And from a darkened tunnel emerged a shaken, nervous fellow, clutching a plasma gun. Steve Bradley lives to tell a tale of gloom...
"You are teleported into the first level and left with nothing but a gun. Go for it big time."
ome moons ago, we presented you with a double-barrelled Coverdisk of the first-person shoot-‘em-ups, Alien Breed 3D and Death Mask (AF71). Death Mask was not exactly the Doom-clone the Amiga had been waiting for, limited fun though it undoubtedly was, and Team 17s impressive looking Alien Breed 3D has yet to see the light of the day. Over the past few months, we have used the term Doom-clone rather often. Let me explain, for it is just possible that you won’t understand the term (he said, desperately trying not to patronise).
Anyway, a couple of years ago, Doom broke on to the PC scene – a game which single-handedly revolutionised the machine. People actually bought a PC simply to play that one game. You see, the action is from the first-person perspective (through your eyes, basically) and a gun points your way forward. Roaming through tunnels, you blast everything in sight, pick-up boosters and head for the exit to the next level.
A real ‘Doomster’
Step forward and park thyselves in the spotlit leather-seat coders Black Magic, friends of fellow Antipodeans Acid and Vision Software, for you are first in the tunnel. So Gloom is the first ‘real’ Doomster to hit the Amiga. So what? Well, ever since Doom took the PC by storm, Amiga-owners everywhere have been looking forward to seeing a similar-style game for our machine. No matter that it is hardly an original idea, or that games of its ilk are available on PD – we want what they have got, only without the hassle of reconfiguring the software before you get to shoot anybody.
Black Magic’s Mark Sibly has written (or been involved in) some of the best Amiga games, including Skidmarks, Guardian and Overkill, as well as ace programming language Blitz Basic (and BB2), which is part of the development software for Gloom. The fine attention to detail prevalent in Sibly’s previous titles is clearly in evidence here.
Enough of that for now – we will cruise past the plot at pace. You are teleported into a building and left with nothing but a gun, or a ‘standard issue plasma cannon’, as they are known, and there are people and things who want to kill you. That is it, son. Off you go and the best of luck.
Meaty and messy
Simple early doors. Gather the weapon boosters and unleash a volley of bullets at the hapless fodder, but I would recommend you use the ‘messy’ rather than ‘meaty’ mode. Messy leaves the enemy’s limbs and flesh scattered across the floor, and this is a good thing, particularly when you are in the more complex levels later on – you certainly always know where you have been, though occasionally they serve to obscure the power-ups a tad.
Gloom is best played with the keyboard or CD32-pad, because you can sidestep left and right, a great means to dodge fire and re-adjust aim. And creep around corners.
After a bit of practice on the early levels, you learn the best routes to take, where the pick-ups and enemy are situated (and where you are likely to get ambushed), and how best to combat them, losing as little energy as possible en-route.
The levels are split into three main sections, each with contrasting décor and evermore menacing degenerates. Transparent ghoulies haunt the second phase, floating through walls, emitting green liquid when you punish their impudence, while flying devils with unfeasibly large teeth suck you in on the later stages.
And it is not just a case of dashing the corridors, wielding the axe. Some levels have revolving rooms where you have to move as it rotates )rather like a revolving door), ensuring you sneak out at the right exit.
The worst thing is when you get squashed against the wall, watching your health rapidly deteriorate, before you make good your escape. Suddenly, a skinhead is charging towards you and before you can exclaim “I am armed, dangerous and practised in all the major martial arts”, you are dead.
Really, there is not anything here which makes you gasp in awe, it is just that Gloom works so beautifully overall. The two-player head-to-head games are dull in the extreme, though.
The sound. Crivens, the music is fabulous and the howling, screeching and booming gunfire effects are entirely in keeping with the mood. And when you blast the poor blighters, their flesh splays to reassuringly horrendous, squelching sound. But louder footsteps next time, please.
There are enough puzzles to keep the folk that like to creep around content and those with a penchant for destruction will not be disappointed.
Truly, Gloom is a fine game. I would have preferred a password system, even if there were only two for the next couple of phases. Main contenders, Fears and Alien Breed 3D, will be doing just dandy if they can attain this standard. Smashing!
Amiga Format, Issue 75, September 1995, p.p.45-47