way
can be a little hard to spot at times, because of the background explosions, but then again, what other colour
could they have used? It fits best with realistic theme anyway. 

There's no way to take crap screenshots in this game

I've mostly talked about the graphics so far, but what about the actual gameplay? Fine, sir.
The game is very 'pick up and play' friendly because it's just pure mindless action. No intricate fire
patterns (well, just a few maybe), no 'sneaking through very small corridors', no color switching and
sword dodging; just blast away and kill everything in sight. And that's how I like them best, to be honest. 

There are three main weapons; the rocket, the vulcan and the cannon. Each one has its pros and cons.
Certain weapons can be very weak (or strong) against certain bosses, so it's a good idea to experiment
with them. Naturally, there also some smartbombs in your equipment. The damage dealt by them is good
versus smaller enemies, but they are best used when the battle is becoming a little too heated for your liking.
Finally, by 'hold'-ing your fire long enough, your 'option' bar (see the red bar in the screenshot below) will fill
itself. When it's full, a small extra drone ship will enter play and will help you with some well-aimed shots. 

The game's difficulty may be a small letdown for some people; the game can cruised through pretty easy and
it's only the last boss that should give most people some real trouble. Even a rookie like me shouldn't have too
much trouble completing the first two/three stages on one credit. It's only in level four things become a real
challenge, with loads of firepower flying over the screen at once. Because the game only has five levels (five
brilliant ones, but still) I'm not too sure about this 'being a good thing'.

That said, the game can be set as easy or hard as you like and you only start with three credits (which
gradually increase the more you play). The only 'real' way to beat the game is to complete it on normal or hard
difficulty, in which cases you'll unlock the '2-1' mode. This -sadly- isn't a whole new chapter of Under Defeat
goodness, but it does give the game a couple of changes to make everything a little different and worthy of
another play-through.

Tesla would be proud


As for the rest? Ooh plenty stuff worthy of praise. The soundtracks are maybe not what you'd expect from
a game like this, but they are good (especially the boss music really sets the mood). Nothing much negative
can be said about the SFX either, with some excellent explosions, machinegun/turret sounds (especially
some of the 1-4 boss effects are VERY cool) and radio talk. The only thing they maybe could have added
are some more ambient sound effects in certain scenes. There is some rain at the end of 1-2, but that only
lasts for a few seconds before the stage ends (come to think of it, some rain effects during 1-2 would've been
pretty damn cool).

'And the extra's? Anything to keep you busy after you finished the game?' Plenty! You see, this is what
makes the difference between a 'good' game and a 'mediocre' one. (not mentioning any names but you know
what games I'm talking about!). Apart from the 2-1 mode (see above), there are plenty of things you can unlock.
There's an excellent art gallery featuring loads of cool artwork. Not just some rubbish old tat but detailed design
sketches, high quality wallpapers (there's something lurking on the actual disc as well.. [hint!] ) and other stuff
well worth a look.

Another thing that just 'can't be beaten' is the practice mode. Seen in a lot of other 2D shooters, but do any of
them offer multiple camera positions!? When you start the practice mode, you'll have a big selection of options.
You can set the starting stage, starting area (practice bosses or particulary hard scenes), difficulty, player stock,
rank offset and even the weapon you start with!

After completing the stage you'll get the option of watching a replay of your run (see the movies for an idea).
You can switch the camera to various positions, rotate and even zoom in on the action! Even more camera
positions are unlockable and if you've done very well, why not save your replay! It's all these things (and a lot
more, even the vibration pack is very well supported) that make Under Defeat such a joy to play.

Any criticisms? Not many. The game features restart points which you'll return to after losing a credit. These
restart points can be a little off-putting sometimes. For instance, when you die (i.e. lose a credit) during the
boss battle of 1-2, you'll be kicked back to the start of the first phase of it, which basicly resets all the
damage you've done back to zero. This can be pretty damn annoying when the boss only had so much
health left and you lose even more lives on an area you've already completed before. 

When I compare this game to the other five 'big' releases I've reviewed so far (Puyo Puyo Fever, Baldr Force
EXE
, Chaos Field, Trizeal and Radirgy), I can say this release wins the cup for 'best release since Ikaruga'.
The excellent playability, awesome graphics and neat bunch of extras G-REV have added make this
something people like to call 'a classic'. Whatever the two 'reviewers' of Famitsu were thinking when they
awarded this game a SIX out of TEN is anyone's guess, but rest assured this is a must-have title for all
action freaks.

The 'tower of despair'? No it's actually one of the easier bosses.
'Incoooooooooming!' It's a good caption so why not use it again?



GRAPHICS

Incredibly detailed in every sense, great trail and smoke effects,
smooth animation and great backdrops. Very impressive indeed.

SOUND
The BGM is good enough, with some excellent boss tunes.  
The SFX are equally excellent. (there's that word again)

GAMEPLAY
The direct 'pick up and blast away gameplay' is a winner, but
is it too easy for true 2D warrior? The set restart points can 
be a little frustrating.

VALUE
Five levels is one level short, but the excellent ranking system,
'2-1 mode' and awesome practice mode do make up for it.

Graphics 9.5
Sound 8
Gameplay 9
Value 8.5
Overall 88

 




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