Ashen Review

Developer: Torus Publisher: Nokia
Release Date: May 25, 2004 Also On: None

First person shooting has never been this good on a handheld platform. The Zodiac tried it with Daedalus 3D with a mediocre end result. Nokia’s Ashen proves that quality FPS gaming can in fact be developed for handheld devices and ultimately reach a mass audience through mainstream advertising.

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Ashen is a fast-paced FPS based in a horror-filled town, ridden with supernatural creatures. They actually look a lot like aliens, one of which looks oddly like Abe from Abe’s Odyssey. Anyway, you are in a town, searching for a girl named Vanessa. The town is Seven River City, which has evidently plunged into chaos and destruction. Playing as Jacob Ward, you will have to overcome the obstacles ahead of you.

Ashen has a large quantity of weaponry to choose from especially for a handheld title. You have a pistol, dual pistol, gattling gun, machine gun, pulse gun, shotgun, and more. Ammo is littered throughout the game’s eight levels, along with light, medium, and heavy armor.

The directional pad controls Jacob’s movement. You can move him forward and backwards, and turn, but there are no in-betweens, like in most console First Person Shooters. Strafe left with 4 and strafe right with 6. The fire button is 5, while the jump button is 7.

The control setup feels natural, but it does take getting used to in order to memorize the different buttons. The shoot and strafe buttons are so close to the switch weapons button that you may accidentally toggle between them while in a gun battle.

The game’s storyline will unfold through journals and cut scenes, which really do not display any movement at all, so they really are not true cut scenes, in any sense of the word. The enemy models are pixilated, black, and have a tint of yellow for what look like spots more than anything. The environments are all expansive, with relative detail, but the overall up-close feel is grainy.

Speaking of enemy models, there are nice amounts available in Ashen. We have spider creatures, Hunters (think Elites from Halo), Wraiths (invisible and require goggles to see), Brood Maws (suicide bombers), and more.

One of the most important aspects of the game is the lighting. If you can not see what is taking place in front of you, there is no need to play at all. I recommend tilting the unit upwards since tilting it down darkens and blurs the screen.

Ashen’s length is limited to the single-player’s eight missions. Each level should take a relatively decent amount of time, along with possible retries. I would say that Ashen will take anywhere from five to ten hours, single-player, with the possibility for four-way multi-player via Bluetooth. For me, the single-player game was alone worth the long wait for the QDs release, but for those lucky enough to have N-Gage friends, you should be busy playing Ashen for months to come.

Graphics: 9.5
Sound: 7.5
Gameplay: 9.5
Creativity: 6
Replay Value/Game Length: 8.5
Final: 8.5
Written by Kyle Review Guide

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