I have to qualify the platform of this game with the title since I also have the Sega Saturn version which will probably come up in the experiment sooner or later. Indeed, Independence Day, based on the 1996 movie, has a total of 3 platform ports including the PlayStation, and none have screenshots in the database. Why the mystery? I shall be the brave soul to take on the savage aliens.
I suppose I’m lucky in a way since I generally get to experience these older games with the maximum features on offer. ID4 for Windows allows the player to select between a 3D MMX software engine and a Direct3D HAL engine. Naturally, I choose the latter hardware option along with 11 kHz stereo audio rather than the plain monophonic option. High-end.
The object of this game is to fly a jet, shoot down alien fighter craft, and ultimately bring down a bunch of gigantic alien ships. I see from the instruction manual that the control scheme is slightly reminiscent of Descent, which strikes me as a bit cheesy. Fortunately, it’s not precisely the same; the jet is always moving, never stationary although you can throw on the “air brakes” to slow way down temporarily.
The beginning of the game shows you some cinematics lifted from the film. The jets approach the big ship, get their collective rears handed to them, and then fall back to the Grand Canyon to continue the battle. Strategically, no voices or likenesses of actors from the movie are ever heard or seen. Unlike in the movie, one of the city-destroying alien ships follows you to the Grand Canyon. You first mission is to take out its 4 shield generators and then fry its main cannon.
So you’re bounded by some uninspired canyon landscape below, a flat spaceship surface above, and the alien forcefield on all sides. Boundaries, we need boundaries. Also, all objects are essentially rubber in this game. If you hit anything, you sort of slide and bounce off into a different direction. Sometimes your aircraft sustains damage as a result but you have the check your power meter in order to know since there are no audible or visual cues to indicate hurtful encounters.
I realized that I’m thinking too hard about the game at first. The gameplay isn’t complicated and you don’t have to aim. When you fire your bullets, the cannon just points to wherever the auto-aiming facility is pointing. The alien fighters would be impossible to hit were it not for the audible “You’ve got tone” chatter from your wingman to indicate that you really ought to fire off a missile. Hitting the generator requires constant sweeps back and forth past the stationary targets until I remember about those “air brakes”. Eventually, I somehow bring down one of the big craft. The game rewards me with an overly long sweep of practically the entire unremarkable ship along with clipped canyon polygons below.
All told, I find the controls to be incredibly awkward. I can’t wait to see how the design crew transposed all the controls onto the Saturn controller.
When I procured and investigated the Sega Saturn version of this title many years ago for the purpose of multimedia study, I found that it had a number of multimedia files bearing the extension .egg. I was always curious if the other platform ports used the same format. Amazingly, no! At least the Windows port uses uses yet another custom file format, this one with the extension .yqs, and it’s a completely different format inside.