Pros: Completely unique, challenging, plenty of extra and secret bonus items
Cons: Blurry textures and can be repetitive at times, no real plot to speak about
Blast Corps was the second game released for the N64 and it is one of the more unique titles in the N64 library. Blast Corps is an interesting one of a kind type of game that had no relation to any former game made by Rare, or for that matter anyone else, and there has never been a game quite like it since.
There is some kind of plot but it's really just more of a premise to set up the action. The background is that there is a nuclear warhead carrier that can't be stopped or steered heading locked pre-programmed on course into a city full of buildings. You have to stop a nuclear-warhead carrier from impacting upon the obstacles in its way and setting of a catastrophic nuclear explosion. Because the carrier can't be stopped or diverted from it's course it is up to you to clear it's way by destroying everything that stands in it's path. At your disposal is a huge variety of construction machines, war machines, mecha cyborg suits, and anything else you can lay your hands on. So all in all the story doesn't play a major role in this game. There isn't as such true developed plot as such, just an intermittent paragraph of information referring to how your actions and the progress you are making. While there isn't much of a story to be had in this game it is not a story driven game, the focus is instead focussed on the building demolishing action.
Essentially there are three types of stages in this game, these include the main nuke carrier levels, bonus stages and racing areas. The carrier stages entail clear a path for you nuke carrier, bonus stages involve having to destroy buildings within a time limit and the racing involves a time trial run around a designated track.
The carrier stages form the main meat of the game, and you begin with three of these that can be played in any order you wish. Once you complete a carrier stage new stages are made available to you on the level selection globe.
While you would think a game where you go around smashing up buildings with the odd bonus stage may get boring after a while the game presents enough variation in it's stages and the vehicles which help keeps a game with a relatively simple premise interesting throughout. Each vehicle is unique and has an entirely different control to learn and master. One particularly cool feature is that you have the ability to leave a vehicle at any time and enter into a new vehicle you may find laying around and use that instead. Either previous owners of these vehicles left their keys in the ignition in their rush to escape the incoming nuke truck or the character you play is an expert in hot-wiring. But in any case if see a vehicle you can use it this even includes trains, boats and cranes.
The sheer variety of vehicles and the different ways they can be used to complete the stages adds a good degree of variety and replayabity to what otherwise could have been a somewhat repetitive game. Not all levels are just about smashing stuff either many stages contain puzzle elements that require a little bit of use of the grey matter. So all in all this game is very nicely put together game with plenty of variety thrown in to avoid it becoming monotonous.
At the end of each stage you can earn bronze, silver or gold medals and trophies these are earned depending the time in which it takes you to complete a stage. This gives you some incentive to replay previously completed stages in order to beat your own record. So this is a game that potentially can keep you coming back for years to come, if action/arcade style games like are your cup of tea that is you won't be playing this for there is no real plot or characterisation or witty dialogue.
In order help add even more interest to the game each stage is littered with various secret items that can be uncovered by smashing certain buildings, not always located on the carriers route. You will find satellites, hidden scientists, vehicles and new areas to unlock. This gives you an added incentive to smash everything in sight. But it's often better to go after the bonus stuff after the essential business of clearing the route for the carrier is cleared. If the carrier explodes you will lose your bonus items and have to start over. Among the secret bonus stages that can be unlocked you will find stages based on such things as pool tables and Pac-Man which adds a quirky innovative touch to what was already something of a quirky innovative game.
Ok to be fair the graphics aren't really the highpoint of this game but this is don't forget one of Rares very first games for the system. The robots and the vehicles are fairly smooth as well as all the cities and landscapes, however there are still plenty of rigid edges also know as jaggies and the detail is fairly sparse and textures a little blurred. But the graphics are clear, functional and do their job, they don't detract from the core gameplay at all.
However the graphics do deserve credit when it comes to the explosions which look spectacular and there is no fogging in this game, everything can be seen in full view.
Another good aspect to mention is the visual damage you can inflict on the buildings which is represented in great detail, you can see every crack and chip your blows make which adds to the satisfaction of the destruction wrought.
So the graphics may not be outstanding but they more than get the job done, much like the plot, and there are some neat graphical effects on show.
Rare are somewhat renowned for the musical scores and here we have yet another excellent of their work. Well ok so it make not be the finest music they ever produced but it is still nonetheless a good solid effort and can stand up to most other N64 games in terms of quality. The music comprises of a catchy selection of techno and off beat tracks that you can happily hum along to and it also captures the tongue and cheek destructive spirit of the game.
The sound effects are solid enough, the explosions sound like explosions, crumbling buildings sound like crumbling buildings, mecha suits sound like mecha suits and so on. There is a little bit of voice acting to heard in the game, the phrases you will hear most often are "Try something else" and "Get it outta the way or something!". It can grate on your nerves after while but it's always good to have some good quality voice acting in an N64 game.
This is one of the better games to play if you're interested in something with replay potential, as you're likely to unlock all the medals, trophies, stages and secrets in your first play through. Stages can also be completed with different vehicles in a number of different ways. The main mission itself also takes some hours to complete and you can always go back to stages you have completed in order to beat your own time. In order to get the most out of title you need to be the kind of gamer who enjoys bettering their own scores in arcade style games. Gamers who just want a straightforward adventure with a story and a clear end objective may find themselves losing interest as the basic premise of this game when all is said and done is to smash buildings.
Blast Corps is a unique game and perhaps something of an acquired taste but once hooked it offers a fun and innovative gaming experience of which there is nothing else quite like it. It may not be quite one of the all time classics that graced the N64 but it is nonetheless something of a sleeper hit and well worth checking out as it is one of the under appreciated hidden gems of the N64. It deserves points for it's sheer originality and novelty value alone, something many games often lack in this current era.