E x h u m e d
a . k . a . p o w e r s l a v e
Developed by: Lobotomy Software inc
Published by: Lobotomy Software inc
Retail Price: Out of Production
Official Release Date: 1996
Formats: PC, Playstation/PsOne, Sega Saturn
1996. When the N64 seemed like it would never come out; when the PsOne was still called Playstation; When Half-Life was still a term only common amongst physics students, and when a small development team in LA decided to do a game about stealing cars. While all this was going on, a small game by the name Exhumed was released. And while it did get a lot of critical acclaim and praise, it didn't sell very well. In time, it grew into one pf the lesser-known underdogs in the gaming industry, and it was chucked off the production line to make room for other, more profitable games. Too bad really, because it's a damn good one as well
Exhumed is an FPS in the most generic way imaginable; run around and shoot things while collecting items and keys. There were a few novel things thrown in for good measure, but probably the most striking thing about this game is it's setting, that of Egypt, more precisely the area surrounding the city Karnak. You see, these aliens have come for a visit and are basically trying to enslave mankind. Funnily enough, they bare a striking resemblance to Egyptian gods of old. Coincidence?
As the last survivor of a crack team of commandos sent in to clear the mess up (everything else failed, apparently), you must journey through the Karnak area, wiping out the entire alien population bit by bit. An easy feat this isn't.
The Egyptian theme has been taken full advantage in the presentation of this game. The graphics, while fairly outdated by today's standards (using the Duke Nukem 3D engine), were magnificently detailed back then, and very clear indeed. And for some reason or another, the player's view had a sort of fish eye effect at the edges, which gave a seriously mysterious vibe to the game. The graphics are very clear, and the design seems so real, you'd believe that they went on location and took pictures of everything for research.
The enemies are obviously very Egyptian based, with their people with dog heads, huge mosquitos, mummies and what not. There is a lot of variation between them, some faster than others, some more powerful, and some just down right uglier than the rest. As usual, there a multitude of bosses scattered around a few levels, and while they don't require any real strategy, are a t least a pretty sight ( at a designer's point of view).
The weapons available are also very influenced by Egyptian myth and legend. Your first weapon is a machete, and you go on to find pistols and machine guns (M-60). Fair enough. Then there are the ancient Egyptian hand grenades, which act pretty much the same as normal ones really. Other weapons include a flamethrower, a strange wand of some sort that shoots out mini snakes, the Ring of Ra that shoots fireballs, and the manacle of power, which shoots blue lightning at enemies (which can be charged).
The peculiar thing about the weapons system is that they all use the same ammunition - weapon power, which are blue spheres dotted around the game (although new weapons are pictured as they look like on the ground). As well as blue spheres are the red spheres, which replenish your health. While slightly unrealistic, this does make things incredibly simple, so you don't have to charge from one level to another looking for a certain type of ammo.
Apart from these are the keys, which open doors to other levels (see below), and the Artefacts. The Artefacts are undiscardable, and for a reason. Each one helps you in some way. For example, the Sandals Of Ikumptet help you jump further and higher than usual, helping you reach places in levels you couldn't reach without them. There are six items, each with their own power, and cannot be lost and never have to be activated to use.
And while that seems fine and dandy, these artefacts are incredibly helpful in reaching new levels. Which brings us to the map system. Each level has multiple exits, each leading to different levels. There are only so many of these "hub" levels (Karnak being the biggest), as the rest tend to have one exit. And once you've completed a level, you don't have to trudge back by yourself - just pick a level and you start wherever you last exited from. It's a novel idea that has been done hundreds of times anyway, but at least it adds a little something to the tried and tested formula of old.
If the game sounds a bit dull to you, I don't blame you - because it does. But the thing that keeps it interesting is the Egyptian theme, which affects everything from the intricate level design, to the atmospheric music. To be honest, if the game wasn't so highly polished in presentation, I probably wouldn't have even tried to track it down four years after production was ended. If you can find it (it should be quite cheap), I say buy it. While it isn't very original, and certainly isn't the best game money can buy, it IS a thoroughly enjoyable game. Recommended to all.