ESWAT: City Under Siege has always been a Genesis favorite of mine. I love the graphical style, the ability to transform into a RoboCop-style figure and crush evildoers with superior firepower. I enjoyed it even more after finally playing the arcade original, which in my view isn’t nearly as good. The Genesis version is far better, and now it has been released on mobile platforms as part of the Sega Forever series.
The game looks and sounds great on my Samsung S7. The visuals are crisp, and I was pleased that everything translated so well to the portable screen. I had no issues with the audio either, and while I’m not enough of an audiophile to know whether things are 100% identical to the cartridge original, I can honestly say that I didn’t detect any problems with Sega’s emulation in this regard. It’s certainly true that ESWAT’s soundtrack wasn’t exactly riveting back in 1990, but the compositions were clean and still had that distinct “launch window” sound. Thankfully, that has made the transition intact.
Where the chinks begin to show in ESWAT’s cyber armor is in the gameplay. The touch screen controls can be problematic, particularly when ducking or trying to shoot up. The digital D-pad just doesn’t respond well enough to allow you to alter your shot when enemies attack from multiple directions at once. After repeated play, I was able to accustom myself to the digital pad enough to be competent, but I noticed that stages were much more challenging that they were on the Genesis. Thankfully, there is an option to use an external controller, but that kind of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it? I’m considering buying a small Bluetooth control pad and leaving it in my car. That way, I’ll have one on hand for trips to the doctor’s office or other such situations. In all fairness, digital control pads have always been a problem on just about any phone or tablet I’ve played, so it’s not exclusive to ESWAT. The interface isn’t too intrusive, and the buttons works fine. It’s the D-pad that’s a problem.
I do like the leaderboards and the fact that the game is linked to a broader service. The problems with the digital gamepad is something that’s plaguing a lot of mobile games, and hopefully a viable alternative will appear soon. It’s still early in Sega Forever’s lifespan, and if Sega can figure out how to address the D-pad issue, then there’s great promise for accurate and portable versions of its platformers and shooters.