Acclaim Studios London must have noticed that MicroProse had neglected to properly exploit its license for last year's giant bug-filled sci-fi film Starship Troopers for the console systems, because the inspiration behind its latest game for the Nintendo 64 is crystal clear. Though the name of the game comes from a little-known Acclaim Comics property where a military unit possesses futuristic suits of armor along the lines of Marvel Comics' Iron Man, the alien race that the group clashes with in Armorines is totally dissimilar to the one found in the comic book. However, the alien race bears more than a passing resemblance to the swarm of creatures found in Paul Verhoeven's recent cinematic ode to fascism.
Enough back story. Armorines is a first-person shooter in which you have two characters to choose from, one who is slow but powerful and another who moves and fires more quickly but isn't quite as sturdy. This choice of characters is the game's main innovation over Acclaim's Turok 2: Seeds of Evil, the game whose engine powers Armorines, which comes up very short in comparison. In fact, Armorines is, in many ways, all the things you didn't like about Turok 2 and little of what you did like.
The inventive weapons, well-designed monsters, and challenging enemy AI found in Turok 2 are all missing here, and the only scripted events you'll come across are an onrush of monsters after you've opened a door or have acquired an item. Remember the big levels in Turok 2, where you had to backtrack for half an hour just to find a key or kidnapped child? Do you recall how your enemies disappeared after they died so you didn't have a clear indication if you'd been in that area before? Both of those elements are well represented in Armorines, with a dash of unclear explanation of mission objectives tossed in for good measure. For example, in one of the jungle missions, you're charged with destroying 34 alien eggs before they hatch. Expect to run around the level for quite awhile, looking for the last batch of eggs, all the while wondering how many you have remaining because the only indication of your progress is an open checkbox on your mission list (indicating you haven't found them all and, likewise, completed the mission). "What do I do now?" and "Which way am I supposed to go?" are questions that come up far too often in this game.Armorines supports the Expansion Pak, which bumps up its graphics to high resolution without affecting the frame rate aversely. Unfortunately, the environments are very sparse and bland and appear much more like those found in the original Turok game than in its more impressive sequel. And while fog is not always present, draw-in appears quite often. Besides the in-game visuals, the game's presentation and interface are extremely lackluster and add to the impression that the title was rushed out the door for a holiday release.
The audio side of Armorines is simply lousy. The soundtrack is made up of extremely short, rhythmic loops, while effects like walking on stone are represented with a sound like someone dribbling a basketball, and enemy death knells sound like a horse screaming in pain.
The multiplayer modes in Armorines aren't all bad, but they're not that great, either. A few basic alterations on the standard deathmatch are provided, and a decent frame rate is maintained. But the levels are very boring. It's hard to draw a bead on your foes, and all the little extras seen in other N64 games with multiplayer modes over the last few years fail to appear. However, a two-player cooperative version of the main game is offered, which does end up adding a lot of value to the title.
One strong point isn't enough to save Armorines, though, with everything else just conspiring to make it feel like a bad Turok 2: Seeds of Evil clone. And since the developers couldn't put a ton of huge monstrous bugs onscreen at once because they'd bog down the frame rate, Armorines is prevented from being the Starship Troopers bug hunt it so desperately wanted to be.