The industry is constantly responding to owners of next-generation graphics accelerators, who are always desperate for some new game to show off their powerful hardware - even if it's an older, repackaged game with 3D support slapped on. Case in point: Swiv 3D Assault, a year-old British title that's been revamped with support for 3Dfx cards, MMX, and Windows 95.
In the short time since its creation, SWIV is already retro. At its roots, this is a reworked 3D version of an action-shooter on the Commodore 64, where you're issued one of six combat vehicles and drive (or fly) around, killing rebels 'til you can't kill no more.
The missions will take you through a variety of combat environments, from mountain ranges to snowy glaciers, all packed with turrets, enemy tanks, and building complexes. Though the terrain rendering looks pretty impressive, your view is "fogged out" after a few dozen feet, obstructing what might lurk ahead. The frame rate is more than acceptable on the base system, and the control is similarly fast, auto-adjusting your helicopter's altitude so you won't keep smacking into mountains.
On the other hand, the auto-targeting system is a double-edged sword. When you draw a bead on an enemy vehicle, the computer takes over - but shrubbery gets targeted alongside enemy tanks, so you can expect a missile or two to miss its mark and demolish a tree instead. Hitting ground targets in the helicopter is equally annoying, since you must get close to your target so the shots don't pass over their heads - and by then, you'll already have been nailed by a swarm of bullets.
This brings up another problem (or blessing, depending on your skill): SWIV is an extremely difficult game. You have one life and a very short power bar, health is sparse, and your standard-issue weapon is about as ineffective as the axe in Quake. There are a few treasure troves of missiles here and there, and you must find them, since seek-and-destroy missions are impossible without more advanced instruments of war. Discovering these is a quest in itself, as the overhead map at the top of the screen has a highly limited range. SWIV does have a musical perk, however: the game CD contains some tracks with classical music, and you can rain napalm upon your enemies while cranking out Ride of the Valkyries in true Apocalypse Now style.
Getting SWIV up and running under Windows 95 may prove to be as difficult as playing the game. The plain-vanilla test machine encountered Windows crashes out the wazoo before the game would even launch, and unless you have a 3Dfx card, you might want to consider installing the straight DOS version instead. You won't miss much, as 3D acceleration does very little for this game - aside from smoother-looking terrain, there's little worth mentioning.
Bugs aside, SWIV is a fun but shallow shooter. Keep in mind that you'll need the reflexes of a six-year old Nintendo junkie to stand a chance - but if you think you've got what it takes, this is a solid blast-fest that shooter fans should consider picking up.