Ravage, D.C.X.: Evil, inhuman forces of unknowable intent are at work. Our souls are being sucked dry right before our eyes, humanity has no choice but to watch and obey, and the current state of Earth's considerable technology seems unable to help us. I'm not talking about the story premise of Inscape's Ravage D.C.X.: I'm talking about the game design itself.
When will the world tire of rail-shooters?
Inscape, in what appears to be a desperate attempt to convince the world that they're not all The Dark Eye, Drowned God and (shudder) Adventures of the Smart Patrol, have rolled out this booming, cinematic, largely camera-driven shooter. In Ravage D.C.X., a badly bungled goverment experiment has opened a transdimensional gateway, and has attracted the attention of The Necron, advanced, exoskeletal aliens in need of a serious chat with their collective inner child. The Necron immediately stomp through said gateway and commence to butt-kickin' in a series of different "dimensions," or levels, including a desert temple strongpoint surrounded by sitting-duck combat forces just begging to be smart-bombed, an alternate Mars and Moon, the inevitable ice realm (serving as a Necron naval base) and, ultimately, Washington, D.C., where a climactic battle is staged after all six alien dimensions have been mopped up and shut down. (No, there isn't a "lava level," but there might as well be.) The player takes the role of a modern-day soldier, part of a rebel resistance base that teleports him from dimension to dimension as the game progresses. Once in the battle, players can choose to conduct combat on foot, vehicle to vehicle, or from the air. Missions include smooth and dizzying canyon-trench runs like something out of Star Wars (complete with thundering soundtrack and a camera that occasionally whips around behind you to let you pick off targets you might have overshot), "Panocube" views (a kind of snappy, QuickTimeVR-like panoramic engine), and good old on-foot mayhem in the vein of Virtua Cop except that the enemy is one heck of a lot uglier. Various cut scenes provide transition between different modes of combat (such as the player ditching his shot-down fighter in favor of a land cycle), advance the story, and provide updates on the progress of the war storyline.
Looking at the list of gameplay claims on the box, you'd think Ravage was the end of the world in more ways than one: "GROUNDBREAKING - Totally redefines the action/shooter game!" (Inscape made this one up); "seamless cuts to and from gameplay to allow infinite replayability" (a yo-yo, too, has just this sort of "infinite replayability"); "attack from all angles! Panocube engine enables an amazing 180x360 range of view" (just don't plan on getting off that rail); "Ravage's actual gameplay graphics look better than most cut sequences" (okay, they got me there, although it can be argued that the entire game is a cut sequence); "YOU'RE IN CONTROL - set the difficulty level to create your own challenge" (Easy, Medium, and Hard! Yow!). But here's the truth: Ravage D.C.X., like Microsoft's Deadly Tide, is just another pretty rail shooter that's good for some initial movie-style twitch-and-kill, but loses its charm exponentially not long thereafter.