Set in a post-apocalyptic world where aliens and their cyborgs are set on enslaving humanity and harvesting Earth's Carbon (or C-12), this title puts players in the shoes of a lone resistance fighter. Your mission is to defeat the aliens and their mutant robotic armies before it's too late. Fortunately, you have some cybernetic enhancements of your own, including a laser-guided eye and a plasma sword which you can use to defeat enemies. It's a standard third-person action fighter where you explore the levels, obliterating enemies while looking for power-ups and other items that may aid you in your mission. The game's set-up is nicely done and is enhanced through some deep expository cinematic scenes which immerse you in the action. C-12 displays a lot more thought and design essentials than one would expect in this late stage of the console's life.
C-12 gives the player a lot to keep track of, but fortunately the controls are up to the task. The main character's movement is well-done and easy to understand. While the camera movements are a tad jerky, they still allow you to get a good viewpoint for most of the game. The interface allows you to switch between weapons and other special items quickly. The game offers several weapons which you can collect from fallen foes including machine guns, grenade and rocket launchers, plasma cannons and more. Each of these has a limited amount of ammo so you must conserve these. Using the weapons is very easy to understand, making your character quite an effective adversary. You can also use a shield which can protect you from enemy fire and missiles, which like the other elements, also has a limited amount of energy.
One other piece of weaponry at your disposal is the alien imagery system that's been installed and implemented in your left eye. This allows you to scan the environment and zoom in, using the left analog stick. When this is enabled, a cool special effect turns the screen into a cool green LCD mode and allows you to target enemies in first-person mode quickly and accurately. The levels are designed to offer a mix of exploration, puzzle solving and action. While a lot of the puzzles involve moving crates and hitting switches, and using ID cards, there are some more interesting and challenging sequences as well.
The forces you face are quite intimidating, but can be beaten easily once you understand their tactics and methods. Initially, the levels are populated with generic Cyborgs which aren't that intelligent and don't offer much resistance, but make good target practice. Later on, smarterand deadlier alien robots and warriors will force you to use more skill. There are very dangerous aliens such as Scientists and Rhinos that begin to appear who won't go down easy at all. The mix and variety of adversaries makes the game much harder than the early levels, so don't get smug if you blow through the first few areas with nary a scratch.
The biggest problem that will face players in C-12 are the puzzles which can be overly difficult in spots, causing the game to stand still. There's too much wandering around aimlessly looking for that small item you missed, and also a lot of retracing of steps in order to complete some of the levels. However, this is an important element that gives C-12 more balance between these elements and is somewhat bearable because the puzzles become more intuitive once you figure out the conventions. Fighting with the enemies is a bit simpler than in other games, and most standard foes only need a few shots to beat. However, there are some intense battle with boss characters, which while needing to be more difficult, can still be incredibly frustrating.
It wouldn't be fair to judge C-12 against titles for the newer consoles, since the PS1 simply can't compete. Still, there are some problems that are glaring, even given the hardware limitations. First, the game's textures seem a little bit dull and washed out, while the overall look of the game is kind of bland. The engine seems a little dated by PS1 standards and the old, annoying seams and shakiness of the environments can become incredibly distracting. On the good side, the overall design in C-12 is above-average, with a cool post-apocalyptic feel. The Cyborgs look cool and the extensive cinemas help to keep the story moving. Decent voice-overs and acting also help to immerse the player into the action, though not without a few lame attempts at drama.
Overall, this is a surprisingly good title that should
appeal to the action-adventure fan. It's got a good mixture of puzzles and
action, plus a decent, adult-oriented storyline. The battle for earth may be a
cliché that's been done to death, but in its context, it's nicely done. While
the PS1 has been over-run by kiddie and throwaway titles as it becomes a
mass-market machine, C-12 is an above average title that proves there's still
some life left in the old Playstation yet.
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