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ESWAT Review Rewind


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On 03/29/2022 at 05:00 PM by Jamie Alston

Enforce the Law
RECOMMENDATION:

The nostalgic Genesis fan will enjoy this from time to time, especially if you can get in a compilation of Genesis games.

Being in the arcade business well before 16-bit consoles came along, Sega always had a discerning eye for what would catch an avid gamer’s attention. Their games covered nearly every genre out there at the time. If you wanted to be a high-flying jet pilot, Afterburner was your game. If you always wanted to ride like the wind with your partner at your side, OutRun owned your quarters. And in 1989, if you wanted to be a law enforcer with a lot of firepower and plenty of criminals to test it on, ESWAT: Cyber Police had your fix. While the Genesis version wasn’t a 1:1 port- sporting a slightly modified premise and fewer levels- the game was a worthy effort with a few quirks that kept it from being an A-lister.

You step into the boots of a police officer assigned to take down the terrorist organization “E.Y.E.” You start the game armed with only a standard pistol, picking street thugs. After a couple of stages, you work your way up to the rank of ESWAT (Enhanced Special Weapons And Tactics) - where things get interesting. The majority of the game is played in the Ice Combat Suit. It comes complete with a jetpack booster to allow you to combat enemies in mid-air and avoid hazards. You’ll also gain access to the rocket launcher, pulse cannon, and the rapid-firing super shot. Your ultimate weapon is the flame option which incinerates any enemies within range of the 360-degree attack.

Selecting your weapons is akin to the Thunder Force series in that each weapon has its own box that displays the item currently selected. Unfortunately, if you die while using that weapon, it will not be immediately available to you upon restarting the area again. That proves to be a major bummer in later sections of the game. And if you happen to be fighting a boss when you got killed, you can forget about going back to pick up items again.

The difficulty is rather intense on the easiest setting. Midway through the game, enemies swarm you, draining your life bar quicker than you can react. You can expect to be bombarded throughout the entire game after the second stage. The jetpack drains burner energy, and it’s a pain to wait for it to recharge while enemies besiege you.

I’m sure the game designer wanted to add a strategic element to maneuvering around, but it’s annoying to sit there for 15 seconds while your jetpack catches its breath. It is particularly troublesome during boss fights that require you to use burner energy. Between losing your weapons upon death and juggling jetpack usage, you get reduced to playing Russian roulette in a desperate attempt to stay alive and wear down the other guy’s energy.

The controls in the game are relatively responsive. However, difficulties may arise when under heavy fire since it can be hard to time your movements between attack patterns. Like many games of this kind, sustaining damage also means getting knocked around an inch or two. It’s not too big of a problem with falling off platforms since bottomless pits are kept to a bare minimum. However, frustration quickly sets in should you get caught between multiple baddies. I’d get stuck in the crossfire until my health was gone, and it seemed like I never had enough time to get to a comfortable distance before seeing my guy keel over. Your health bar drains quicker after gaining the suit than without it in an odd twist.

Be that as it may, your jetpack can be a most helpful source of escape with its ability to help you maneuver out of trouble very quickly. The downside is that the controls suddenly get very sensitive when moving in mid-air. And the burner energy won’t carry you very far unless you obtain a special icon to rapidly restore your fuel. So take care when trying to get around in tight quarters; it’s easy to waste your burners by clipping a wall or corner ceiling pixel.

Graphically, ESWAT doesn’t disappoint. The backgrounds are well detailed, with high-rises in the city, a darkening skyline surrounding the nuclear power plant, and other noticeable effects as you make your way through each level. Most of the areas are enjoyable to play through and well-designed. My favorite is the prison stage, where you have to jump into the background jail cells to make it to the exit.

The main character is well-drawn, as well as all of the other enemies and objects too. The sprites are big and well animated. The bosses, though, are the real stars of the show. Most of the concepts were reasonably original and fun to look at. You’ll face off against an amphibious helicopter, a colossal wall-crawling spider tank, twin cyborgs, and other interesting enemies. I just wish there were more levels to explore.

The audio presentation is respectable. The music is upbeat in the beginning but takes on a darker tone as you make your way to the final stage. I enjoyed the music for the prison stage with its pronounced bass and relaxed style. The boss music in every major battle also caught my attention because it gives an urgency.

The sound effects are mostly on par with the rest of the audio presentation. Oddly enough, explanations are heavily present, except after those tough boss fights. It’s strange to engage in a challenging battle only to hear an underwhelming “piff” sound after defeating them. Meanwhile, you got weaker small-time criminals hardily exploding left and right.

In the end, ESWAT is a reasonably enjoyable game if you can forgive the demanding difficulty. Annoyances such as the time it takes to replenish your burner fuel and your health draining quicker after obtaining a supposedly superior upgrade make no sense. Those faults aside, ESWAT is a decent old-school action/platformer that can satisfy the needs of anyone looking for a short trip down memory lane.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:


All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.


These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.


This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.


Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.


Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.


A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.


 

Comments

KnightDriver

03/29/2022 at 09:36 PM

I'm pretty sure I played this on Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection once. Hard like Contra. I didn't get very far in it. 

Jamie Alston Staff Writer

04/06/2022 at 06:45 PM

For a while, I couldn't get past the second boss (twin cyborgs). Then one day I kinda figured things out and got past it. Never beat the game, but I did get like 4 or 5 levels in. I currently have EWSAT on the Genesis Classics collection on PS4 and Switch, but I can't make it pst that 2nd boss again. Ugh!

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