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Mega Drive Longplay [452] X-Perts

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Played by: Reinc

The game's plot is based on an alternate timeline in which Shadow Yamoto was not killed by the Black Orchid in 1993. Instead, she joined Janus. In the game, a group of terrorists take over Janus's undersea lab. Shadow and the X-Perts embark on a mission to stop the terrorists.

X-Perts is a side-scrolling action/strategy video game produced by Sega of America and released only in North America for the Sega Genesis in 1996. It is a spin-off of Eternal Champions starring the assassin Shadow Yamoto, who is depicted in her design from Eternal Champions: Challenge from the Dark Side. This game was made as an answer from Sega to Nintendo's Donkey Kong Country. As such the graphics were pre-rendered in 3D then converted into sprite form which is similar to the method used in that game. This method resulted in the game being released on a 32 Megabit ROM, the biggest Sega had ever made.

Characters:

Shadow - the Black Orchid gang member from Eternal Champions. Weapon: crossbow. Skill (best to worst): fighting/speed/maintenance/marksmanship/hacking

Tashile - bionic woman. Her gun is the best. Weapon: supersonic beam. Skill (best to worst): maintenance/marksmanship/speed/hacking/fighting

Zachary - Dolph Lundgren looking G.I. Joe clothes wearing dude. Weapon: submachine gun. Skill (best to worst): hacking/fighting/marksmanship/speed/maintenance

This game is obviously unfinished. The sound effects are surprisingly generic and unrealistic for a 16 bit game, the soundtrack is limited to the title screen theme - the rest is just a low-quality generic industrial drone; jerky animations, missing sprite frames, an abundance of glitches and bugs, collision and physics that don't make any sense and the missing RAM battery feature (which is promised on the game's box, no less) - all this points to Sega's deep involvement in the development process. In the interview, Tony Van - X-Perts' lead developer - said: "X-Perts was probably the hardest and least fulfilling thing I've ever done in my professional life. It was like someone telling you to make Coke from a lemon", he also noted that the game suffered from change of leadership, as he left his team five months before finishing the game, and from his own ineptitude in making fighting games. Other missing features include: hacking/maintenance mini-games that would speed up the process of completing tasks; visible friendly robots (they are one of the four togglable markers on the map, but they never show up anywhere in the game).

Since it has no battery back-up, the game is broken down into chapters (save points) and each chapter remembers the status of the entire environment (enemies, flooded areas, broken power grids, hacked computers, and active force fields). The game does not, however, remember the amount of health and ammo your characters have, and doesn't remember which guards and robots you terminated, so it just instantly respawns them all when a new chapter starts (it's not a good thing).

There are three so-called "kill moves", which can also be used to torture enemy guards to get information: forward-forward A+C, up-up A+C and down-down A+C. I could talk to a terrorist once (I was trying to do this for hours). But the interrogating dialog wasn't successful. When you use down-down A+C, you have to lose one shot from your gun. I guess the chance for successful interrogation either wasn't implemented, or it's just as small as the chance to start an interrogation.

All the flaws aside, I think the main problem people have with this game is the fact that they expect it to be an action game while the most important parts of the gameplay are actually (or, at least, were supposed to be) puzzle solving and strategy. Also, I have to admit, the 3D graphics are among the best on the system and the backgrounds make an excellent use of Mega Drive's limited palette. I also like the core idea of the game: putting players in a dynamic, adaptive, highly interactive hostile enviroment in which they can complete multiple simultaneous tasks in a non-linear fashion. There is a lot of wasted potential in this game. Maybe if the developers could spend more time on it and then release it on Sega Saturn, X-Perts would turn out to be much better. But the way it is, it is one of the worst games ever made.

I try completing as many tasks as I can, so I didn't show alternative tasks that give you chances to avoid failing your mission after something goes wrong. After beating the game, I demonstrate the rest of the moves and the special bad ending that you get when failing magma-related missions. There is also the normal bad ending/game over scene that I didn't show, but it looks the same as the good ending, except it doesn't have an escape pod in it.

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