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Gloom logo  AGA  Amiga Format Gold

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."

Gloom: Exit door
Cunningly, the exit door. Walk through.

Gloom: Invincibility potion
Grab this and you become invincible.

Gloom: Weapon booster
Erm, a weapon booster. More power.

Gloom: Health potion
Grab this and boost your health level.

Gloom: Switch
Opens doors elsewhere in the level.

Gloom: Switch
Open and run back. Enemy behind.

Gloom S 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.
Doom has been converted to most platforms, though not the Amiga, and in the past two years the race has been on to produce a 3D-engine which can handle both the necessary pace and graphic detail to satisfy Amiga gamers everywhere.

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.
You can use pads, sticks or the keyboard, play linked with a null modem cable and fiddle with the screen to your heart’s content, adjusting the resolution, window size and graphic detail to suit. The resolution swaps the pixel size between large and small, and while the smaller pixels look better, they draw a mite slower.

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.
Access doors, enhance weaponry and collect the jugs of health. By jove, it is a simple idea. No, the question most asked of the Amiga Doom clones is, “how fast and detailed is the 3D engine”?
Gloom is fabulously proficient in this department. Not only does it look splendid, there is very little slow down (though, in two-player, split-screen mode the brakes are sometimes on), even when you are confronted with a gaggle of ‘cultists’ as the enemy soldiers are known.

Meaty and messy
Gloom 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.
No passwords, though, and with 21 mazes to scoot and not a map in sight, the only way to progress is through sheer diligence, learning the layout and the most economical ways to punish the fearsome fellows. Each maze has a secret room housing power-ups and some have bonus games (including Defender) and it is certainly worth checking every nook and cranny to locate them – they are generally found in parts where the scenery slightly differs.
Weapon boosters come in the shape of hovering fireballs and the green balls, in particular, are magnificent. When you get a full artillery, the next ball you collect slaps you with the mega boost, a double-barrelled blast.
It is one of the great feelings in a computer game, to march down a corridor, blasting enemy soldiers without taking on board so much as a scratch, their bodies exploding into a mushy morass. Corks, I hope my granny is not reading this.

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.
Importantly, the health bottles, which (obviously) boost your energy levels are often situated in the teleport exits to the next level. To attain any success in Gloom, you need all your lives intact when hopping into the tricky, later levels, where the going gets mighty tough. And in the early stages, there are no extra lives to be found, so caution is the order of the day. Be careful, young man.

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.

Full-on blast
Gloom 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.
In Alternative’s Death Mask, at least you could access a map and find out where your opponent lurked. And with the regenerating power-ups, you always had a chance to win the bout, even if the end was near on nigh, whereas Gloom is a straight, full-on blast with little else to offer.
Gloom’s two-player, friendly option is far better (particularly on two Amigas with a null-modem cable) and you can organise who scouts around which area, saving valuable time and energy in the process.

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


Guildhall Leisure 01302 890000



System requirements

Release date
Out now

Graphics   9 out of 10
Just squint at those transparent ghouls. Mighty fine.

Sound   9 out of 10
Howls, grunts, screams, squeals, screeches and squelches.

Addiction   8 out of 10
Oh yes, but it is a shame you have to go back to the start.

Playability   8 out of 10
Keyboard and pad great. Non-stick, if you please.

Overall verdict
A resounding success, Gloom is a truly fine shoot-‘em-up, atmospheric and darned frightening in equal measures. Glory be!