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Game Maker Games - Terav
Review by Joewoof
Terav is an addictive, side-scrolling tank shooter with slick vector-styled graphics. Those simple polygonal sprites mislead players into thinking that the game itself is also simple. In reality, this game is incredibly varied and hides its complexity under a layer of intense action. In fact, it is actually more strategic than it appears, as superhuman reflexes alone will not bring victory.

In Terav, you control a nondescript tank on a barren, gray desert, much like on the Moon. You move left and right over the rolling terrain, automatically climbing over the huge dunes. You aim and fire with your mouse. You can also use a special ability depending on the tank that you are using. There is also the ability to launch yourself into the air. Your objective is simply to destroy all enemies, whatever they are.

= Target Appeal =

Good.

Vector graphics have a strange, attractive quality to that many people like. This is well implemented in this game, with many interesting enemies and even surprising bosses.

Unfortunately, that same graphical style is impersonal. It is impossible to forge any emotional connection with the tanks you control, resulting in a sense of emotional detachment from the game. The complete lack of any story context makes it worse.

On the other hand, the game presents itself to be highly professional. Everything from the starting logos, the menus to the in-game pause screen are very clean and streamlined.

= Immersion =

Excellent.

As mentioned, all graphics in this game contribute to creating a clean, professional look. Everything is amazingly well-animated. The tank itself seems to slide smoothly over the atmospheric landscape. You may notice how the wheels do not stop spinning immediately. When you stop the tank, it will begin to slowly slide down the dunes, displaying very good physics. The black background also has scrolling sand dunes, creating a sense of graphical depth. The enemies, although simple, move in distinct patterns, spinning, hovering, sliding or even smashing into the tank. The bosses are the highlight of the graphics. Not only are they surprisingly intimidating, despite the simple graphics, a number of them snap backwards from the recoil of their cannons. The attention given to details is astounding.

Likewise, the special effects are simple-yet-effective. Explosions are painted in the same color as the destroyed enemy units. These explosions also release a small number of similarly-colored particles to represent shrapnels. Enemy projectiles are all circular, with an instantly recognizable flashing effect. This boosts gameplay, allowing the player to immediately distinguish enemy fire from their own. The tank's weapons may at first seem a little dull, but they are rightly done to avoid becoming obtrusive in the already hectic gameplay. Later though, as your tank gains upgrades, you will be launching a colorful shower of destructive fireworks from your tank.

There is only one small exception. One special ability's explosion effect seems too realistic in the overall abstract theme.

Sound effects are clear and distinct, all having an echo-effect that reflects the atmosphere generated by the vast, barren landscape.

The music is especially rich and stimulating. The main piece reflects, again, the depth of the desolate landscape. It also has a digital quality that fits perfectly with the vector style of the game. A second, more action-oriented piece is also thrown in for the sake of variety. Both of them are originally composed for this game.

Unfortunately, this game completely lacks any story context. As said before, this worsens the lack of an emotional connection, resulting from the style of the graphics. Due to the great, cohesive combination of graphics, sounds and music, however, this flaw does little to taint the professional appearance of the game.

= Polish =

Excellent.

Except for one extremely rare error where the background music refuses to play, the game is free of any glitches.

There are many options provided to improve performance on older computers. A no-music version is also available for download, for those with slow connections.

= Originality =

Good.

There is already a great abundance of tank-based shooters using vector graphics. In fact, many early 3D games use this concept. The difference, however, is that this game is 2D. Many interesting new enemies and their behavior patterns are also added in. In other words, while the conceptual basis isn't very original, there is a great amount of originality involved in enemy designs.

The gameplay concept is also very innovative. The terrain system is one notable feature which effectively creates a constant sense of ever-changing movement (adding more spice to the already fast-paced action). The powerup system is especially unique, allowing you to collect and use many combinations of different weapons simultaneously.

= Smooth Learning Curve =

Fair.

Although you can access the help file from within the game, it opens your unattractive browser window that ruins the otherwise near-perfect professional look of the game. The gameplay is not complex to the point that you have to put the controls in an external HTML file. It is much better to incorporate the instructions directly into the game. On the plus side, the help file is clear and concise.

Another problem is that the game you does not tell you any important details. There are many unlockables, but the game does not even hint to you at how to obtain them. You have to gain incredibly high scores to unlock an item, but since the difficulty of the game is so great, many players will never unlock anything - ever.

The game should also provide usage descriptions of each tank's special ability, for the sake of clarity.

= Variety =

Excellent.

There is great variety in every aspect of this game. There are two different difficulty levels to choose from. As you gain higher scores, you can gain access to new tanks, with different attributes and special abilities. The differences between each special ability is so great that they present completely new dimensions to the gameplay. The terrain your tank moves upon constantly changes, with the only flat land being the areas where you fight the bosses. The terrain is also not set; it is always different each time you restart the game.

The main highlight is the huge variety of enemies. Each enemy unit is completely different from another, exhibiting distinct behaviors that are unique only to that enemy. Some move in irregular patterns, while others slowly hover by. They even differ in how they attack you. A number of enemies use suicidal tactics, some fire bullets at you, while others act as carriers that release smaller units. Not all enemies are flying. Some are also tanks, and many are static ground obstacles. Some attack in formations. Some release projectiles when they explode. Others use hit-and-run tactics, diving in to shoot lasers before escaping. For many games, the difference between enemies are merely cosmetic (they just look different, but are ultimately the same), but every single enemy unit in this game is distinctive.

The same amount of variety not only applies to bosses, but also to their behaviors. Each boss has a number of attack patterns, each requiring a different tactic to face.

That is not all, the weapons are also highly varied. The number of different weapons itself is not impressive, but the powerup system of this game allows you to combine many weapons together. This creates an infinite number of possible combinations. Not only that, since you periodically gain new powerups, these combinations also keep on changing.

= Challenge =

Lacking.

The difficulty scale is poorly adjusted. The game throws the player right into the fire from the beginning. It is no surprise if some players never defeat the first boss and pass the first level. There are no restorative powerups or save points. Considering that it is very easy to make mistakes, it makes the game even more difficult.

It takes a considerably high amount of effort and skill to pass a level, but when you die, you are brought right back to the beginning of the game. This unmerciful penalty for an already hard game is sure to frustrate many players, especially those who happen to have a slight lapse in attention that ends in a sudden death. That addition of lives can make the game a little easier. One problem is that the game constantly throws enemies at you. Having them attack in waves is more dynamic and allows players to pause and catch their breath. The pause feature does not help enough, because the pause button (ESC) is too far from the important keys. Repositioning it to SPACEBAR or another closer button will make it easier for players to pause the game.

The worst flaw is that this difficulty decreases. Each of the first three bosses do not get harder from one to the next, but become easier to defeat. Since the game is already very hard, presenting the hardest of the first three bosses first only serves to further frustrate the less skillful players.

On the other hand, each level does become progressively harder. The game also rewards you with a tank if you get a really high score. You can also argue that this high difficulty contributes to its addictiveness, but for every person who finds this enjoyable, there may be countless others who give up.

= Depth =

Excellent.

As mentioned earlier, this game appears to only require good reflexes, but it is greatly more strategic than it appears. The use of the tanks' special abilities themselves are quite tricky. Often times, using your normal weapons are more effective, but there are particular situations where the correct use of special abilities will mean the difference between victory and defeat. For example, "Time Stretch" is highly useful in boss battles, helping you to grab a newly fallen powerup before it fades away.

The implementation of "intentional imbalances" is especially fascinating. Weapons are made unequal in power and effectiveness. The result is that you feel rewarded when you gain the more powerful weapon. However, it is a bad tactic to conserve the more powerful weapons, as they have time limits. It means that you have to collect any powerup, whatever they are, but still feel rewarded when you gain something powerful. In many games, weapons many be balanced well, but this creates a sense of indifference when getting certain powerups.

Likewise, enemies are also intentionally imbalanced. This allows the possibility of strategic prioritization, where you have to quickly decide which enemies you should target first. The most dangerous enemies are those ground-based ones that block your way. Following that are suicidal divers, beamers and so on.

The greatest amount of strategy lies in fighting bosses. In fact, you may never defeat the first boss if you use reflexes alone. When the first boss spins, it fires a slow-moving shower of bullets directly at you. If you follow your instincts alone, you will drive yourself into the corner and be smothered by those bullets. The trick is to slowly move away from the boss, so that the boss stops firing before you reach the edge of the screen. For another boss, you have to fight beneath it for the best effectiveness. However, when it spins its cannons, you have to quickly move away or risk being brutally pummeled by a shower of bullets. For each boss, you have to learn its behavior patterns as fast as possible and use that strategic knowledge to your advantage.

The unique powerup system itself also adds to that strategy. Later on, it becomes more difficult to collect powerups, but enemies are also tougher. Recklessly picking up all powerups you see makes you vulnerable to enemy fire, but running out of powerups is even worse, as you won't be able to bring down the number of enemies firing at you. Powerups fade away very fast, meaning that you have to always make a quick decision at the moment a powerup drops.

For the sake of replayability, there is also an online highscore system (although they are rarely reliable). Additional replayability is also provided by having new tanks to choose from. Playing as each tank is like playing a totally different gameplay mode, as you need a whole new set of tactics to face enemies and bosses.

= Overall =

Excellent.

Terav is a truly fascinating tank-based scrolling-shooter with great graphics and innovative gameplay. Under a veil of unparalleled variety lies a surprising amount of strategic depth. The game also has a very professional look.

Unfortunately, less skillful players may find more frustration than fun from this game, as it is overly difficult and merciless. For others, this game is absolutely a "must-play".

What are you waiting for? Go and blast those polygonal evils into pieces.



= Author's Description =

Terav is a stage-based scrolling tank shooter that includes an original powerup system, over 30 varieties of enemies, and several bosses. There are also unlockable tanks and other unlockable features.

There is an online hiscore table here.

Download Terav (EXE, ~2.24 MB , Suitable for everyone )

View Mocha Man (Ben Roth)'s Profile

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Opinions about Terav

Showing: GMG Staff (2) · GMG Users (1)

engaging
100%
artistic
50%
original
50%
strange
0%
challenging
100%
polished
100%
compelling
100%

Overall: recommended

Showing: GMG Staff (2) · GMG Users (1)

engaging
100%
artistic
0%
original
100%
strange
0%
challenging
100%
polished
100%
compelling
100%

Overall: recommended

Recommendations: The 20 people who like Terav also like the following games.
Comments (Add your own):
2011.03.01 Gåsen
Rating: 9

Probably my all-time most played GM game. So much fun, and I like the challenge it brings, though the unlockables are generally too hard to get.
2007.12.17 Tainic
Rating: 1

Too hard to enjoy playing.
..................................
2007.02.01 Alert Games
Rating: 10

I still play this game since it got a review last year. Deserves a 10.
2007.01.30 zewie-x
Rating: 9

this sound crazy!But do some one know a programer
that can make games with 3d tools like 3ds max,CharacterShop,and so on. i can toose so go in on my game lorty2
2007.01.16 NintendoTeen
Rating: 9

Cool Graphics. I made it up to the first boss.
2007.01.12 Darkcomet72
Rating: 10

I don't see what people are talking about in regards to boss battles; there's no doubt that the 4th boss's rapid fire attack is much harder to dodge than the 1st boss's. With the exception of the 2nd one, I thought the bosses did get harder slightly.

10/10 Game of the year 06
2007.01.09 FlamingCow90
Rating: 9

I, like the others, am addicted to this game. unfortunately, the diffuculty is perterbing. This game has showed me how much I suck at action games, once again.. How bout a deal? if you make an 'easy' mode, of at least put in health boxes, i'll give you a cookie ...

Two cookies??

I did manage to get past the third boss and unlocked the one tank but how do you unlock more levels and tanks?? Pluss, I like the starting tank better than the unlockable...

oh, and Baltirow? the first boss curls up his legs and tracks you with his body thingy... Isn't that a warning enough?

Would be ten if not for the diffuculty...
2007.01.06 twizko
Rating: 10

first time i have ever given a rate;10... 2 words = LOVED IT
2006.12.21 Taicade Studios
Rating: 10

Incredible. This is honestly one of the top five GM6 games, and one of the top ten GM games of all time. Excellent work.

10/10
2006.11.12 Boonzgamez
Rating: 9

My little brother dislikes the game because of it's minimalistic graphics. But not me. 9 out of10, it was way to hard, especially the first boss's rapid-fire attack.
2006.11.07 ruhtrA
Rating: 10

Even after clocking it in every way possible, I still find myself coming back to this game because it is so, dam, kool
2006.10.15 Erik Leppen
Rating: --

Bug! I got stuck at the right side of the screen while fighting the first boss. I don't know what caused it, but I was about 15 percent out of the screen.
2006.10.01 chunky1
Rating: 10

Awesome game! just got past all four levels on normal mode. Hard but super addicting!
2006.09.14 Boonzgamez
Rating: 9

Great game, Hard game, Simple game(Although I'm sure it took a lot of coding), Awesome game.
My brother doesn't appreciate the graphics, though. He disaproves the whole game just because of the simple graphics.
2006.09.09 Erik Leppen
Rating: --

I got an error at start-up today.

http://www.maj.com/gallery/ErikLeppen/WindowsScreenshots/terav_error.png
2006.09.08 Erik Leppen
Rating: 10

In one word: amazing!

I love the style of the graphics, the fast-paced action that comes with this game and the variety of enemies and weapons. However it is a little too difficult, as 22,000 is the highest score I got until now. I am definately going to play this more often. The first boss was superb in moving and shooting, but a bit too hard to beat (and even reach). Moving over a mountainous terrain is cool too, you are obliged to keep an eye out for everything in this game, which makes it a action-packed shooting game.

I have one suggestion hwoever, maybe you could enable anti-aliasing for everything in the game, to further decrease the pixel-ness of the game.

I like the yellow weapon most :)
2006.08.31 Alert Games
Rating: 10

Very, very nice. :) I didn't get too far, but I will play it again later :)
2006.07.22 evilguy12
Rating: 10

Brilliant game. Very very very challanging. I still haven't got past level 1 yet.
2006.07.21 operating_thetan
Rating: 10

wow. this game is sooo much fun and addicting, it totally seemed retro to me. i like the fact that i could use my own music, it really enhances the experience when i can choose the music i'm blasting geometric shapes to. this makes me think that someone should create a gm homebrew version of geowars.
2006.07.20 MOG 10
Rating: 9

I've only just started playing.( having just downloaded it and played for about 10 mins) I'm hooked. The graphics and animation are amazinng!!! The gameplay is also the same. I here there's a boss! See ya!! I'm off to play more!
2006.07.06 jmanjman47
Rating: 8

Woa, this game got me hoooked. Very nice work
2006.07.04 superguy
Rating: 10

this game is kickass it should me rated 10 well done ........ number 2 plz
2006.06.30 Baltirow
Rating: --

Thanks Joewoef, though I managed to figure it out on my own. Oh, and ofcourse I meant you, not Jabberwock :S srry

The only real point I wanted to make there is that the first time(s) you get to the first boss, you hardly have the health left to find out how it works. I remember getting fried by the laser the first time, which was shot without (animated*) warning. After that, I knew that I had to stay a bit away from him when the legs went up. The big energy shots are an example of an attack you do ahve the chance of avoiding when you are unfamiliar with the boss. This is why the second boss is 'easier' even though the attacks are more vicious.

I have to admit though, it is very addicting, and has greatr gameplay. Still, I usually won't play a second round, because it would mean having to go through the entire first level again. Though it does get easier with the experience, it is still bound to which powerups you get (which you hardly can aquire strategically, for they disappear rapidly) or if you get them at all.

*) A charging animation or such, be it a fracture of a second, would be enough. It's only the first boss, mind you.
2006.06.30 raketooy
Rating: 10

Oh my god! Easily the best GM game I've ever played! Extremely good graphics and gameplay + a nice music.
2006.06.29 Joewoof
Rating: --

Baltirow (and other similarly frustrated players), I mentioned how to completely avoid getting hit by the first boss's spray attack in my review. That tactic is under the Depth category. Basically, move away from the boss SLOWLY, avoiding running yourself into the corner at all costs.
2006.06.29 Jabberwock
Rating: --

I got to the third boss, almost beat him with just over 100,000 points. Man, this game is addictive.
2006.06.28 Baltirow
Rating: 8

It's just the distortion ot the image due to resizing by the browser. The -1 is probably a 4.

Its a really fun game, very addictive. Love the music, great graphs.

Still I have to agree with Jabberwock's review that this game lacks on playability and has a very steep learning curve . Adding lives and checkpoints would help, perhaps an easy setting.

It took me about three attempts before I reached the first boss and another four before I finally defeated it. Most of the time I was so low on health, I couldn't even have a scartch when it shot its spray attack (which, most of the time, is hard to completely avoid)

Also, sometimes you kill many enemies without receiving powerups. Getting powerups or not seriously affects your ability to prevent getting your ass kicked :) Perhaps adding fixed powerups in some of the stationary ground enemies would help.

Still, a solid game!
2006.06.28 Jabberwock
Rating: 9

Baltirow- you mean Joewoof's review? I don't write reviews. ;)

This is a great game, but like Joewoof said, fair too bloody difficult. If you added health bonuses, that might help. I like all the different weapons and combinations, though, and the graphics are cool stuff. It's definately too hard, though- even my brother, who is the master of all video games, got frustrated by it. It's very addictive, though.
2006.06.27 wrathwell productions
Rating: 10

very nicely done! The game ran very smoothly and although the graphics were simple, they were still awsome! The music went very well with the game too. The bosses were the best though! They were pretty tough, and they looked cool too. I also liked the different powerups, and how you can mix them up or combine the same weapon to make it stronger. Oh god I have to play it again! Awsome job!!!
2006.06.27 GamerHippo7
Rating: 9

TERAV2!!!!!
TERAV2!!!!!
Jeeeze Mocha...... This is mad fun! The difficulty rocks because it keeps me playing again and again and again. HAHAHHAHA ROCKIN' FUN.
2006.06.27 ronnoc
Rating: --

is it just me, or does the screen shot have a negaitive score?
2006.04.25 mkkohan
Rating: 10

Great Game!
Cool Graphics!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Definitely one of my favourite GM games!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
2006.04.25 cactus
Rating: 9

Amazing game. One of the best games in the archive no doubt.
2006.04.23 Radnom Games
Rating: 10

WOW.

Freakin' good. Seriously worh the download.

Reminds me of all those amazing quirky Japanese games that I love so much. Very fun, as well.

I made it past the third boss (really good bosses) and did somewhere on that level.

The fist boss was great because the pieces were individual, whereas the later bosses didn't seem to be.

One of my fave GM games.
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