In Carrier, Jaleco's Resident Evil-style adventure, you play as one of two government agents who've been sent to investigate what's happened to an aircraft carrier that's lost communication with the mainland. The situation is bad, of course, and it involves an ancient organism that has taken control of the ship and turned most of the crew into hideous kill-crazy mutants. Your goal (as either the big-faced Jack Ingles or the strangely named Jessifer Manning) is to discover what happened, save any survivors, and destroy the menace before the carrier arrives into port.
Unfortunately, it seems like for every positive aspect of Carrier, there are one or two drawbacks. The graphics, for example, carry many nice little touches. If you walk through a puddle of blood, you'll leave bloody tracks for a few steps, and dispatched enemies dissolve into a wonderfully gruesome puddle. At the same time, the game's many explosions come off as half-hearted fizzles, and when water appears, it'll take you a moment to recognize what it is. Likewise, the rendered backgrounds look very sharp, full of metal walkways and machines that have a believable shine to them. But if those environments are populated with a lot of objects or growths, and most are, the frame rate slows to a crawl. (In fact, boss fights routinely drop you down to a slow-motion jog.) The monster designs are also fairly inventive, full of zombies that sprout sharpened ribs from their chests and split-headed mutants that try to bite you with what was once their faces. But if two attack you at the same time, the second will... walk through you. Similarly, the music and sound effects have some great moments that help build tension, but there are many instances where a scream or song sounds so inappropriate as to jar you out of the mood as well. The voice-overs have much the same feel as those in Resident Evil 2. That is, some are completely normal but every now and again there's the odd "Don't shoot! I'm a human!"
The control is - for the most part - good though. You'll get spoiled by not having to hit a button to climb stairs and using the analog pad to move has you run as a default, two elements where Carrier exceeds the current genre standard, Resident Evil: Code Veronica. The overall feel is much like that of Resident Evil actually, with a few slight changes. Instead of an auto-aiming feature, Carrier provides a target to show you if you've lined up your weapon's sight with a mutant's chest or head. The aiming system works well except when you're being attacked by a creature that's crawling along on the floor. You might have your gun trained down at an ankle biter, but if it sinks its teeth into you, your aim will default to straight ahead, and it's likely that you'll get bitten again before you can target it again properly. The recent addition to the Resident Evil line of a 180-degree spin move also appears in Carrier, but it's so easy to perform here that you'll often end up doing it accidentally.One major difference between the Resident Evil series and Carrier is that there's a rudimentary first-person mode within Carrier's main game. Early into the title, you gain special goggles that you can use to detect infection in those around you, scan rooms for objects, and see through blocked areas. But their main advantage is that they let you see beyond the normally visible screen. A common problem in survival-horror games is that having fixed camera angles within the environments keeps you from seeing if there are creatures just out of sight in the room with you. In Carrier, you can use the goggles to look around from a first-person perspective, eliminating any possible surprises. Another nice touch is the map system, which - once you've gained the map data for a level - shows which areas you haven't accessed yet and sometimes highlights rooms you have to return to.
Carrier does take longer than many games in the genre to complete, but that's mainly because there's a lot of ground to cover, and much of your time is spent backtracking. The map system saves you from having to wonder where you're supposed to go, though you'll still have to run around a lot, as keys and security controls are rarely found near the areas they unlock. For example, when playing as Jessifer, you'll use the security computer to open a door on a lower deck. An elevator is fairly close, but it is located near a section that's blocked off from the door you want to go through. Instead, you must travel to a catwalk that is close to the security computer, but because of a broken door sensor, you have to run all the way around the entire deck to get to it. And instances like that aren't rare. On the positive side, there are two characters to play as, as in most of the Resident Evil games, though Jessifer's scenario (the second) is much shorter than Jack's.
There are several minor points of contention too, such as bombs sometimes vanish if you're interrupted during a countdown and the fact that some enemies are so slow that the only way they can get you is if you stop to shoot them. These are not major problems in and of themselves, but along with the slowdown and the constant backtracking, they do add up. In the end, Carrier isn't an awful game, and it really does manage to grow on you after a while, but it definitely has problems. It's worth buying if you're an absolute survival-horror nut, but otherwise you might want to look into picking it up as a rental.