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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Expendable Review

Original Release:
Japan: June 24, 1999
North America: 9.9.99
Europe: ???

Game Details:
1-2 Player
VMU enabled
Standard Controller
VGA Box (480p)

Expendable is a top down, run and gun shoot ‘em up game, (Think Contra: Legacy of War… Now immediately forget the existence of that horrible entry in the Contra series) developed by British studio Rage Software. Originally released for the Playstation platform, it eventually made its way on the Dreamcast as part of the stellar launch line-up for the system here in the states courtesy of Infogrames. Rage Software as a developer was becoming known for their distinct arcade-like style gameplay that their productions would undertake and Expendable sure seems to convey such philosophies… resulting in a friendly learning curve in understanding the game mechanics and control scheme. This bodes well in encouraging others to join in on some Co-Op 2 player action where the games true potential is realized.        

Set in a future timeline where the galaxy is conquered by some douchebag of an alien race (seriously now! looks like Probing poor saps was only the beginning of their nefarious plans). Scientists have created the “Millennium Soldier” project, which resulted in the cloning 2 Super-Soldiers as means to combat the alien threat. The game CGI intro explains everything. Well… maybe not everything in such detail, but the cutscene is rather humorous.      

I may be mistaken, but I believe Expendable’s visuals are a result of an in-house engine that was utilized on all of Rage’s products at the time. As you would expect, considering the game was originally designed for the PS1, the game does little to make a dent to the Dreamcast hardware. With that said though, the game isn’t anywhere close to being a visually ugly game on the Dreamcast Library (trust me, there are plenty other games on the Dreamcast that deserve that award!). The game is easily one of the darkest looking games on the system, but plenty of the games visual effects and lighting look really good. Another interesting note is even as an early Dreamcast production, the game fully supports the Hi-res VGA mode, and looks damn good through the signal no less.  

The Audio to Expendable is surprisingly goodtimes. SFX are crisp and clear. Weaponry effects sound engaging, explosions sound great, and alien casualties sound rich and grotesque as you fill their carcasses with bullet holes until they fall apart to bloody pieces. The games soundtrack is also well crafted, providing a real moody and atmospheric sense to the gritty, dark world of the game. It’s worth noting that this particular RDC release of the game, does as much as possible (at least more than any other offering out there) to preserve the quality of the games audio to properly fit the game in into 80min Compact Disc. Major props go to RDC for keeping such quality in their releases as we’ve come to expect from their work.      

It seems it’s pretty easy to overlook this game. There isn’t anything particularly special or innovative to it. It’s all straightforward, standard fare with the games respective genre… and that isn’t such a bad thing considering the slim pickings there are for it on the system (Cannon Spike is the only alternative that pops in to mind at the moment). Expendable may not be prettiest one at the party, but damn, is it fun to play.


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