SCARAB attempts to mix the first-person shooter action of Powerslave with the play of Mechwarrior 2, and even adds a touch of resource management. You command three styles of mechs, modeled after the Egyptian gods Anubis, Sekhmet, and Horus, each with their different strengths and weaknesses. To win against Osirisâ€™ collection of robots, you can either nuke them three times in a row, or you can strategically position Towers of Ra. If you correctly place enough of these towers, a clock begins to count down, and if youâ€™re still alive by the time it reaches zero, you win the mission.
As you play from a first-person, Doom-style perspective, youâ€™re assisted by a ship that flies overhead and drops goodies onto the battlefield at your request. Smoke bombs, mortars, x-ray vision, and plenty of other weapons are available — but be sure to snatch them up before your opponent does, since equipment add-ons are usable by both warring factions. Floating ankhs also populate the wargrounds. These can grant you healing, or can set off a stupendous explosion if hit with weapon fire.
The control is a mixed bag; youâ€™re better off with a keyboard and mouse than the recommended joystick control. One detestable blunder involves the pinpoint firing scheme — when you aim high on the screen, thereâ€™s a jerky, disorienting shift as the view realigns itself a few inches up. Another minor annoyance is the inability to pinpoint fire when moving — youâ€™re only able to fire straight forward when on the run.
As a singleplayer game, SCARAB is lifeless. The challenge of competing against a single faceless computer opponent isnâ€™t very fulfilling — especially since we all started playing multi-player Doom a few years ago. Many of the simple one-on-one, slow-paced deathmatches can go for minutes without visual contact between the two players, and makes SCARAB feel like a waiting game. Multiplayer has more potential, but it’s still nowhere near as entertaining as more established classics like Doom or Mechwarrior 2 – both of which do their own thing with much more grace.
System Requirements: Pentium 90 MHz, 16 MB RAM, Win95
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