ONE MUST FALL: 2097 by Epic MegaGames

Reviewed by Hank Leukart

Also Reviewed by Gerry Kaufhold
          Computer        Graphics        Memory          Disk Space
Minimum   386             320x200x256     2.5mb           5.9mb (shareware)
Max/Rec.  486/33                          4mb             8mb (registered)

Control:  Keyboard, Joystick, and Gravis GamePad.
  Sound:  Sound Blaster or Sound Blaster 16, Gravis UltraSound, or
          Pro Audio Spectrum.
  Notes:  A dual-joystick splitter and two Gravis GamePads are useful 
          for two-player mode.

        Reviewed on: 386/40 and 486/33, 16mb RAM, Sound Blaster v2.0,
                     two Gravis GamePads, and Gravis UltraSound card.
Reviewer recommends: A stereo soundcard, a dual-joystick splitter, two 
                     Gravis GamePads, and four six thousand watt
                     speakers. :)

If you like metal bashin', spark flashin', steel crashin', and robot smashin', combined with fast action, a spectacular soundtrack, 3-D sound, and visual effects to drool for, this game is for you. When I was told that ONE MUST FALL: 2097 (herein known as OMF) would be a great game, I had no idea how much of an understatement that was--and I do not even like fighting games all that much!

The best part of OMF is, no doubt, the action. Start up a one-player game, choose your pilot and a robot, and you are thrust right into a virtual arena with another huge robot. Each robot has at least four or five "secret" moves, as well as punch, kick, block, jump, and super jump. On my 386/40 with most of the special effects turned off, I was able to achieve a more than playable speed. On my 486/33, I left all the special effects on, and STILL had to lower the speed setting to my liking! The robots move, jump, smash, and bash faster than SANGO FIGHTER, BODY BLOWS, and MORTAL KOMBAT PC.

In my opinion, Epic's universal trademark is their music and sound effects. I can be a mile a way from a computer rockin' with Josh Jensen's MASI sound system and can tell you if it's the Android table or the second mission of JAZZ JACKRABBIT. :) OMF is no exception. In preparation for the game, I cranked up my GUS's amplifier to 9, positioned all four speakers at their perfect places and let her rip. Before I knew it, the room was being bombarded with huge lightining streaks, in 3-D sound. WOW! The music then started up with great bass, great rock, and great music! During fights, the sounds are perfect. Epic must have rounded up a few hundred pieces of scrap metal for this! I love the crashing of the metal and the lightning effects. On one particularly awesome move, I threw my opponent into the side of the screen, triggering a huge burst of thunder and electricity. I freaked as I heard one of my speakers fall off its stand. As with other Epic games, I enjoy playing the music even when the game is not running. Because the music is digitized, even Sound Blaster v2.0 users will hear a decent soundtrack. The only minor sound problem I encountered is that once in awhile, the music will get "stuck" on my Sound Blaster for a second. This problem was addressed in the manual, but their solution did not seem to work.

They obviously spent a lot of time on the music and sound effects, but they definitely did not slack off when it came to the graphics and visual effects. All of the robots are large sprites and are very 3-D looking. They are beautifully rendered, beautifully shaded, and beautifully drawn. It is unfortunate that Epic did not choose to use a higher resolution, though. I would have loved to see this game with the graphics of the RISE OF THE ROBOTS demo, but with OMF's action! Their animation is flawless on faster computers and I only see a small amount of slowdown on my 386. One of my favorite graphic "features" in the game is the way robots tend to lose pieces of their torso as they are damaged. Nuts, bolts, and metal plates clash to the ground after particularly hard crashes. It is too bad Epic did not take this a step further and change the robot sprites themselves, making them look damaged. I also wish the parts that fall to the ground did not "dissolve" after a few seconds. Other visual effects include the shaking of the screen when someone is thrown against the side, lightning, and electric sparks when a robot is hit. The arena backgrounds are very good looking, although they are not quite as detailed as Mortal Kombat's were.

The controls are very responsive, especially if you use a Gravis GamePad. Most of the moves are fairly easy to perform and will appeal to the non-fighter types like me. I was disappointed that all four buttons of the Gravis GamePad were not taken advantage of in at least the one player mode.

The game includes three modes: one player mode, two player mode, and a tournament mode. In the one player mode and tournament mode, experienced players can choose harder difficulties, while new players can use an easier setting. In the two player mode, it is possible to handicap either of the players to create more of a fair fight. The one and two player modes are pretty much self-explanatory. The object is to destroy the other robot, in one round, two out of three rounds, three out of five rounds, or four out of seven rounds. In the shareware version, the player is supplied with one arena, but four more are shipped with the registered version. The tournament mode is almost another game altogether. You begin with a boring, standard robot. As the tournament progresses, you destroy more robots and make more money, allowing you to upgrade your robot and eventually make a super robot. One tournament is included in the shareware version and four more are included in the registered version. The only thing I was extremely disappointed with was the fact that no modem play was implemented. I know Epic said that the game would have been delayed even more if they had put it in, but it would have been worth it.

OMF is not low on features either. One of my favorite things about the game is that after a fight, an announcer is shown. He talks about your fight and even shows screen shots of some of the more exciting moments in YOUR PERSONAL fight. This is very cool! Sometimes he will even zoom in on a particular kick or move. Before and after fights, workers are shown repairing your robot. Of course, these kind of things do not make a game, but they certainly add to the "coolness" factor! The game has a lot of options, including the ability to turn on or off any visual effects you want, slow down or speed up the game, handicap players, play in "Hyper Mode," and change the amount of rounds that it takes to win.

In conclusion, One Must Fall: 2097 destroys all other shareware fighting games to date and easily competes with commercial ones. The visual effects are unmatched, the sound makes speakers fall off their stands, and action is at its peak. Its only drawbacks are the lack of modem play and that Epic did not use some of their features to their full potential! (i.e. The use of the Gravis GamePad, robot damage, high resolution graphics) If Epic continues to release games like this (and they already seem to be on a roll), they are going to have little competition!

This review is Copyright (C) 1994 by Hank Leukart for Game Bytes Magazine. All rights reserved.