Haven - Call Of The King
Haven - Call Of The King images
Review of Haven - Call Of The King
Haven: Call of the King arrived at our office with the distinct promise of combining many elements of gaming into one complete package. The advertising on the box shouts out “Get ready to use everything you have ever learned”…I presume they mean in videogaming. Well, I have been playing for quite a long time and have certainly “learned” what I like and what I don’t like. Let’s just see if Haven’s bite is as good as its bark.
Starting off the game, the menu interface is extremely stark…load up a game, start a new one, and a couple of configuration options. The opening pic appears to be running on the in-game engine and is quite attractive, giving a bit of background and introducing the villain – Vetch. It seems the old Vetch has complete control over the known universe and is warned by one of his minions (The Overload), that a slave named Haven poses a potential threat to his dominance. Vetch orders that Haven be kept on a short leash and observed. We are then treated to a few cut scenes where we watch Haven create a mechanical bird named Talon and one that features some dude that looks like the Jerry Lewis mad scientist character. We are then dumped into the game and are faced with the first action sequence that requires gamers to control Haven out of a mine collapse.
The first thing that struck me was Haven’s appearance…he strongly resembles that Olympic skating dude, Anton Ono…except for the cornrows of red hair. Okay, so we have an extreme speed skater for a hero…cool…I guess. The town that Anton, I mean Haven starts off in earnest in is a quaint little place that will assist gamers in getting the controls down before the game start to kick into high gear…which happens rather abruptly.
Haven has few gadgets that will come in handy throughout the game. The first thing is called a Gauntlet, which Haven wears around his wrist. This device acts as a radar screen, health, shield power and antidote identifier. It also has several other uses, but I will leave that for you to discover. His other main gadget is a weapon that looks like a yo-yo called a Mag-Ball. This little beauty can be given temporary upgrades that transforms it into a laser shooting type of weapon. To obtain the upgrades, and many other things like life, antidote and keys, pots must be broken. Ah, but there are many, many different types of pots…good pots, bad pots and just plain nasty ass pots. Good pots of course have all kinds of goodies in them and can be easily broken with Havens Mag-Ball. Bad pots for the most part can be broken just as easily, but if Haven is too close he will get injured and lose a life (bad pots tend to explode violently or spit out acid). Some pots that contain valuable Ruins can only be opened by collecting a certain amount of keys. There is one other pot that requires the use of a Shield Dragon. These little critters can be found living in fire pots and are attracted to your shield. Haven can guide them to the pots to break them open. As I mentioned, Haven has a shield in addition to his other gadgets. The shield can be used to block attacks and deflect enemy fire. It can also be used in combination with attack moves to open shielded pots and lay the smack down on opponents.
The gameplay in Haven at its heart is a platform title, but the developers saw fit to add a metric ton of additional gameplay elements. Haven will not only have you bouncing around, but be prepared to also fly in jet packs, glider, hover planes, bi-planes and a cool Sun Surfer. In addition, there are speedboats and a quad racer. The fun can best be summed up as a platform, racer, action, adventure quest that will have Haven doing all sorts of things to get through any given level. While some people may scoff at the premise of being good at a lot of things but not great at any one thing, Haven’s multitude of styles are very well hashed out and implemented. I had absolutely not trouble transitioning from one genre to another and the controls were easy to acclimate to. I actually appreciated all of this diversity in the game and looked forward to what could happen next.
Thankfully everything is implemented quite well in the game because to be honest, the title is hard as hell. So hard in fact that I cannot possibly imagine a newbie getting very far without throwing the controller down in disgust. This will of course appeal immensely to the hardcore gamers out there that appreciate a good challenge. The difficulty level ramps up quite early in the game as well. Use the initial village to really practice and get used to things because one you enter the next level the game starts throwing everything it has at you.
About the stumbling point in the game is the aiming feature. In some instances it sucks, especially when Haven is shooting a modified Mag-Ball weapon, and in others like the rail shooting it works fine. For whatever reason when Haven is shooting it is recommended that players enter the first person mode, and yet in some of the contests entering into first person was not allowed. There is also no targeting indicator in some modes and indicators in others. It isn’t a tragic flaw in the gameplay, just something that wasn’t consistent for whatever reason.
From a graphical viewpoint, Haven is very nicely done. The draw distance is insane, the load times between levels and gameplay options is non-existent (everything is streamed, as it should be on the PS2), and the frame rate is pretty consistent…but does bog down at some of the strangest times. There were some levels that had an incredible amount of special effects, character movement and action taking place at once, without any hint of slowdown…and then other times, like in a village when I was shooting at an enemy, that the game decided to slow down a bit. This happened infrequently and luckily had little to no impact on the gameplay thankfully.
The character models are of course fully polygonal, as is the background and the detail is quite nice with generous texturing and nice smooth edges. The animation is also top notch and I appreciated the fact that there was always a lot of action and characters on the screen at any given time.
The backgrounds are truly gorgeous and feature some sweet looking level designs and special effects. The one thing that really stands out is the amount of activity going on at any given point of time. The levels are virtually alive with character movement, moving machinery, autobots, water, lava flowing, fires buring, etc. There is also an active weather system implemented as well as time of day changes that are all done very convincingly and with subtlety.
The sound effects and soaring musical score are ace. First the music…it is grand and majestic and works perfectly in complimenting the huge environments that Haven travels through. The tracks successfully build to crescendos at all of the appropriate moments and than hangs out in the background when its supposed to. This is how music should be implemented.
The sound effects are spectacular. The single coolest effect that stuck with me throughout the game, was one of the first noises that appear in the game…the rainfall. As it begins to pour, the pattering of the rain off the ground and buildings is perfectly represented…but what really sounded awesome were the larger spouts of water draining from gutters, rooftops or other tall structures…it just sounded so real and added so much to the “feel” at that particular moment in the game that I never forgot it.
OUR PLEDGE: We promise that we have fully played 'Haven - Call Of The King' before writing this review. The scores given above are our honest opinion and were not influenced in any way by the manufacturer or distributor of the game.
This review was written by Tom Rooney © Absolute PlayStation
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