Atari Jaguar – Hoverstrike – Review

Hoverstrike adds a new twist to computer gaming. This time you have to save the human race by taking on the Terrakian pirates in an armoured hovercraft!

Hoverstrike puts you in the seat of a state of the art military hovercraft. Only you can defeat the Terrakian pirates with your firepower and cunning. Your task is to launch a pre-emptive strike in front of the main Federation armada, knocking out as much of the enemy as possible.

Hoverstrike follows the standard formula of having to complete various missions. Each one is based on certain terrain types such as water, ice or dessert. After the short mission brief, a quick animated scene shows your craft being dropped by a mothership. At this point the mayhem begins. This game is fast and furious. As soon as your hovercraft touches down, tanks, aircraft and other assorted  nasties start to attack.

It takes a little while to get the hang of the controls. Your hovercraft behaves just like a real one. If you’re flying forward and then turn, you don’t suddenly change direction, instead you start to slide sideways, gently changing direction as you do so. You can either fly this way or use the brakes to fly in a go-stop-turn-go kind of way.

Your main weapon is your photon blaster. Depending on the mission and what items you come across during the game, you can also have different missiles, mortars and flares. Your craft has a targeting system that can lock on to the nearest enemy allowing you to fire off guided missiles without having to worry too much about your accuracy.

Your hovercraft is equiped with a radar which shows primary targets, enemies and bonus items in different colours. This helps enormously. Your cockpit also shows fuel and shields.

Once each set of missions is completed, you move onto the next level and a new set of missions. The first ones are quite straightforward but even on level 2 you have some quite tricky fighting to do and it only gets harder.

You can just play this game like a standard shoot-em-up but you won’t get far. Once past the early levels, you have to start using your head as well as your trigger finger. Some missions are virtually impossible unless you make strategic use of the terrain, dodging around hills and hiding in valleys, ready to ambush your target.

The graphics are a mixed bag. On the plus side, everything is fully texture mapped. Some of the enemy vehicles and targets are beautifully rendered and look very convincing. The night time missions use shading to great effect creating an eerie sensation as you fly along in almost total darkness. On the downside, the frame rate, whilst very fast, is also very choppy. As you manoeuvre your hovercraft, it is all too easy to become disorientated as the walls and sky jerk about in a rapid succession of totally different views.

The sound is adequate. The in-game effects are basic and the music is good enough but overall, Hoverstrke is rather weak in this department.

There is only one game save and this has to be made when each mission has been finished. When you start the game, you have a choice of a new game or returning to the save.

Hoverstrike has some nice touches. The texture mapping is good and the pace is energetic, a bit like Cybermorph on speed. Unfortunately, the poor sound and sometimes choppy animation detract from what could have been a much better game. Try before you buy.

Product Name:    Hoverstrike
Publisher:            Atari
Telephone:          01753 xxxxxx
RRP:                  £49.99

Pros:        Excellent rendered graphics. Fast and fun.
Cons:          Average sound and a little repetitive after the first few missions.
Score         6