VrE Online Blast Chamber from Activision
Explosive entertainment comes home to your TV.

Rating: graphics 88, sound 83, interface 80, fun factor 85, overall 84

All is not as it seems these days. Raised from birth as the ultimate athlete you've trained for this day. The years of hard work and effort at "the game" have come to this moment. However more than your honor is at stake for in the Blast Chamber the only reward for losing is death. Only hours ago did you learn of the twisted entertainment values of the 21st century and the deadly effects of the Blast Chamber. While you feel more than human, you're simply regarded as lowly cattle in a slaughterhouse. Perform and you may win your freedom, fail and you lose your life. Strapped to your body is a powerful explosive wired to a timer; when that timer reaches zero you'll be nothing more than human puree. The reality of your situation sinks in as you're ushered to your place in the Blast Chamber--you're up next.

Blast Chamber Blast Chamber pits you against the clock and against up to four other players in a race for survival. Each starts with an explosive strapped to their chests and 3 minutes of time before the bomb goes off. You can evade death if you can get to the Crystal and put it in your own reactor--giving you more time on your clock. If you have enough time, you can shorten your opponents clock by putting the Crystal in their reactors. Keep in mind your opponents are trying to do the same. The Blast Chamber is capable of rotating by stepping on a kicker located on the walls--the wall becomes the floor and the other wall, the ceiling. Oh, and don't forget about the various power-ups that will appear every so often in each level. Collect the Mercury power-up and run like the wind, paralyze your opponents, or just get the Crystal Bomb which turns the prized Crystal into a deadly bomb. Anything goes in the Blast Chamber and usually does.

The graphics and special effects in Blast Chamber are good. The chamber itself is presented from the side and you can move the camera around to view different areas of the chamber. The rotating of the chamber is smooth and quick. The men running around trying to save their skins are rendered quite well but they are on the small side. It's understandable that if the men were too large that the Chamber would get too small, but the men could have been a little larger. The special effects of your men exploding into a shower of light and smoke, however, are very cool. Thankfully Activision decided that blood splatters and body parts flying would be a bit too graphic and left them out.

The sound effects and music in Blast Chamber are good as well and don't get on your nerves. There's sound effects for when your men jump, fall from 20 feet as the floor becomes a wall, and--of course--when you explode. The music is a mellowed down version of techno and rock helping to get the adrenaline pumping.

The controls for Blast Chamber are fairly straight-forward. The directional pad moves you around, one of the shape buttons pushes an opponent, one makes you jump and one toggles the auto-cam. If you can't see what you're doing, press one of the R or L buttons to get a better view of one of the four sides. Now all you need to do is master the timing of when to push your opponent down and all the strategies of this game of survival.

Blast Chamber Mastering the strategies of Blast Chamber is vital to your survival in this deadly game. When playing against three other computer players the first few times you'll get properly spanked. The computer AI is ruthless about pushing you down when you have the Crystal and you're heading for your own reactor. The computer will get the Crystal and put it in your reactor, lowering the time on your clock. The most difficult aspect of playing against the computer is when to press the shove button. Often you'll press the button, but you'll get thrown to the ground as the computer races past you and adds time to it's own timer. This gets quite frustrating. What's more frustrating is when you're stepping on a kicker that's about to activate and the computer is doing the same on the other side of the chamber--the computer always gets to rotate first, throwing you to the floor.

The best way to enjoy Blast Chamber is to get a few buddies around and play against one another. Playing against a human is much more enjoyable because you can harass and tease your friends while you play. When you play against the computer, it often feels like the computer is ganging up on you; and you'd be right. Each computer opponent is going after the same goal--the destruction of the other guy. If all three computer players rotate the chamber to your reactor, you're toast. Rotate to another reactor before one of the computer players pushes you to the floor while the other computer player snags the Crystal and puts it in your reactor. Fun soon turns to anger and frustration as the computer calmly puts the Crystal into your reactor, making your timer run to zero. Kaboom! You're dead.

Playing the solo levels of Blast Chamber is a good, fun challenge. The goal of the solo-player levels is to put the Crystal into your reactor before the timer runs down. Sometimes you're given 45 seconds and other times you're given two minutes. With the average completion time of 30 seconds per level in the first 10 or so levels, you'll be staring at the scoring and loading screens more than the Blast Chamber. The loading times between levels do tend to feel a bit long but they're a nice resting period for your hands. In the later levels, you'll be searching frantically for the correct path first to the Crystal and then to the reactor.

Some of those puzzles become quite tricky, especially when they throw power-ups that change how your man moves. The Psi-Bomb makes your man move in the opposite direction that you press which becomes confusing at first. The Mag-Boots powerup lets you walk on the walls and ceiling; the controls change and you have to quickly figure out which button moves your guy in which direction. Throw in Plasma beams, electrical pits and razor sharp spikes and you have a very entertaining game.

Blast Chamber The biggest problem of Blast Chamber are the camera angles. In a few of the levels you'll have to jump into the screen up stepping platforms. The problem is that you have no idea where you're man is on those platforms or how far you're supposed to jump. You can't see a shadow and there is no camera angle that reveals your current location. I've died on more than one occasion because of a jump that was over-shot. Player control can become a bit awkward because of unusual camera angles and limited visual feedback as to where you are in relation to everything around you.

Blast Chamber is an original game that combines a 3D environment in a new and entertaining way. Combining old and new ideas, Activision has come up with an enjoyable game. Good graphics and good music help bring this explosive game to life. Despite the questionable camera angles, Blast Chamber is a blast. (Pun intentional)

-- Louis Stice
-- louis@psyber.com


Players: 4 (Using a Multi-Tap)Password: Yes
Memory Card: Yes, 1 BlockLink-Up: No
ESRB Rating: Teen

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