The Chaos Engine
David Bradforth reviews a recent addition to the games players arsenal.
When R-Comp Interactive announced, back at the start of 1998, they were entering the games market, I don't think anybody believed quite how true that would be. Now, some ten+ blockbuster releases later, we've got a classic from the days of the Amiga. Not bad, really: it's only five years after the title was first to become available from Renegade, who pulled the plug on it after poor Acorn sales of Sensible Soccer.
We've had Commando-style games under RISC OS before: Network 23, who produced the superb Warlock released their own version in 1997. Since then, however, nothing has developed the original Commando concept and added 'features' so to speak. At last, all that has changed.
So how best do we delve into such a deep game? In order to beat the Chaos Engine, he quotes from the manual, you'll need to activate all the large silver "nodes" in each level. Within the game, you may find a node as something which appears to stick out from the screen with a sort of whitey grey colour - it'll be unmistakable.
Along the way, there's all sorts of different monsters and enemies to defeat. Good thing, therefore, that Chaos Engine also allows you to customise the team you use for this mission. Before you begin playing the game, you're given 6,000 credits to choose two people from six who have the abilities you most want for your team. From bandit to mercenary, gentleman to navvie, thug to preacher: they all have their own positive aspects and negative aspects, and it's really up to you to see how best they operate in the game.
To progress through the game, you'll need to solve puzzles, find keys and activate devices. I'll have to admit that I haven't got far enough in the game to progress at all, which makes commenting on this somewhat difficult. Silver keys are essential for progression; but gold keys are the ones you'll find of most use: particularly if you're low on health. The nodes have special properties, and open additional exits for every node you activate, usually placing you at a different start point on the next level.
If you want to make use of the shop, you'll need to collect gold & silver credits as you play. Other items worth collecting include food, special powers, one-off effects and the mysterious 'Yin-Yang' symbol, which remembers a location in case you die. You return there afterwards, see... The special powers you collect can be activated by using the shift key, and most are useful...perhaps some not so.
Shopping for some skill?
The shop will become your most regular point of call, should you play the game correctly. In it, you'll be able to buy additional attributes for your character: Skill is the key one, and increasing this will also have an affect on all of the other characteristics of the game.
Hmm.. Chaos Engine is one of those games which I found a little slow to get into - mainly because I'm not very good at it. I suspect that after playing the game for a while I'll get better, but really I've had it for a good few months now and that still isn't the case. One day, I'm still living in hope of a RISC OS version of Crash Bandicoot. Or Rayman. Or any other game of that type...
If you're a fan of nostalgic 16 bit games of old, Chaos Engine is a worthy addition to your collection. If you're an appalling player of this type of game, get it anyway and get better!
Editors note - David may not be very good at The Chaos Engine, but I played it for ages on the Atari ST when it first came out and enjoyed it no end, it really is a very good game. It you don't believe me then why not try the demo version on this months CD.