Enemy Zero

Year: 1996
Platform: Saturn
Developer: Warp
Genre: Adventure/Horror
Rating: *

After playing Warp's "D" and "D2", I figured I would complete the Laura Trilogy with "Enemy Zero." This time around, the main character is Laura Lewis, the co-pilot of a the spaceship Aki. She and the rest of the seven man crew are awakened from cryogenic sleep when the ship is breached by an invisible foe. As Laura investigates the ship, her shipmates are slowly picked off by the alien menace. Escape eventually becomes her only option. (how original, eh?)

First of all, the graphics are nice and the cut scenes are nicely rendered. There is also some appropriately creepy music scattered throughout, which heightens the sense of dread. The art direction is very interesting, and nicely conveys Warp's sense of the bizarre (for instance, the Aki is shaped like a human heart). There are two modes of gameplay: When you're in a room, you're in exploration mode. Navigation is point-to-point, and you have a set number of pre-rendered views that you can look at (which is identical to the way that "D" plays). When you leave a room and are wandering the corridors and open spaces of the Aki, you're in combat mode (similar to wandering the frozen expanses in "D2"). At this point it's a "Doom" styled first person shooter where you run around and waste any aliens that get in your way. And herein lies the game's primary flaw. It is WAY too hard and the gun is EXTREMELY frustrating. First of all, the aliens are invisible, which makes them really hard to shoot. You can locate them with a tracking device that plays audio tones to indicate their position and distance relative to you. Very tricky. And as if that isn't bad enough, you have to charge your gun every time you use it, with the strength of the charge relative to the distance you want to shoot. And the charge only lasts for a second or two before it dissipates and you have to charge the gun again. And you only have a limited number of charges before you have to go to a recharging station to replenish your battery power. Basically, if you don't get your enemies with your first shot, they'll kill you before you have a chance to shoot again. The utter frustration of the gun combined with the difficulty and sheer terror of confronting invisible aliens is enough to make you quit the game after only an hour or two. Sadly, I doubt that I'll ever finish it.