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In Memory
Sean Pettibone

Archive Review: Cyber Sled (Playstation)

Namco has  built a reputation for bringing great arcade games home to the Playstation. Whether itís Ridge Racer, Air Combat or Tekken, these translations are usually almost perfect replicas of the arcade machine. Cyber Sled continues in that series. The arcade game had a fairly simple, though timeless premise. Two vehicles are placed inside a ring with obstacles.. The main object of Cyber Sled  to find and destroy the other tank in the arena before it destroys YOU. You keep playing until you defeat each of the enemy tanks or you are destroyed. There are powerups and weapons loads scattered throughout the arena. You can choose from one of 8 tanks, each with itís own strengths and weaknesses.. selecting a  tank that is well balanced in Speed, Armor and Weapons is your best choice, playing as an unbalanced tank  are left vulnerable to attack much too easily. These should be left until you become more familiar with the opponents in the game and are able to use the tankís strengths in one area and compensate. for itís weaknesses. 

The game takes place in either a behind the tank or cockpit view. Too add a bit of role-playing to the home version, Namco has added several characters to drive each tank. Each level is fairly simple  and thereís a quick animation of your opponent in action, which reveals their tactics and maneuvers. While itís not the most innovative title to come along. Cyber Sled rode  a long tradition of one on one battles  and Namcoís knack for solid, entertaining gameplay to success in the arcades a few years back. It was highly addicting and the action can get pretty intense during is short rounds of play ( matches seldom last for more than a minute). The controls in the game are excellent, moving is smooth and easy to accomplish in the game. Firing and shooting bombs are also intuitive. The controls are easy to learn and make the game more fun,  though turning the bulky tanks is a bit slower than would be optimal.  The graphics are also great. You can choose from either original graphics (which ape the arcadeís simpler non-mapped polys) or the realistic mode (where everything is bitmapped)  In both modes,  the polygons while a bit large and blocky, are fast enough to get the job done.  This is a good translation, graphicwise but it was disappointing to see so much pop-up in the game. The sounds are fairly good, with appropriate explosions and shooing sounds.  

The music is very good, typical Namco-style light techno video game music. Cyber Sled also features a perfect sample  the announcerís  voice. Unfortunately, while Cyber Sled has the perfect balance for an arcade machine, on the home screen it loses itís best features in the translation. The game is fairly simple and fun, but lacks a crucial element for the home : depth. The lightning fast rounds were perfect for the arcade but fall flat here. Leaving the player thirsting for more. Cyber Sledís rounds are over far too quickly. There can be no doubt about it, Cyber Sled is much more exciting when your going against another human player. The computer controlled tanks lack the danger and unpredictability that made the original so much fun. Playing Cyber Sled on a Playstation is very empty in comparison. This was a game  meant to be played with two players simultaneously. 

Unfortunately, the execution of the two player option is so poor as to render this option  unplayable by most gamers. Instead of using the linking abilities of the Playstation, which require two Playstations and two monitors, Namco opted instead for a mode where two can play using one Playstation with two controllers. This isnít a happy medium since the compromise which had to be made to accomplish this is sadly lacking.  The screen is split horizontally making  each player lose crucial peripheral vision. The fact that the layout in this mode is cluttered and confusing seals the fate of this mode. Itís truly awful. This is obviously a major disappointment, since Cyber Sled was  in my opinion, one of the best two-player non-fighting games made this decade.  Fortunately, the full screen execution of the solo-mode is far superior, the screens arenít as cluttered, and you can actually see where you are going. making for a game that is fairly enjoyable for players. The only major problem aside from those described above is the load time between rounds, which can get annoying after  awhile.  Overall, Cyber Sled is a very disappointing arcade translation.  It doesnít come close to the arcade gameís excitement and fun, but it is a decent playable game. This is Namcoís weakest title in itís otherwise stellar Playstation lineup.

Gameplay  6 /10
Control   6/10
Graphics  6/10
Sound/Music  6/10
Innovation   5/10
Overall  6/10



> Originally appeared in "The Laser" #15 - May 1996

By Michael Palisano