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Cover art for the Windows 95 version
Shockwave Assault, also released as Shock Wave, is a science fiction flight combat shooting game for the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer, PlayStation, Sega Saturn, PC and the Macintosh. The player takes on control of a futuristic plane to defeat many extraterrestrial ships and tripods. The plane's main weapons are lasers and rockets. The game includes two discs. The first disc takes place on earth where the player must liberate the planet from the alien invaders. The second disc takes place on Mars. The game received a 3DO-exclusive sequel, Shockwave 2: Beyond the Gate.
The year is 2019 and the alien invasion is here. In a surprise attack, the aliens decimate Earth's military forces. Mankind's only hope is the surviving orbital space carrier Omaha and its squadron of F-177 pilots. As the young and unexperienced member of the squadron, it is the protagonist's job to drive the aliens from the planet.
Most of Shockwave Assault takes place in the cockpit of a F-177 fighter. The fighter is armed with a rapid fire laser which consumes energy and a limited number of homing missiles. The ship automatically levels off when it stops turning. The thrusters consume fuel, but give the ship a useful burst of speed. The shield is depleted as the ship runs into things or is hit by enemy fire. Each of these resources can be replenished by flying under the refueling drones that are located at fixed locations in each mission. The ship automatically hovers over the terrain, making it impossible to crash.
The player must fight through 15 missions (10 in the 3DO version), each with a boss at the end. The levels take place at various places around the Earth, and the terrain is modeled appropriately (Egypt has desert terrain, Peru has jungles, etc.). At the start of each mission the player is briefed on what to expect, and throughout the level, the onboard computer gives additional information that changes depending on the player's performance.
Ports and sequels
The game received an expansion, Shock Wave: Operation JumpGate, on the 3DO. All later versions of the game (Windows, Mac OS, Apple Pippin, PlayStation, and Saturn) included the original content and the expansion pack in the same release. It also received a 3DO-exclusive sequel, Shockwave 2: Beyond the Gate published by Electronic Arts. Publishing rights for the sequel were later sold to Aztech New Media Corp. and a Macintosh port made in 1996 but not released due to low sales for the 3DO version was released in 1998 as part of their Mac Pack Blitz compilation.
The Windows version was the first Electronic Arts game specifically designed to utilize the enhancements of the Windows 95 operating system. Project director Phillippe Tarbouriech explained, "Many of the 3D effects in Shockwave Assault would not have been possible under MS-DOS or Windows 3.1. In addition, Win 95 allows the PC to play streaming video for the first time."
The original 3DO release received mixed reviews. The four reviewers of Electronic Gaming Monthly criticized the over-sensitive controls but praised the texture-mapped graphics and off-rails gameplay. They made particular note of the game's use of full motion video, saying that in sharp contrast to previous FMV-heavy games, the quality was sharp, the acting was good, and the overall use of FMV was "more of an addition to the game instead of the whole emphasis." Atomic Dawg of GamePro was more critical, stating that FMVs would preempt the HUD display even in situations where the radar is needed, and the inability to alter altitude makes it feel "like you're flying in a box." However, he agreed that the texture-mapped graphics and FMV cutscenes are impressive, and concluded, "Shock Wave's tough adversaries and first-rate graphics make it a decent 3DO shooter."
GamePro's Tommy Glide praised the game's length and the PlayStation version's new and improved animations, summarizing it as "one very cool shooter". A Next Generation critic said that while it runs noticeably smoother than the 3DO original and has the added bonus of the Operation Jumpgate expansion, "it's still pretty boring, at least right up until the point where it becomes utterly too difficult to get any farther." He elaborated that despite the 15 levels using different textures and theoretically being based on aerial photographs, they all look and play much the same. He did, however, praise the way the game runs full motion video alongside real time gameplay. A review of the Macintosh version in the same issue made the same criticisms about the sameness of the levels and none of the same praises, summarizing the game as "the perfect title for those who don't mind brainless action patterns over and over." Despite this, it was given a higher score than the PlayStation version.
Unlike the earlier releases, the Saturn version received resoundingly negative reviews. The four reviewers of Electronic Gaming Monthly praised the storyline, full motion video, and lengthy content, but said the gameplay is repetitive and frustrating, since the limited controls make it unfairly difficult to avoid taking hits. Sega Saturn Magazine's Rob Bright agreed that though each level has different objectives, the gameplay nonetheless boils down to repetitive wandering and simplistic firefights. He also argued that the storyline is simplistic, and the full motion video sequences which deliver it are "hugely naff".
- "Good as Goldstar". GamePro (67). IDG. February 1995. p. 144.
- "Shockwave Assault: Aliens Invade the Saturn". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 85. Ziff Davis. August 1996. p. 68.
- Conway, Chris (2 November 1998). "Chris Conway - Senior Software Engineer at Electronic Arts". Roger Johnstone. Retrieved 6 June 2016.
- "Shockwave 2 and Shockwave Assault". Next Generation. Imagine Media (11): 104–5. November 1995.
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- "Review Crew: Shockwave Assault". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 85. Ziff Davis. August 1996. p. 23.
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- Bright, Rob (July 1996). "Review: Shockwave Assault". Sega Saturn Magazine. No. 9. Emap International Limited. pp. 66–67.
- "ProReview: Shock Wave Invasion Earth: 2019". GamePro. No. 62. IDG. September 1994. p. 102.
- "ProReview: Shockwave Assault". GamePro. No. 90. IDG. March 1996. p. 52.