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Bandits: Pheonix Rising

Developer: GRIN | Publisher: Tri Synergy
Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 03/28/03 | Genre: Action

Car combat has always been a favourite of mine, especially on the consoles where games like Twisted Metal Black, and Vigilante 8 shine. They have always had this great fun about them combining two enjoyable elements, driving and shooting, into one all out brawl-fest. Developer GRIN with publisher Tri Synergy Inc, create a fairly straightforward game which while fulfilling your need for fun action, doesn't offer as much as you would like.

Bandits takes place in a world of deserts, rock, and wastelands. Life is harsh for the people in these lands, and they must form into Tribes to be able to survive and attain the natural assets for life. On these harsh lands, gangs of Bandits riding their very own custom built battle cars must fight for what they want, this is where you come in. You take control of a vehicle composed of two people, Fennec and Rewdalf (one who drives and the other who shoots). You simultaneously control both actions, driving with the keyboard and shooting with the mouse, which ultimately lets you drive in one direction while shooting in another (though you can also choose to drive in the direction in which the mouse is facing).

The game includes 22 missions, which while there is some difference, there isn't that much variety between them. For example, one mission has you driving from one point, to obtain a key from another point to open a door and arrive at another point, all while baddies are after you. These are missions are fairly straight forward though still very fun, but can get repetitive after a while. Before each missions begins, you can decide how you want your vehicle decked out. You start with choosing from you chasey(heavy, medium, light), and add any weapons that you might want throughout the mission.

The largest problem facing Bandits, as far as gameplay goes, is that there is no way to save your game in the middle of a mission, and you can only save once you have completed one. This problem is even enlarged by the simple fact that this game gets very hard and frustrating. Even on the second level I was having trouble, and it gets extremely annoying when you get far into a level, only to die before the ending sequence.

Where this game fairs pretty well is in the graphics. It's no Doom 3, but it still looks well above average, and everything runs perfectly smooth with no framerate hick-ups of any sort. The levels featured within the game are pretty large, and the draw-distance isn't bad, but with the size of the levels its understandable why it isn't perfect. The car models are detailed, though the levels are not. There is not much in the way of texture on either the car models or landscapes, but to reiterate my earlier point, the levels are big so its forgivable.

The sound within the game is about average. You will either love or hate Scottish accented Rewdalf, though there is no denying that his voice was well done. The other characters voices don't fair as well, but aren't horrible. The music I find is barley even noticeable when playing as it seems to fit the mood of the game nicely, but doesn't really stand out as a strong point.

Multi-player online play is supported, but is no doubt an after thought. There are only simple deathmatch modes available, and so much more could have been included and would have been a welcome addition if the developer just chose to include more modes of play.

Bandits: Phoenix Rising is not a bad game by any sorts, but is very repetitive. It's also very frustrating at times with a terrible save system. But if you are in the mood for some fun vehicular action then this game is the best thing out there right now in that area. Though be warned, it gets frustrating, and once you beat all 22 missions, even with the online mode, there isn't much in the way of replayability. Worth your money, but not something you want to rush out an buy.

By David Doel - 03/27/03
ESRB Details: Violence

Screenshots for Bandits: Pheonix Rising


Bandits: Pheonix Rising