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Battle to survive alien annihilation.

Conquered by an ancient alien race, humankind faces possible extinction as the Earth struggles to survive. Determined to stay alive, you realise your only hope is to join a death-defying rebel force.
Launch and rule the air in a high-speed space combat fighter, Duel monstrous opponents in a mechanised warrior, Destroy land invaders through surface planetary combat and command a lethal tail-gunner vessel through futuristic, pre-rendered pathways.
With four styles of intense space battle, live-action cinematics, and an unnerving storyline, The Raven Project is deep-space action at its most electrifying.
  • The only space-battle adventure with four explosive combat styles: ship-to-ship combat, mechanised warrior battles, surface planetary warfare and tail-gunning action.
  • Combines dramatic action-adventure with spectacular space-flight simulation.
  • Live-action video scenes unravel a complex, cinematic plot.
  • Choose from more tha 5 sleek, futuristic spacecraft.
  • A gleaming arsenal of high-tech weaponry.
  • A first-person perspective plunges you headfirst into this intergalactic battlefest.
  • The Raven Project was developed by Cryo Interactive Entertainment - the force behind hit titles 'Megarace' and 'Dragon Lore'.
~ from the back of the box

Back in the '90s, the king of the epic space sim was Wing Commander. By 1995, Origin Systems' hailed franchise boasted the largest production budget of any video game at that point. Despite being more revered on computers than on consoles, it was big enough a launch a Hollywood movie by the end of the decade, and also a whole bunch of copycats. Not one to let let their Silicon Graphics machine go to waste, French studio Cryo Interactive got to work to muscle in on Wing Commander's dominance to create The Raven Project. At least that's what magazines at the time appeared to be saying.

Coming on two FMV-filled discs, The Raven Project does appear to have a lot in common with that seminal space shooter, but when you look under the surface it is its own beast. The game has four different play styles, and a nifty voxel-generated engine populated with some good-looking polygonal spacecraft. By being mostly set on a planet's surface, that alone would set it apart from the dogfight in the void of space that made up its inspiration, but one of those play styles is a major departure. A huge chunk of the game is a lengthy pre-rendered mouse-controlled rail shooter. Having become familiar with it, the hodgepodge of mechanics makes Star Wars: Rebel Assault a far more appropriate comparison.

You mission select base will add new vehicles as the game progresses (left).
It will eventually be replaced with a high-tech space station (right).

Our planet has been conquered by aggressive aliens, and it's up to you and the Rebel Forces to fight back. We kick off our adventure on Earth at a military base that's ominously bereft of troops. A character-less robot fills us in on the next mission before we fly out on our legally distinct X-Wing on the hunt of enemy installations. This is a multi-path FMV video where each section has a number of space-craft to shoot down, and a selection of power structure to tag. The map here is impressively large, and finding your way down each road both ways is somewhat rewarding. If you want to shoot and tag everything, however, it does overstay its welcome. When the level is over, you do have to do it all over again, this time destroying what you have tagged.

In a gripe that would define the whole game, the controls here are unfortunately a little lacking. If found the mouse movement and aiming to be wildly inconsistent. Sometimes a craft would be hit with it barely in your crosshairs. Other times, a seemingly direct hit will be a disheartening miss. It's not a complete determent as pathways can be played over again to get those that got away if you know your way around, and the game is forgiving enough to let a poor performance slide. Regardless, it does mar what would otherwise be a wholly satisfying rail shooter.

The mission score. 50% complete appears to be a passing grade (left).
Play any of the gameplay types however you want in the space-station's training room (right).

When it comes to the more traditional simulation segments, they come in three flavours; land speeder, mech attacks, and intergalactic dogfights. They each play roughly the same with controls that nicely map onto a modern controller thanks to the DOSBox mapper. This goes some way in aiding these sections, but there is still a lack of polish in them when compared to the rest of the presentation. Each stage basically consists of pressing the lock-on button to target your nearest enemy, then shoot them when you can. Whatever your vehicle, it will be quick to accelerate, slow to brake and sluggish to turn. Getting in the right position to aim is a major part of the difficulty, and it's near impossible to figure out from what direction you're taking hits from. 

Even so, the stages are lenient on how many hits you can actually take and if you're doing well, they're short enough to not overstay their welcome. Compared to the lashing the game got upon release, I don't think it plays that bad - it's functional at least - but like most of Cryo's output the focus was obviously placed on the impressive computer-generated art than the gameplay.

Selecting Hades as an enemy in the Training Room (left).
Getting a good look at him in the Tech Room, which is just an excuse to show off Cryo's CGI art (right).

About halfway through, the game will switch up locations as the Earth-set military base gets replaced with a fully equipped space station. From now on, other options will open up including a full encyclopaedia of all allies and enemies as well as a virtual training room where you can play any of the gameplay styles however you want. This doesn't stop the game from becoming repetitive but with a relatively short running time it's not enough to stop you from seeing the end. You can even save over an hour of playtime if you skip all of the cutscenes and animatics that play out.

Generally, The Raven Project is one of Cryo's better games outside of the adventure genre. It got lambasted upon release for not being as polished as other games with an aggregate review score brought down by the very different PlayStation port. If you don't go in with a better game in mind to compare it to, you might have a smidgen of uncomplicated, unimpressive, unexpected fun. 

To download the game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses the DOSBox-X build of DOSBox to bring the game to modern systems. Manual and Quick Guide included. Read the ChamberNotes.txt for more detailed information. Tested on Windows 10.

File Size: 913 Mb.  Install Size: 1.22 Gb.  Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ


The Raven Project is © Cryo Interactive
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me

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