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Slave Zero: A small step for a robot, a giant leap for the Dreamcast

December 6, 1999
Web posted at: 9:37 a.m. EST (1437 GMT)

by Scary Larry

Action Shots

(IDG) -- Slave Zero is ready to introduce mech-style action to an anime-hungry fan following on the Dreamcast. Where else are you going to be able to pilot a 60-foot biomech war machine and go tearing through a city without regard or conscience?

Life in the big city

500 years in the future and mankind still hasn't got their stuff together.

A dictator named SovKahn is harvesting dark matter, which he uses to control the populace of the vast city S1-9. Apparently the stuff is popular, and as part of an underground resistance group you have to stop this madness with your 60-foot tall biomechanical can of whup-ass.

Your mech, known as Slave Zero, is capable of firing a heavy artillery ballistic weapon, a rocket-based weapon, and an energy weapon -- reloads are scattered throughout the levels, so there's a constant stream of action at all times. In addition to being heavily armed, your mech is capable of stomping tiny humans, destroying or throwing cars, and taking down whole buildings.

Anyone who has to suffer through city commute traffic will understand the joy in this.


Although the goals and objectives change in each of the thirteen extensive levels, your basic duty is to blow the crap out of anything and everything, and this game lets you accomplish that feat in style. Massive explosions and total wreckage rule the game, with little thought or strategy required.

That's not to say that the game is too easy -- you'll find yourself dying because of poor resource management in no time.

Tall, dark, and hands on

The game relies on large graphics and beautiful explosions to carry it through, but it falls short. The cityscapes are too dark and cluttered -- you won't be able to see enemies in the mosaic of twinkling lights and neon signs until it's too late.

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There's also precious little detail in the mech itself, although the rocket streams and gunfire registers nicely on the eyes. And you won't see a lot of chunky gore -- that's important to the hardcore shooter crowd, but casual gamers may still find merit in the bloodless Zero.

The game is replete with all the sounds of urban war -- sirens, screaming, explosions... and lots of cockpit chatter. The myriad levels of sound are great for inducing mood, but you'll find yourself growing weary of the chatter soon enough.

Slave Zero is no slave to the controller -- but your thumbs will be. Because of all the multitasking weapons, you'll find yourself relying on your machine gun and rockets primarily. That's a shame, because you can punch buildings, pick up and swing girders, and toss cars, all of which is lost because of the fast pace of the game and the controller layout.

Heavy metal

Giant robot action has never been so stylishly presented, probably because it's hard to make something so huge seem so graceful.

Slave Zero has grace and style, and lots of hardcore action, but it may not find an audience with shooter fans that want to see their gore in glorious technicolor.

Don't be a Slave to limited thinking -- Zero's a hero.

Pro Tips

  • Always check over the side of the road, and look carefully into long drops - there are hidden areas with weapon upgrades in some of those gulches.

  • Never stand toe-to-toe with a mech. Instead, hide, then dash out and strafe by an opponent to knock it off.

  • When facing the first boss, use your missiles to blast the buildings surrounding it. They contain tons of power-ups that you'll need as you strafe, move, and shoot.

  • Use your stomp to clear the roadways of cars, humans, and debris.

  • Shoot the generators that enemies spawn from or the waves of enemies will never end.

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    Download Slave Zero demo
    Preview: Slave Zero (Dreamcast)
    Preview: Slave Zero (PC)
    E3: Anime meets Blade Runner in Slave Zero
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