July 30, 2009Save Earth from the threat of an alien species… yada, yada, yada – same old plot, but what does Crystal Dynamics do to make Total Eclipse interesting? As it turns out, they are able to capitalize on the advent of 3-D technology to create a highly detailed, varied rail shooter that for any of its faults, works pretty well. Total Eclipse is set in the distant future where humans have the capability to travel to different solar systems and yet have somehow been unable to shake that damn military brass balls attitude. You are placed in charge of different missions to help earth in the attack against a group of aliens who have decided that they think humans would be a tasty meal. Little do they know, humans taste awful.
3-D / Textures
Total Eclipse truly shines in it’s adoption of 3-D perspective and use of realistic (for 1996) textures. The textures of the differing terrains create a believable alien environment. The framerate stays very consistent for a game with this much going on, even during very intense moments of action.
Cheesy guitar riffs and bad sax couldn’t be better suited for Total Eclipse. Albeit somewhat redundant, the music is a very strong supporting feature of the game and provides a nice undertone to all of the action.
Right from the opening credits, the player is greeted by a cutscene of epic mid-90’s proportions. Full 3-D renderings and perhaps even some animatronics were utilized in the creation of these exceptionally engaging and over-the-top voice acted scenes.
The most frustrating parts of this game rear their ugly heads during moments when flying to the far right or far left to avoid a wall or enemy. It is near impossible to know what is up ahead due to the perspective. The camera allows for no panning – it has plenty of tilting – which seems completely extraneous in my opinion, but no way of actually looking ahead and to the sides. If they were able to add the ability to tilt the plane and camera, could they not have added the ability to pan from side to side?
I give great praise to the developers for this project, however, the action becomes very static because of poor level design. There are two different types of environments – an open-space low flying terrain and a very tight-spaced interior corridor. While interesting at first, these two types repeat over and over again giving the player a uninteresting sense of repetition and metronome-like expression.
Needless to say, the poor level design ultimately leads to repetitive gameplay and a general disinterest after a few levels. The enemies rarely have any new tricks up their sleeves and the boards, aside from texture, look virtually the same as one another. This game could have used serious boost about a third of the way through.
Total Eclipse is great when you first pop it in and start flying – after about ten minutes of crashing into the sides of walls and running out of life because you can find enough power-ups the player may quickly lose interest. Take a look at this title, but don’t go out of your way to hunt it down.