LGR – Forsaken: Six Degrees of Late ’90s FPS Freedom


I hope you’re ready for something excessively
late ‘90s today. This is Acclaim’s “Forsaken” released in 1998 for Windows PCs, Sony PlayStation,and Nintendo 64. And this box art is… well it’s an interesting choice. See, Forsaken is a first-person shooter where you pilot weapon-laden hoverbikes with six degrees of
freedom through dark sci-fi environments. Not exactly what I’m getting from this artwork
featuring bikini model Donna DeCianni. And it’s only North America that was graced
with this packaging, with territories like the UK, Europe, and Australia getting this
still-vague but arguably more fitting box art instead. However, it certainly did its
job of grabbing my attention in ‘98. I mean, I was just hitting puberty at the time, of
course I noticed. Even more so with the infamous ads found in just about every gaming magazine
back then, some more suggestive than others, with 80% sexy implications, 20% actual gameplay
info. And I would’ve liked to have known a little more about the game because it turns
out that it was made by Probe Entertainment Limited out of Croydon, England. They were
a developer I always seemed to enjoy back then, whether it was for their work porting
arcade games like Primal Rage, or developing video games like Extreme-G and Die Hard Trilogy.
In particular though I’m most fond of their game Re-Volt, which around a half-dozen Probe
team members ended up moving onto work on after finishing Forsaken. By that point they’d
been acquired by Acclaim and renamed Acclaim Studios London, but either way, same folks. Time for a closer look at Forsaken though,
starting by unboxing this brand still sealed copy of the game I bought specifically for
this video and… uh… where’s the game? Heh. Yeah I got friggin’ ripped off, everything
was in here but the game itself. Oh well we can take care of that. All fixed. So, other than an invisible CD-ROM, you also get an Acclaim registration card to register for
support for the game you didn’t get. As well as a Forsaken calendar, featuring plenty
more sultry photos of the Forsaken gal, who in case you’re wondering doesn’t appear
as a character in the game or anything, she’s just a mascot of sorts. Oh hey, Shadow Man,
I forgot about that being a thing. And lastly you also get a 21-page instruction manual
that, while appearing only in black and white, is packed with plenty of prose published for
your perusal. After some rather fluid logo animations for
the publisher and developer, you’re presented with an action-heavy intro movie laying out
the post-apocalyptic story. [Narrator] “In a world where science had stepped beyond the realms of humanity” “and the search for higher learning had broken all known limits…” “A sub-atomic experiment gone wrong caused an uncontrollable fusion reaction!” [LGR] It’s a tale as old as time: people do science, science goes boom, Earth explodes and is turned into an uninhabited wasteland. But there’s a
lotta scrap left on the surface, namely gold, and it’s your job to go in and grab as much
as you can with getting killed by the government’s leftover robot sentinels. Naturally, the best
way to do this is on flying bikes while listening to late ‘90s drum and bass. [drum and bass music of a late ’90s variety plays,
hoverbikes hovering along] After this you’ll reach the main menu where
you can perform all the main menu things you’d expect, like peruse the options and become
slowly overwhelmed with green text. There’s a lot going on here, especially in regards
to things like graphical options and input customization. Being that this is a Descent-like
6DoF shooter, the controls are quite the hurdle straight away, with multiple pages of input
options to choose from. After you’re done studying it’s off to the gameplay, starting
with difficulty selection ranging from Easy to Total Mayhem. You can also choose the AI
voice for your computer and your biker from an assortment of attitude-driven archetypes. “Fear! The! Badge!” “Hey man, you’re in my space!” “…this is beard.” Oh look it’s me circa 2012. Finally, it’s onto the campaign and yeah man. Bask in the
pure late ‘90s of it. [bombastic shooty stuff happens, soundtrack blaring] So, if you’re only familiar with the console
versions this is quite the spectacle indeed. Forsaken on PS1 is rather similar to the PC
game at least, with the same levels and similar menus, although it’s expectedly not nearly
as advanced in terms of graphical tech. But Forsaken 64 is another beast entirely. As
the name implies, this is one of those cases where the Nintendo version is effectively
a separate, standalone experience, having been developed by a different team and boasting
its own unique set of levels and features. So yeah, for this video we’re looking at
the 3D-accelerated PC version of Forsaken, because it’s awesome. The console versions
may be more remembered for nailing 360º first-person gameplay on those systems, but the Windows
version was briefly a noteworthy title in the PC gaming space due to its benchmarking
potential. A number of outlets used Forsaken gameplay to push the latest GPUs and CPUs
to their limit, sometimes referring to the test as ForsakenMark. Yep, it was not uncommon
to see Forsaken right alongside things like Quake II and Photoshop when testing Pentium
II CPUs and Voodoo graphics cards. It was enough of a selling point that companies like
Matrox specifically bragged about how their cards could run Forsaken at over 100 frames
per second. And indeed, Forsaken on a capable PC of the time is a pleasing ordeal. Higher
frame rates, resolutions, and particle effects than anything offered on consoles of the time,
with a generous display of multi-colored lighting dazzling the senses at every turn. And you
will be turning quite a lot in Forsaken, being that it boasts some of the twistiest, geometrically
complicated level designs of its day. Much like the Descent games that it unapologetically
apes, Forsaken is all about navigating metallic corridors in search of enemies to blast, secrets
to uncover, power-ups to power up with, key cards to unlock passageways, and finally an
exit before proceeding to the next mind-bending labyrinth. There are 16 levels overall in
single player mode, each of them taking anywhere from five to thirty minutes to complete, and
that range in completion time largely depends on how you handle this style of 360º first-person
exploration. Keep in mind there’s no automap or navigation aids on offer, so it really
is up to you and your own head-mapping to make it through. At the same time though,
I still never found myself truly lost, with most levels being cleverly divided up into
distinct sections with their own objectives presented in a rather linear form. Every so
often you’ll get some text popping up on your HUD to let you know what’s up, and
as long as you pay attention it stays pretty obvious as to where to go next. The puzzles
themselves are nothing too advanced either, largely consisting of prototypical FPS conundrums
like switches that need switching, systems that need enabling or disabling, and locked
passageways requiring keys or some other credentials. Occasionally there’s a time limit or an
explosion about to go off so you’re rushed to find a solution, but even those few moments
are pretty straightforward and never felt unfair to me. The single biggest challenge,
of course, is surviving craploads of AI baddies that very much follow the Doom philosophy
of play. That is, you enter a room, there are a bunch of things that want to kill you,
so they swarm from every direction firing maniacally. And then in seemingly empty rooms
there are going to be tons more enemies waiting to spawn in once you trigger them by picking
up a thing or entering the area. The variety in enemy types is a bit of a letdown, although
not out of character for this era of FPS, with the same basic sentinels, tanks, turrets,
and floating mines appearing throughout the campaign. They can at least apply some decent
tactics in terms of dodging, and the projectiles move at just the right speed to keep track
of, helping to keep you in that gameplay sweet spot between overwhelmed and fully in control.
The rear-view and weapon-view windows you can toggle certainly help quite a bit in sticky
situations as well. And it pays to stay thoroughly on top of your surroundings to find secrets,
containing everything from more exotic pickups and weapons like nitro, golden power pods,
and a flamethrower, to hidden crystals which can be collected to reach a secret level at
the end of the game. There are also a few moments where you’ll come into a boss battle
of sorts, taking the form of a one-off larger enemy AI, or even one of the other bikers
you can choose from. Regardless though, the goal remains the same: shoot everything and
collect all the loot until you find the exit. And of course, you get a screen at the end
of each map indicating the number of bots you killed and how many collectibles you acquired.
All this to say there’s particularly distinctive here, but if you’re a fan of straightforward,
retro FPS design and don’t mind a bit of navigational tomfoolery, you can’t really
go wrong with the gameplay in Forsaken. Because augh, as predictable as the combat
can get, there’s a notable “oomph” to the gameplay, a certain punchy feeling to
every slice of the action. The enemies being robotic certainly helps. I don’t know, there’s
a special kind of innate satisfaction that results from shooting metal with more metal.
Bullets versus silicon, explosives versus armor plating, it’s inherently raw and dangerous
and I love it. Certainly helps to have a weapons loadout as immediately satisfying as you get
in Forsaken, with not a single weapon feeling underpowered. At least, not for very long.
The way this works is very much like a traditional shoot-em-up game, with primary and secondary
weapons that will be discovered and picked up on each level. What you find doesn’t
carry over into the next level, so each instance rediscovering a certain favorite like the
beam laser or the pyrolite is exciting. And the secondary support weapons like rockets,
bombs, and mines all admirably perform their role of being a show-stopper whenever things
get too hot to handle otherwise. Continuing in the shooter vein are the power pods which
increase the overall strength of your primaries, and holy crap this is the kind of over the
top nonsense I look for in a shooter. Fully-powered transpulse and sussgun fire is pandemonious
bliss, helped in no small part by the deeply satisfying sound effects that go along with them. [meaty sussgun firing sounds, exposions] Pairing forsaken with tinny speakers or cheap headphones would be a crying shame.
Not only for the bombastic sound effects, but the energy-infused soundtrack by Stephen
Root and Dominic Glynn, two of the same composers as Acclaim’s Re-Volt and Extreme-G series. [late ’90s banger of a tune plays] While the Redbook audio soundtrack can be played in a CD player as-is, a selection of
its tracks with several remixes got its own release under the title, “Forsaken: The
Music by The Swarm” through No Bones Records. And yeah, if you dig this particular era of
UK breakbeat, drum ‘n’ bass, house, and IDM, it’s well worth seeking out. By this point, you might think I’d completely
recommend seeking out the game in general too. And yeah I mean, pretty much. Odd marketing
aside, there’s a reason that it’s remembered and received continued attention and several
well-made updates to keep it playable over the years. Things like the impressive ForsakenX
source port that lets you play the game on modern versions of Windows, Mac OS, and Linux,
alongside plenty of engine updates and bug fixes. Then there’s Forsaken Remastered,
introduced in 2018 by Nightdive Studios. It not only provides a fresh version of the game
that can be purchased on PC distribution platforms like Steam and GOG, but also ports the game
to Xbox One for the first time. And hopefully that means there will be a bit of an audience
for multiplayer once again because yeah, that is just delightfully bonkers. It’s the usual
assortment of deathmatch, team deathmatch, capture the flag modes, and loot-collecting
game types, but with that chaotic concoction of Forsaken action and speed that continues
to appeal. At least, it does to me, being an unwavering sap for just about any late
‘90s FPS with gratuitous colored lighting and shooting action of a certain speed. So
if this looks like an appealing kind of mindless nonsense, you would be remiss to forsake Forsaken. [character screams, explodes] And if you dug what you just saw then awesome!
Perhaps you’d like to see some of my other videos, or subscribe to get new ones every
week. Regardless though, thank you very much for watching!

100 thoughts on “LGR – Forsaken: Six Degrees of Late ’90s FPS Freedom

  • Didn't mention it in the video because I'm bad at marketing, ha.
    But yeah, if you feel compelled to grab a copy of Forsaken Remastered on GOG, you can use this affiliate link to help support LGR!
    https://www.gog.com/game/forsaken?pp=fa33988727d7f572be002b845e65858e68bb92e9

  • suddenly i noticed on your Re-Volt game review back from 2012 @ 4:49 on the far right when choosing tracks, there's a bin of Forsaken copies being sold at 75% off LOL

  • No joke but I know probably half the people who worked on this game and many other Probe games. I actually wind my friend up about this every time I see it in the shop because they did not have a good time port this to the N64.

  • I had this on the PlayStation it used to be my dad's when the PlayStation was his before I was born never sawll the box art though it was in a generic case

  • I totally missed this since that Australian guy released a review of this so I just saw the thumbnail and thought "Oh ya I watched that"

  • So im scrolling through the xbox store while watching this and came across forsaken remastered which i didn't know existed…

  • Phew.. back in the day I had to get used to Descent in order not to get sick while playing it and now… only watching this makes my head spin (a bit). Playing Descent again instantly gives me cold hands and an upset stomach… guess I have to train more. 😉

  • 5:38
    that matrox ad is the most 90's thing in the video
    Play jedi knight at 1280×1024 resolution
    Get vibrant color quality for Quake II
    Smooth everything over with per-pixel Trilinear filtering
    Brag about your full AGP 2X performance

  • As gorgeous as this was on PC, it was also TRULY AWESOME on Playstation (at the time nothing else came close). I remember walking to K-Mart and seeing this and another new game (called Gran Turismo) both hit the shelves the same day in our town. That was a GREAT WEEKEND!

  • Didn't you know that sweaty girl in the ad campaign is Mother Earth? It's the namesake of the game and the reason why she has the forsaken tattoo- Mother Earth has been … Forsaken Not even kidding. Okay edit- yeah, the TAGLINE is the future is forsaken but there was either something in the booklet or somewhere there is definitely supporting evidence the girl is symbolize Earth

  • I loved this game as a kid. I got a high adrenaline rush from it.
    I can't wait to play it on my retro pc that I rebuilded, if I finally find the time to install Windows 98 and all drivers.

  • Speaking of the 2012 beard, where did it go? Did it grow sentient, invented a space ship, and flew off into outer space to create its own beard colony?

  • Such a usable game…

    A friends computer tended crash when he played Forsaken. He wasn't really the most technically inclined person, so he called on his friends to help him. So we were a couple of guys who pulled his machine appart and checked it out. Turned out it overheated because he was breeding dust bunnies in the CPU heatsink. Once we've euthanised the dust bunnies I installed a heat monitoring utility and configured it to warn by playing some audio files. These were files we pulled from the Forsaken CD. The first warning was just something about the heat being on or something like that. When it got seriously hot it played a file used when one of the opponents dies. As I remember he screamed "I hate you!" as his thingus went up in flames, and the CPU monitor would play this over and over until either the CPU hit critical heat or it cooled down. To make sure my friend wouldn't miss it I ran that through an audio editor, raising the volume as high as possible without clipping. Finally when the CPU temperature got to critical levels it screamed "Game over man. Game over…" and I think it shut down the machine, though I'm not entirely sure about that.

    Naturally we didn't tell him about this monitor program, or what it would do. I mean, what would be the fun in that? So task completed I just had to sit back and wait for the call…

    Some time later, weeks or months, I don't really remember, he called and the first thing he said was "My computer hates me…"

  • I loved this game back in the day! For me, it was the bubble-headed but insanely sexy cousin to Descent (which I also loved). What made Forsaken great was its gorgeous visuals. From the silky smooth frame rates to the dynamic lighting and particle effects, it was an eye candy feast. The gameplay was satisfying and immersive thanks to the 6DoF.

  • OMG! Forsaken! I Use to Own that Game! i Use to Love that Game, i played it all the time!, WOW Great Times i use to have Playing that Game! i used to get Mad headaches to the point of puking some times, but that never took me away of playing Forsaken ahahahhaah!

  • I played the shit out of Descent2 back in the day. Both LAN, and over KALI. Most fun multiplayer I've had. Only played forsaken briefly though. I do remember it looking quite good on my sli voodoo2's.

  • I played this game for so many hours when I was 11. My dad built a really nice computer at the time and this was the first game he bought for it. When he was at work I'd play it basically all day long. One of my fave childhood memories was joining him and his friends for LAN parties where we'd play Forsaken all night – the first time they weren't going to let me join but I was able to convince them after a test round where I completely owned them!

  • I'm sure I saw that box on the shelf and thought "wow, that looks stupid. I don't even want to know what it's about" . The marketing really backfired on me.

  • I remember back when it came out going to a computer expo in Germany (cebit home) where they had kinda like a simulated cockpit set up to play it

  • I loved that game!

    Disabled all autoleveling options and i never really knew where was "up" but it just didnt care in the game ^^
    It was awesome 🙂

  • "The Future is Forsaken"
    I remember hearing that at the Acclaim booth at the 1998 E3. They even had the lady from those ads appear at the show.

  • For a second there I thought I saw Hardwar in my YouTube list. If you ever get the chance, it's one hell of a game.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hardwar_(video_game)

  • I remember this game when it came out. I could only play it for 10 min at a time because I'd get sick playing it and have to lie down for a while 😉

  • I still play Forsaken on my N64 to this day! One of my favourite N64 Games. I haven't played the PC version though and now I think I missed out on a lot of content and gameplay.

  • I loved playing this multiplayer on the PC back in the day. It was so much fun, and I thought the graphics were jaw-dropping. I was pretty good at it, too—maybe even better than I was as Descent. Unfortunately there was a multiplayer invulnerability cheat that ruined the fun, and I stopped playing the game because of that.

  • One of the first PC games I ever played. Not because I'm very young (I am 41 as of 2019), but because I held on to my Amiga system for as long as I possible could. My conversion to PC did not take place until 98.

  • Marketing Manager: So anyone have any ideas on how we should sell this game?
    Drunk Marketing Newhire In The Back: Put a nekkid girl on it!!!
    Marketing Manager:
    Drunk Marketing Newhire In The Back: I like nekkid girls!!!
    Marketing Manager: Ok sure.

  • Mildly disappointed you didn't mention the SpaceOrb 360 that was pushed with this game. Its odd hardware, figured you'd love it.

  • Actually in Poland we also know this game by its sexy cover. It was pasted in every PC game magazine at the time. Yup, a girl with a tattoo of a pierced heart = Forsaken….
    P.S. Pamięta ktoś okładkę Gamblera? 😉

  • i remember the art on the cover of the game when i was a kid i didn't know what the game was about but i knew my mom wasn't going to let me get it since it had the chick on the cover lol i liked decent so i probably would have loved this game.

  • LGR I would personally like to THANK YOU for showing me a game that I could never remember for the life of me as a teen to adult now. I got this game today because of you.

    Gotta love the classics!

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