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Game Review: Beneath A Steel Sky – Remastered

iBASS5Developer: Revolution Pocket

Category: Games

Price: £2.99

It says rather a lot about the classic game, Beneath A Steel Sky, that, 15 years on, it is not only fondly remembered but is still able to generate a buzz among gamers. After all, it had long been been thought that the point-and-click adventure genre, to which this game belongs, died some some ago. Today it’s all about high energy first person shooters and 3D adventuring and yet this remastered version of BASS for the iPhone still retains a certain freshness – and that is down to the way in which creative director, Charles Cecil, has approached this PC-to-mobile port. Charles decided to release BASS for free into the public domain on the PC some years ago and so it was vital that this iPhone version contained enough extra material to justify a purchase.

Over the last few years, we have seen many straight ports of older games on the current generation of consoles and, in some cases, we’ve been expected to pay more for the games today than they cost to snap up a couple of decades ago. So when a developer decides to invest more time in bringing their old game up-to-date – hence the addition of the word Remastered – it is to be heartily applauded. The first thing you notice is the brand new animation, produced by Dave Gibbons, the creator of the Watchmen comics. This amazingly stylised intro replaces the comic book which was included in the box of the original and it is highly polished yet kitsch. Well-voiced, poignant and gripping, it fits in well with the style of the game itself, introducing Robert Foster as he is taken from his indigenous Australian tribe by stormtriBASS3oopers from Union City. One helicopter crash later and Foster is ready to escape with his robot buddy, Joey, and discover exactly what is happening in the process.

That the control system has been overhauled is evident straight away and thankfully Revolution has not gone down a similar path to LucasArts’ control system for The Secret of Monkey Island. It takes just a minute to become acquainted with the control of BASS. By tapping on various parts of the screen, you can discover hotspots and their accompanying actions. So tap on Joey and you will be able to chat to him, tap on a lift and you will have the option to view it or perform an action. A box in the left hand bottom corner shows your inventory and a question mark top right gives you handy hints if you become stuck – dumbing down for today’s audience but it does prevent days of head scratching. The graphics of the game itself are taken straight from the PC game but their stylised look hasn’t dated it too much. Improvements have been made with the audio, however. The voice tracks have been re-sampled and are much clearer than the original which used to suffer in places.

If there is a disappointment, it is that Revolution Software has not given BASS the same sort of treatment it gave to the remastered version of Broken Sword for the DS and Wii. With those games, entire new scenes were added and it brought in the backstory of one of the leading characters. No such tinkering is evident with BASS. What Charles is hoping for, however, is a resurgence of interest in the BASS story that would lead to a brand new sequel being produced. When you consider that it is costing just £2.99 to cast a “vote” for sequel and that for that price you get to relive a 15-year-old classic in the palm of your hand (and maybe even complete it), it’s one of this year’s greatest bargains.

Longevity: 9.0
Fun factor: 9.2
Practicality: 8.9
Value For Money: 9.0

Kung Fu Verdict: 9.0