Steel Harbinger is a top-down, 3-D game with a full range of movement. The player takes control of Miranda Bowen, aka The Harbinger, and must rout an alien menace before it heralds in the apocalypse. The twist to this tired plot: The Harbinger (while killing aliens and rescuing humans), must eat her victims, humanoid and alien alike, to regain energy. The result? A grisly, action-packed joyride.
Steel Harbinger is an over-the-shoulder shooter with disappearing walls. (Its look isn't all that dissimilar to Loaded, but the closer view, more interesting story, and excellent cutscenes make it a superior title.) Luckily, the former Ms. Bowen spends much of her time outdoors, so the effect isn't overused. The level designs tend to be repetitive, but are challenging nonetheless. Perhaps the designers should have chosen dissimilar geographical regions to stage this war of the worlds. After all, on a 32-bit system the prairies of Kansas, the arctic desolation of Canada, and the desert wastelands near Las Vegas can easily look alike.
Background redundancy complaints aside, the graphics are very impressive. The Harbinger looks just dandy in her biomechanical bikini, and some of the giant monsters look great (especially the earthworms that turn humans into aliens). Other monsters, however, aren't up to 32-bit par: The centipedes resemble polygon versions of the upright snakes seen in Super Mario Bros. 2.
The only real problem with Steel Harbinger is the save game feature: Players can only save the game after they've found their way to Canada, and then it doesn't seem possible to get back. It's a frustrating flaw, especially since the level following Canada is incredibly difficult. It's also possible get to a battle ground too early. While this wouldn't ordinarily be a problem, players who find Canada before they encounter the logically preceding level won't be able to go back to beat it.
The controls are easy to pick up and very sharp, which means Steel Harbinger is both a great game to look at and a great game to play.