Giants: Citizen Kabuto v1.4, by MacPlay
Posted: 16-Jan-2002

3 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: MacPlay Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Robert Hanno Class: GAMES


Description
MacPlay's Giants: Citizen Kabuto is a first- to third-person shooter/role-playing game situated on twenty-five islands where the player can choose from one of three species: Meccaryns - five Aussie-accented outsiders on an "annual lads' holiday", Sea Reapers - a race of females and the original island denizens, or Kabuto - a self-replicating Frankenstein monster of the Sea Reapers' creation. Single- and multi-player gaming is available.


Price: $19.99


Requirements:

  • Power Macintosh
  • 128MB RAM
  • 1.1GB free disk space
  • MacOS X 10.0.4 or higher
  • 3D Video Card w/ 16 MB or higher
  • Adobe Acrobat for reading the 84-page manual

Review Environment:

  • B&W G3, 350mHz, 896 MB of memory
  • Mac OS 10.1.4
  • ATI Rage 128 2D/3D graphics card
  • Logitech Trackman Marble Wheel


Game Play
Giants: Citizen Kabuto is a Macintosh OS X game situated on a distant planet where three Aussie-accented vacationing spacemen encounter a number of exotic species. Your initial role is as one of these Meccaryns who, having fallen relatively weaponless from the mother ship, must fight the nasty natives to rescue the beneficial Smarties and your mates as you complete levels and then missions to acquire improved weaponry and locomotion.

Giants comes on 2 CDs and had an install process less user-friendly than most. The install directory logs in at 1.1 GB. The review version required the download of a 4 MB patch for multiplayer support, other enhancements and bug fixes.

The manual is an 84-page PDF with the history behind the game, an introduction to the cast of characters (which in addition to those mentioned above, includes Smarties, Rippers, Piranha, Vimps, Reaper Guards, Sonak, Charger, Raiks, Cleaners, Verms, Dactyls, Lobird and Flaks), the various structures found on the islands, game interface notes, and weaponry and spell usage.

A mouse click changes the game's default third-person perspective to that of the first-person. Their is also an option allowing you to view yourself head-on as you devour your enemies or as you are being hacked to pieces. Kabuto also posseses a foot and mouth cam.

Each mission begins with a short "movie" setting the stage by introducing new characters and/or weapons and providing the goal. These movies can be skipped by pressing Escape during subsequent attempts. Once the mission begins, a key press presents a zoomable map view pinpointing your current location and the location of the goal. During these map viewings, the game continues.

Locomotion takes many forms. Having crashed their spaceship the Meccs begin with their own feet but quickly possess a re-chargeable jetpack which is improved as the missions progress. They are unable to enter deep water due to the presence of piranha which quickly finish them off. The Reapers can swim, "turbo" to a targeted point and may also acquire a Reaper Ski for land as well as water travel. Kabuto travels by foot either walking, running or leaping.

The Meccs come armed with a hand gun (with unlimited ammunition) and are able to acquire rechargeable jetpacks, rocket-propelled grenade launcher, grenades, machine guns, and flares. Sea Reapers are armed with a sword, various bows and magic spells. Kabuto mostly uses his powerful body but he can also use anything he can pick up.

The game interface consists of the third- or first-person (or head-on) view, an energy indicator, a health indicator and the current arsenal of weapons, spells, Smarties or food. In some levels, additional health, available weapons and ammunition may be found in gift shops. Pointing a weapon at an enemy, enemy structure or a teammate displays a health indicator for that target.

Graphics and sounds and are quite good even on a machine meeting only the minimum requirements. The islands are covered with grassy plains, sandy beaches and dunes with angular cliffs. Palm trees sway realistically in the breeze, waves gracefully traverse the sea's surface. Bird noises and flight add to the ambience. Structures litter the landscape. Music is relatively subdued with ocassional crescendoes and fanfairs often coincident with enemy engagements. Smoke issues from the Meccs as the health deteriorates. The Rippers claw-gnashing after finishing off one of the Meccs, the piranha's splashing as they devour one of the Meccs, and Kabuto's roar all add to the game.

Setting Disciple Mode once you have teamed up with your partner(s) allows for coordinated attacks although your teammates sometimes fare pretty well on their own and can even out-survive their "leader".

Multi-player gaming which allowed many permutations of the Meccs vs. Reapers vs. Kabuto was not reviewed due to a lack of gaming partners.

Now shoot-'em-ups are not my particular forte --- most assuredly due to a dearth of keyboard skills. Shooting I can handle. Shooting and attacking/avoiding is another story. The (accidental: ten thumbs!) re-discovery of zoom view enhanced my success as many engagements were much more successful at a distance than they were where figuring out how to move sideways, maintain focus on a target, and fire. It wasn't until my teenage son successfully completed a couple of levels with me taking notes, that I managed to make any progress.

For me (and even my shoot-em-up son) this game provided considerable difficulties and I never progressed much past the lower levels. I did thoroughly enjoy an early level in which I spent an inordinate amount of time and eventually prevailed.

With the minimum configuration, we usually set the video niceties (Model Detail, Enhanced Wave Effects, Shadow Detail, etc.) at their minimal levels or turned off. This allowed passable gameplay on the G3 but when attempting multi-player gaming, I reset these to the higher quality and even on the slow processor, it was evident that this is a beatifully rendered game and would be impressive on a more powerful machine with a more current video card.

Movements largely followed the laws of physics --- travel uphill was slowed and a Mecc could not walk through a building. The interplay between beings would ocassionally fail. A creature in Kabuto's clutches would appear within Kabuto even before its consumption.

The banter from your Mecc teammates keeps up the spirits during battle sequences. The sub-surface noises and shower of soil and stone from the tunneling of Rippers presaged their appearance and was a nice touch. I did hear "Aaooow, me legs!" a few too many times while being defeated by one or another of the islands' creatures. Perhaps a random sequence of appendages could be added here.

The game play changes a bit with subsequent passes through a mission. Creatures attack from different angles and in different numbers although some followed the same paths time after time.

The manual was a bit long-winded. The default listing of the three keyboard options lists and a let's-get-right-to-the-shooting synopsis would be a welcome addition.

Saving games within a mission is not an option. Completed missions were not always saved.

During a particular frenetic moment battling Rippers, the sound degenerated into a pattern of scritches with the video locked for 10 seconds at a time. The scritches also occurred on another occasion and both problems could only be rectified by completely exiting the game. I would note that this occurred on only two ocassions in thirty to forty hours of game play AND on a slow processor.

Mouse sensitivity was poor and tweaking the game's mouse preferences did not seem to help. The game's cursor used in menu selections was quite unwieldy. Excessive rolling of the mouse ball was necessary mostly in the game's menus but also in game play. The mouse's ball needed four and one-half revolutions to traverse a full-screen menu.

The humor level is aimed at twelve-year-olds and contains crude and suggestive remarks. The Smarties are annoying at best. Timmy's mother is forever known as "The Wife". A running drama is the romance between "The Wife" and one of the Meccs.

Pre-mission "movies" are relatively banal and could be set to optional after their initial run. The purpose of these is to set up the next mission but the annoying presence of the Smarties renders most of these as nuisances. As it is, pressing the Escape key skips these and the mission synopsis is diplayed as text.

Option menus are littered with settings which are billed as "Unavailable" (e.g., Enhanced Wave Effects, Object Bumpmapping, Landscape Bumpmapping and Environment Mapping in Graphics.) It is not evident whether these are available on other platforms or with a more powerful video card. This did not detract from my game activities.


Summary
This game is quite entertaining on an older G3 and even at lower-quality settings. There is considerable opportunity for missions and levels with a plethora of multi-player options. The graphics and sounds are stunning on this machine. The bugs are relatively minor and occur infrequently. I would recommend MacPlay's Giants: Citizen Kabuto to gamers with a G4 processor and a penchant for gunplay.

Pros

  • Inexpensive ($19.99 or less)
  • Imaginative storyline
  • Many levels
  • Well-rendered visuals

Cons

  • Requires CD to start
  • Poor mouse sensitivity gives edge to the computer
  • Save game command not available (Games saved only at mission completion)
  • Annoying start-up pages through credits for MacPlay, Omni Group, Mumbo Jumbo, Digital Mayhem and Planet Moon Studio
  • Sound anomalies and temporary freeze-ups occur during intense sequences.


Overall Rating:

3 out of 5 Mice