It's odd that Cybermorph is still a bit of a running joke whenever anyone mentions the Jaguar. Odd, because it is actually a very playable game, with tight controls and fairly decent graphics for the time it was was released. Yes, the continual mocking of the infamous green-faced AI companion grates somewhat...but you know what? If you don't crash into everything you can see, you won't hear her! 

Battlemorph is the sequel to Cybermorph and it appears that the developers took a lot of notice of the reviews and opinions of the first game, because it's a massive improvement over the prequel in almost every area. For starters, there is a coherent storyline that is played out from the very beginning of the game via some impressive pre-rendered FMV (along with a Sean Connery impression courtesy of comedian/actor Rob Brydon), and lots of briefing and weapons selection screens that are much, much better than those seen in Cybermorph.

The story (if you care), is that the antagonists from the first game - the Pernitians - have been pushed out of the human worlds of the Galaxy back to their own little shit hole. In order to stop them coming back for more, the Earth Defense Council sends a load of battle cruisers to the more remote planet clusters to patrol, but slowly (and rather predictably), the Pernitians return and start destroying these cruisers and taking over again. Enter the Sutherland - Earth's last remaining heavy cruiser. The Sutherland is sent to find the homeworld of the Pernitians and destroy them once and for all, and is armed with a secret weapon: the top secret War Griffon, which is an upgrade of Cybermorph's T-Griffon. So you jump into the cockpit of the War Griffon and jet down to the surface of various Pernitian-controlled planets in order to basically blow the crap out of everything you see, steal plans, destroy bases and even detonate entire planets.

If you've played Cybermorph, you'll feel instantly at home with Battlemorph as everything is pretty much the same...but better. The controls are virtually identical, and the game looks quite similar but it's the small improvements that will, weirdly, make the most impact on you. The onboard AI Skylar is now much less vocal (and has a blue face now!) and will only pop up to announce mission-specific stuff or if your shields are low/you've picked up a new weapon etc., and the music has been improved dramatically (in fact, I don't even think there was any in the first game if memory serves). The graphics have been improved slightly with lots more texture mapping, enemy types and benign indigenous lifeforms roaming around; and the draw distance and backgrounds have really been given a boost thanks to the extra storage on the CD format.

Perhaps the biggest new feature in Battlemorph though, is the new environments. Thanks to the War Griffon being much more advanced than the crappy old T-Griffon, you can now dive beneath the surface of any bodies of water you might spot and this adds a whole new dimension to the game as certain mission objectives or items can be hidden under the waves. The graphical effects used are really quite good, as everything goes 'wavy' as if it's being viewed through water currents. Other new environments include some first-person-shooter style bits where you travel through tunnels or go inside buildings to collect power ups.

Really, what you get with Battlemorph is more of what made Cybermorph a great game, but with a whole lot more added. CD-quality music and sound effects, more missions, great presentation and upgraded graphics. This is a perfect example of what could be achieved with the Jaguar CD and only makes it more painful that either the Jag didn't launch with a CD drive as standard, or that the add-on was launched earlier so developers had more time to make more games for it. A great game, with a lot going for it and if you own a Jag CD you should really own Battlemorph too.

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