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Zero 5 - The Atari Times

Zero 5

Take Control of this 64-bit Space Shooter
by Chris Engineer

March 29, 2002
Zero 5 has to be considered one of the more controversial Jaguar games. Either you love it or you hate it, but either way it seems like everyone has a strong opinion about this game. Many people say it's too hard, and that an auto-fire ability should have been included. Another typical complaint is that Zero 5 suffers because the game is split up into three different modes of gameplay. In other words, because Caspian spent so much time working on three separate games, the overall quality of each game is less than it would be if they had just focused on one. But what does this reviewer think?

Graphics: 95%
In terms of pushing polygons, this is one of the most impressive games in the Jag library. Although certainly nothing amazing by today's standards, the game still holds up with a great framerate and sharp looking shaded ships with some texture mapping. The game has a lot of visual character, very distinct designs for the ships and enemies. The explosions are impressive, reminding me of Battlesphere with how many ships break apart piece by piece before they finally burst. The intros before each level and the menus all help add to the polished graphical presentation of Zero 5.

Sound & Music: 95%
The soundtrack is also among the best on the Jaguar. The style is, you guessed it, techno, and it fits the fast paced action of the game perfectly. A good selection of fast, driving songs feeds you as you blast your way through level after level. The sound effects and voice samples are also top notch in Zero 5. The announcer tells you to "Take Control!" at the beginning of each level and will yell out "YES!" when you make an important kill. The laser blasts and explosion sound effects are well done. In some levels the sounds even become essential in the gameplay. In the Hit Pak mode you'll have to listen closely to know when an enemy warps into firing range, and in Trench mode the sound your lasers make when they hit an unbreakable wall is an important signal that you need to get the heck out of the way.

Control: 87%
Not quite perfect, the control isn't as tight as it could be in some parts. On a whole you'll be able to have a very good sense of control after a while, but now and then your ship will still get out of hand. Of course this varies from one gameplay mode to another. Hit Pak mode shouldn't give you much trouble with the controls, Trench mode feels like it should be a little more responsive, and Bam-Bam will probably give you the most trouble because it gets difficult to point your ship in the right direction at times. The controls for each mode are pretty easy to get the hang of after a few games regardless of any small problems. There are some nice touches to make up for any troubles, like the ability to put the control on fast or slow in Hit Pack mode. You can also customize the controls in case you never did feel that the up button should dive.

Gameplay: 90%
There are 3 different play modes, Bam-Bam (3D on rails), Hit Pack (Missile Command 3D style shooting), and Trench (Star Wars style shooting). My favorite is Trench mode, and man is it FAST! Bam-Bam would come in a close second, with some intense shooting action. Hit Pack is good as well, but just not my favorite type of shooter. One thing I like about each mode of gameplay is that they all capture a very fast paced arcade feel. While the game is definitely hard, it's not too hard, especially in comparison to some of the Jaguar's other great games. Of the 15 levels any experienced gamer should be able to get at least 3/4 of the way through in a week or two of playing. After that... hmmm, maybe you should try and find those cheat codes...

If the gameplay had been tweaked a little bit I think it could have been perfect. At times you don't really have a good sense of depth in Bam-Bam mode and the game will make you lose instead of your lack of skill. The more you play though, the less and less this happens. This game is intense, pure adrenaline pumping action straight through. Personally I think an auto-fire button would have ruined it. Half of the fun is the desperation you have as you smash your thumb into the fire button over and over again while your shields are nearly gone and you're facing a boss.

Overall: 95%
Some people are going to strongly disagree with me on this one, but I think this is the Jaguar's best game. While the game certainly has it's flaws, I play and enjoy Zero 5 more consistently than any other game in my library (and it's a big library). I hate to think what would have happened if Telegames had not released Zero 5 after the Jag's demise. If only the game had been released while our cat was alive and kicking, I think it would have gone a long way with the magazines. As it is now the game won't entice any new gamers to buy a Jaguar (what will?), but we should all be very glad this gem of a lost game was released by Telegames. With three great modes of shooting action, I have a hard time understanding how any Jaguar owner doesn't love this game.

This game is nothing like the popular Atari ST version.
Your ship shoots from the middle of the screen outward. A rather unique arrangement.
Flying down the trench avoiding the catwalks. Where's Han Solo when you need him?
"Blasted, Biggs where are you?"
Zero 5
System: Jaguar
Publisher: Telegames
Genre: Shooter
Graphics Score: 95%
Sound & Music Score: 95%
Gameplay Score: 80%
Control Score: 87%

Final Score: 95%

Reader Comments for Zero 5

A big ZERO by LS650 on 2006-10-18 14:24:34
I completely disagree with this comment from the review: "Of the 15 levels any experienced gamer should be able to get at least 3/4 of the way through in a week or two of playing." No way! I'm an experienced gamer, and I find even the first levels are brutally, horrendously difficult. Did the programmers actually have any playtesters come in cold and check this game out? Beautiful graphics, nice presentation - but even skilled gamers get slaughtered right away, and never have a chance to make any progress.
Zero-5 by Chris Dillon on 2008-04-15 06:19:08
Just came across this, I was the owner of Caspian Software, it was many years ago now, the game is very stuff, but that's how we wanted it, we all came from an arcade background, and wanted to make a buttom bashing, heart pumping game. We did play through the whole game 3 times in our offices, but no more :) It was tough, and the guys often got finger cramp. Happy days!

Try playing the game using a projector in a dark room, that's how the game is meant to be played :)
Questions by Gregory D. George on 2008-04-15 08:21:09
So who made the decision to have the ship shoot outward from the middle of the screen? I think that's something that hurts the game. It's a unique perspective, but it's extremely hard to aim from that angle.

Also, why is the game so different from the Atari ST version?

I like the graphics and the 3D look, I just wish it wasn't so HARD! (Or maybe I just suck at it!)
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