Tuesday, February 3, 2004

I Was An Atomic Mutant! (PC)

Rating: 3 out of 5
Pros: Decent graphics, simple gameplay
Cons: No story, no replay value

I Was An Atomic Mutant! (henceforth referred to as IWAAM for short) was developed by Canopy Games, and published by ValuSoft.

This game was bought for my little brother for his 10th birthday. After I installed it on my computer for him, he played it for an hour or so, experimenting with all four of the different characters; the 50 foot woman, the mutant mind, the atomic lizard, and the alien attack robot.

That's right folks, this is a walking, talking, B movie from the 1950's. That's what it was intended to be though. Movies such as Attack of the 50 Foot Woman and Godzilla are the basis on which this game was created.

The brief opening movies are grainy black and white "film clips", and so are the movies showing each of the four monsters. The loading screens carry the same effect, boasting Batman-like text and similar sound effects. The words are in spiky circles, or wavy lettering, just like you would expect to see in one of these old movies.

So anyway, you pick one of these four killer monsters, and you go wreak havoc upon towns and cities. While the game is pretty much void of any story at all, it don't really seem to even need one.

Each of the four monsters has different attacks, but they are all pretty much equal, so that the gameplay is similar regardless of which one you choose. They can all squish, stomp, or smash things, or they can all shoot things from a distance. While your giant lizard may smack things with it's tail, the 50 foot woman will stomp on them. While the alien attack robot may shoot evil death rays at things, the mutant mind will use it's nuclear psychosis.

Sound like fun yet? All this is done in a 3rd person perspective, using 3D models (the game uses the Havok engine for this). One minor quirk with this, is that when you try to aim and shoot something straight in front of you, your aiming is blocked by your character. Not that it matters a whole lot with a game this simple.

You have a health bar. You have a destruction bar. Simple as that. The purpose of each level is to fill the destruction bar to the top, by destroying buildings, people, cars, tanks, and airplanes. To stop you, the tanks, planes, and military soldiers will shoot at you constantly. It is more of an irritant than a threat though, as you would almost have to purposely let them kill you in order to lose this way.

The sound score for IWAAM was also really good. The sound score was done by Michael Wandmacher, who also worked on the soundtrack for the hit movie Legend of the Drunken Master.

Controls are simple and straight-forward. Pushing W, S, A, and D will move you up, down, left, and right, respectively. Moving your mouse around the screen works to aim, and pushing the left button uses whatever attack you have selected. If you have a wheel mouse, the wheel provides a quick way to switch through the four different attacks.

There is a patch available from ValuSoft's website, to bring the game up to version 1.10. This fixes some render and playback issues on some graphics cards. It also enhances the AI of the "puny humans", and adds 3 new camera views, so make sure to download the patch.

Minimum system requirements are average:  
Pentium II 400 MHz processor
128 MB RAM
8x CD-ROM drive, Keyboard, Mouse
DirectX 3D graphics card with 8 MB of VRAM
200 MB free Hard Drive Space
DirectX 8.1
DirectX compatible sound card

I actually tried this game on two computers. It wouldn't play on my old computer, because the old built-in graphics card only had 4 MB of VRAM, and IWAAM wouldn't display any graphics in software mode. It does work fine on my main computer though: Athlon XP 2200 , 512 MB RAM, 52x CD-ROM, GeForce 4 MX 440, 64 MB VRAM.

Overall, this game was slightly better than I had expected, but not much. There is really no replay value at all. It may keep you occupied for a half hour or so, then a couple months from now you may play it for another half hour... but not enough to bother keeping it installed on your computer.

Keep in mind that this is a budget game though, so it was well worth the small price tag, even for an hour's worth of gameplay.

If you like 3rd person shooters, or if you feel in the mood to re-live a 1950's B movie, then you should try this game. If you like I Was An Atomic Mutant!, you also might want to try Godzilla or War of the Monsters.

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