Fears logo AGA

Reviewed by Andy Maddock

Amiga product plans must becoming more and more hectic as the months fly by. For instance, Guildhall leisure release a spectacular 3D Doom-like game only two or three months ago and already they have just finished their latest release. In fact, it's something you'd never expect - another Doom-clone! Not a sequel, but another full blown attempt at recreating Doom on the Amiga. By the looks of this one, they've finally done it.

Months and months of speculation can now seriously be forgotten because even I didn't believe a true Doom version could arrive on the Amiga. We have followed this product since its creation, reporting on each change and receiving copies of the game at various stages. Even then, I was pretty sure this was the one that would all the others to shame - including Gloom.

There are 30 levels for you to battle through, each one being hugely different, so it never appears the same. A major boon which will please Doom fanatics is the fact that you can design your own maze with different textures, doors and aliens, etc. So hopefully, Fears will never run out of lastability.

The Atmospheric sounds are fantastic, truly setting the scene and preparing you for a trip into the unknown. These noises range from the firing of several weapons to the screams of the monsters.

Incidentally, if Fears does have a down point, it's seriously the lack of originality in the monsters. Although they are well drawn, they just don't look scary enough. If you were locked in a dungeon way below the earth's surface and you had to fave the Tin Man from Wizard of Oz and The Mekon from Dan Dare, you wouldn't actually be quaking now would you.

There will be a CD32 version of the game which should be hitting the shops about now and will contain all the original features and hopefully be nicer to look and faster.

When I first played Fears on a standard 1200, it was reasonably jerky which quite obviously reflected on the detailed graphics. Although this seemed a problem, I overcame it by playing and playing away until I was so absorbed I didn't even notice - until, I managed to dig out an accelerator from the dusty cupboard. It was a Blizzard Board and playing Fears with one of these is highly recommended. The speed increases tenfold and therefore produces one of the fastest and most playable games to date.


The Atmospheric sounds are fantastic, truly setting the scene and preparing you for a trip into the unknown

The Edit facility is excellent for designing your own mazes. The actual editor looks a lot like a paint package where you drawn on screen a maze of your choice. All the platforms, stars, walls and aliens are allocated numbers so it ends up like painting by numbers.

You can define stairs leading up to small rooms just by coloring in some boxes. It really is so user-friendly you will be designing levels within minutes. A good thing I found was the fact that you can actually make a virtual world of your own house - or is that too sad?

The options allow you to toggle between difficulty levels, screen size, and all different graphical variations. You can also choose to play the part of the hero as a human or an alien.

The screen resolution that Fears uses is pretty high so you can expect a high amount of detail. However the resolution obviously isn't quite as high as Doom on the PC. To make up for this, though, the programmers have included dithering. This will blur things a little to get the look of the PC, although it actually just gives you thumping headaches and bad vision.

You can control the character in Fears in many ways - either by the mouse, keyboard or joystick. Most people prefer the keyboard because you can reach every key to open doors, side-step, change weapon and run. With the mouse it is nice and comfortable to play, but it's pretty awkward to side-step and avoid bullets.

At first you will find it impossible to avoid the shots form the opponents, but careful mastery of the side-step will enable you to dodge around the wall to prevent death.


Frustration

One major gripe that can be frustrating is the fact that if you happen to fall into a pit of lava, your health will run out and you have absolutely no chance of getting out. Some steps would have been nice, especially when you're right near the end.

I can remember getting quite frustrated with Gloom because although it had continues, there was no password or save game feature. Fears includes this so you can breathe a sigh of relief when you finally overcome a tricky part to complete the level. On a save game disk, you can save many games as well as three individually designed mazes.

Final word

The response from our survey we printed a while ago was tremendous, and form the results we noticed that many of you did actually own accelerators. If you have, you can't possibly miss out on this. If you haven't, then don't worry, it's only a tad slower.

In short, it is packed full of excellent graphics, atmospheric effects and challenging gameplay - there's no doubt that Fears is the best Doom clone ever created.



Fears logo AGA Amiga Format Gold

"Fears is truly a torchbearer, leader, inspiration and call-to-arms for legions of Amiga-gamers." Steve McGill goes all euphoric over this Doom-clone.

Fears captures just about everything that's good about computer gaming and absolutely everything that's great about the Amiga-scene in general. For it truly is a torchbearer, leader, inspiration and call-to-arms for legions of Amiga gamers, coders, artists and game publishers - past, present and future.

It pushes the standard A1200 to its limits. Take the following as an example of what Fears manages: real-time, full-screen texture mapping, optional dithering of the textures, resizing of the windows, use of the CD32 controller and that all-important 'shoot-your-friends' link-option.

So what? Who cares about technical innovations and tricks if they don't boost a game in the entertainment, longevity and value-for-money stakes? Happily, Fears is more than entertaining, offers 30 tough levels of monster-saturated mayhem and includes an editor to let the gamers create their own, completely individual custom levels.

The aim of Fears is simple. Explore an encapsulated dungeon/tower, wipe out any monsters found there, collect treasures and weapons, seek out secret doors, find the exit and then do the same thing over again, while accumulating a large score.

Fiendish layout
While maybe a bit too simplistic for the most demanding of gamers - a plot line with internal dynamics driving the action would have been excellent - I still found Fears to be lots of fun to play for many reasons.

The first of these concerned the design of the levels. Unlike Gloom, with its ground-floor-only policy and no-save option after completion of levels, the standard layout in Fears quickly becomes fiendish; whole floors can be elevated to other levels at the trip of a switch.

Some doors refuse to be opened by the standard method of bashing the spacebar, they have to be tripped from somewhere else on the level - a trip that's usually protected y all manner of nasties. Staircases make an appearance also. Every level's got at least one staircase and usually more.

Though completely and utterly welcome, in certain instances the staircases can lead to problems that quickly become infuriating. There's no option to look up or down, it's straight-ahead only. This means that on staircases which skirt the edges of rooms before descending into them, inhabitants can pick you off before you even get a chance to see who's firing at you, let alone return fire.

The only cue available is that of the incoming fire itself. Considering that seven or eight hits can more or less polish you off, it seems a tad unfair to use this particular mechanic to extend play-time. Even with a cheat-button that let me restore ammo and health to full whack, I still found it hard to make any headway on certain levels. Luckily, there are two difficulty settings to even things out.

The standard layout in Fears quickly becomes fiendish.

It's the pits
While on the subject of aggressive frustration, though, one of the features of enormous contention is that of the lava pits. Fall into one of these and you die. Believe me when I say it's all too easy to take the plunge - a dreadful waste of life. Apparently, the lava pits were a point of hot debate between Manyx, the publisher, and Bomb, the creator of Fears.

The fact that falling into a pit subtracts from your health-points at an alarming rate should be penalty enough. There should be a way of escaping, whether it be by tripping a secret staircase, reaching an elevator, or whatever, but always, always, the player must have a chance to make amends for the mistake. Otherwise it feels like the game's being spiteful.

Now, if reading the past couple of paragraphs seems to reflect on the game badly, consider this. The dividing-line between love and hate is roughly a micro thick - according to romantic scientists that is. Fears I love. That's why I hate both of the above blemishes. But don't let them put you off the game.

Quick recap
In fact, it's worth having a quick recap on why Fears is so good. Firstly, it does what many said couldn't be done on the Amiga - it puts a hot-wired, joyriding, Mad Max-ethos, full-screen version of a Doom-clone into the hands of Amiga-owners.

Secondly, it plays famously and presents gamers with a tough, pupil-dilating, breath-exhaling, tension-mounting challenge, in terms of action, excitement and playability.

Thirdly, the level-editor takes the idea of interactivity literally and puts the power of the game into the hands of those who play it.

No doubt, someone will soon come up with their own monsters and textures as well. In other words, Fears will continue to evolve as an ongoing entity.

Finally, the engine driving Fears is constantly evolving. Bomb are true Amiga-enthusiasts and hope to exploit the power inherent in accelerated Amigas. So, if you haven't bought an accelerator yet, start saving. Fears is worth it.

In a head-to-head fight between Gloom and Fears, they'd either kill each other, or would have to settle for an honourable draw. Neither is yet quite strong enough to gain a firm upper hand, although Fears with its interactive, multi-level design-element does push it slightly ahead of Gloom.

Team 17's Alien Breed 3D had better watch out; it may just have been pre-emptied by the new blood in town, Manyx and Bomb. Fears should be a compulsory purchase on every gamer's list.


GENTLEMEN, CHOOSE YOUR WEAPONS

Weapons are invariably hidden about the complexes. They use different ammo and dish out varying levels of damage. Here they are, in all their pacifying glory.

Fears
Chainsaw - Close quarters combat weapon. Inflicts heavy damage on anything willing or unwilling to tangle with it.

Fears
Machine Gun - Good meaty machine gun sound. Falls silent too quickly when you stop firing.

Fears
Plasma Gun - Impressive in the damage-stakes. Just about the perfect weapon to take on any dungeon denizen.

Fears
Rocket Launcher - While the damage is impressive, it would have been better if the sound-effects backed up on its firing with some grungy explosions.

Fears
Shotgun - The weapon you start off with. You tend to feel safer with weapons with a bit more clout.

Fears
Dagger - It's a token weapon to stop you feeling naked and vulnerable. If you have to use it, you're in trouble.


HERE'S ONE I MADE EARLIER

Being able to design your own complexes is a terrific idea. It not only gives the purchaser a high value-for-money quotient, it also adds greater variety and strategy to link-games.

Fears
Creatures Place - Decide from here the various monsters' patrol area. Lets you designate as many bad guys as you want.

Fears
Advanced Editor - As the title suggests, complex layouts and designs are drafted from this screen.

Fears
Baddies - There aremore monsters than this in the full game. You're limited to use eight tough guys, though.

Fears
Editor - Simple layouts and designs are crafted from here. It's best to use this editor to familiarise yourself with the various complexities of use.

Fears
Textures - Choose your wall coverings, ceiling- and floor-designs from this screen. Quite a bit of work is involved, but it's worth it.


Fears logo Amiga Joker Hit AGA

Im Preview zu diesem Spiel hatten wir uns gefragt, ob die ersten wirklich überzeugenden 3D-Ballerdungeons für den Amiga wohl aus Frankreich kommen würden. Das fertige Testmuster liefert nun die Antwort, und sie lautet ganz klar: ja!

Das traurige Amiga-Monopol der schmucklosen 3D-Höhlen von "Death Mask" und "Behind the Iron Gate" ist damit vergessen, genau wie nun niemand mehr neidisch auf die DOSen und ihre verdoomt viele Vertreter des Genres zu schielen braucht: Mit Fears haben die französischen Newcomer von Bomb Software (deren Vertrieb in Deutschland die "Schwarze Augen" von Attic besorgen) soft scrollende Texture-Labyrinthe abgeliefert, die sich nicht vor ihren PC-Vorbildern verstecken müssen!

Ganz im Gegenteil, denn wo Ids Genregründer (die beiden "Doom"-Teile) unnötig brutal und deshalb längst indiziert sind, verzichtet Fears auf ein geschmackloses Blutbad, ohne deshalb an Spannung einzubüßen.

Extra für Deutschland haben die ehemaligen Demologen um Frederic Heintz menschenähnliche Gegner aus den Dungeons verbannt und die gesamte Optik etwas entschärft, auf daß kein Ketchup-Fleck an der Wand und kein übel zugerichteter Leichnam am Boden die Jugendschützer auf den Plan rufen möge.

Unbelastet von schlechtem Gewissen oder einer nennenswerten Vorgeschichte findet sich der Spieler also mit zunächst nur einem Dolch bewaffnet in düsteren Gewölben wieder, um sich auf die Pirsch nach Doppelrohr-Flinten, Flammenwerfern, gewaltigen Maschinengewehren weiteren Extrawaffen sowie der dazu passenden Munition zu machen denn Feinde sind auch nach der Überarbeitung noch genügend übriggeblieben.

Aber nicht allein sacht schwebende Beholder, flinke Roboter, ausdauernde Tentakelmonster und anderes Getier machen dem Wanderer das Leben schwer, sondern auch kleine Rätsel der Marke "Welcher Schalter öffnet welches Tor?". Trotzdem ist es in erster Linie der erstaunlichen Intelligenz der Gegner zu verdanken, daß hier Könner ge- und Neulinge womöglich sogar überfordert sind.

Auseinanderzusetzen hat man sich nämlich zudem mit drei teils screenfüllenden Obermotzen und dem labyrinthischen Level-Aufbau voll von imposanten Hallen, Säureseen, Lavapools, Geheimräumen, engen Korridoren und verwinkelten Treppenfluren.

Diese gelungene Mischung macht das Spiel aber auch so packend, da man wirklich nie weiß, was wohl hinter der nächsten Ecke lauern mag. Und so ist es nicht immer einfach, zu entscheiden, ob man nun besser schnell vorprescht und die Umgebung mit MG-Feuer belegt oder lieber vorsichtig späht und dem Gegner eine gezielte Rakete entgegentreibt...

Doch halten die Energievorräte und damit die digitalen Leben doch einigen Fehlentscheidungen stand, außerdem darf ja der Spielstand immer wieder mal gespeichert werden.

Weitere Unterstützung erhält man durch ein praktisches Automapping und zusätzliche Energierationen, für die allerdings erst die entsprechenden Icons zu finden sind. Und wer gar über einen Mitspieler sowie einen zweiten Amiga verfügt, darf per Nullmodem-Connection auch zu zweit durch die 30 Abschnitte streifen.

Übrigens brauchen die hiesigen Söldner auch nach erfolgreich absolvierten Endkampf nicht in Rente zu gehen, da ein simpel zu handhabender Editor das Erstellen und Austesten eigener Spielstufen zum schieren Vergnügen macht.

Doch nicht nur das Gameplay vermag zu überzeugen, die Steuerung per Tastatur, Stick und Maus ist ebenfalls ganz vorzüglich geraten. Dafür, daß es auf den Ballermärschen auch viel und Schönes zu sehen gibt, garantiert wiederum die Spezialisierung auf den AGA-Chipsatz: Bereits auf einem A1200 mit etwas Fast-RAM unter der Haube fließt die auf den Screenshots vielleicht etwas grobpixelig wirkende, in Bewegung aber wegen ihrer Farbenpracht und den sanften Abschattierungen vollauf überzeugende 3D-Umgebung in einem Tempo am Auge des Betrachters vorbei, daß selbst eine topmoderne 64-Bit-Konsole wie Ataris Jaguar kaum mithält - mit Turbokarte wird gar noch ein Zahn zugelegt.

Die Boden- oder Wandtexturen abschalten bzw. die Größe des Sichtfensters reduzieren müssen daher allenfalls Besitzer eines nachten 1200ers. Sie können's aber auch sein lassen, denn das dezente Ruckeln auf der Standard-Konfiguration vermag den Spielspaß kaum zu schmälern.

Und Spielspaßbietet Fears wirklich in der Familienpackung: Bei düsterer Titelmusik und unheimlichen Klängen in den Gängen kommt eine derart irrwitzige Atmosphäre auf, daß es weder das angekündigte "Alien Breed 3D" von Team 17 noch Black Legends kommende "Switchworld" leicht haben wird, diesen Konkurrenten zu übertrumpfen.

Erst recht nicht, wenn die hiesigen Coder ihr Versprechen wahrmachen und die geplante CD-Version noch weiter aufbohren! (rl)


DIE DUNGEON-MISERE

Warum schwappt die am PC seit langem populäre Dungeon-Welle eigentlich erst jetzt langsam zum Amiga? Nun, vor allem wegen der hier üblichen Art der Grafikverwaltung: Während auf der VGA-Karte einer DOSe jeder Bildschirmpunkt exakt ein Byte repräsentiert und daher vom Prozessor schnell zu bearbeiten ist (was gerade bei sehr rechen- bzw. zeichenintensiver 3D-Optik ein dickes Plus ist), verteilt sich ein einzelnes Amiga-Pixel auf bis zu acht voneinander unabhängige Grafikebenen. Das ist gut für Speicherverwaltung, Sprites und Parallax-Scrolling, bedeutet aber, daß die CPU pro Punkt bis zu 16 Bytes lesen und schreiben muß - trotz Unterstützung durch den Blitter-Chip gerät der Amiga da schnell ins HIntertreffen. Gottlob wurden aber kürzlich in der Demoszene Software-Techniken entwickelt, die auf AGA-Rechnern mit Hilfe des Amiga-Customchips Copper einen VGA-ähnlichen Modus emulieren.



Fears logo AGA

FD Roosevelt once said something about fearing fear itself. He was right. Fear Fears.

CUE TITLES: Fast-cutting establishing shots of 19th century Munich, Ironside-style music. Words drift lazily down to centre of screen as title: Beethoven - Badge 417. Words become pellucid as title sequence unfolds behind. Throughout, red crosshair target slides purposefully across screen, trying to draw a bead of Beethoven's head. Fast cuts: Beethoven skinning across bonnet of car, gun in hand; Beethoven in street, directing tourist with huge map, Beethoven pounding away on piano; Beethoven diving to catch dropped phial of deadly virus; Beethoven dancing furiously in strobe-lit nightclub;

Beethoven conducting 80-piece orchestra, turning to wink at girl in front row; Beethoven jumping for the skids of risking helicopter but missing and falling off a building; Beethoven squatting down to sign the manuscript of Fidelio for a little girl; Beethoven pulling himself out of a swimming pool fully-clothed, grinning ruefully. Crosshair settles over final pic and stylised bullet-holes spatter across the screen.

CAPTION: Lee Horsely is:
CAPTION: Beethoven - Badge 417.
CAPTION: Tonight's episode - Murder's Not For Amateurs.
(Streets of 19th century Munich, Burgermeister strides past, followed by Beethoven.)

BURGERMEISTER: Dammit, Beethoven, you know I can't do that.
BEETHOVEN: C'mon, Bill. You haven't a chance of solving this without me.
BURGERMEISTER: No, Beethoven. No. The last time you helped out, we had a convent blown up and 16 casualties - including my wife.
BEETHOVEN: Goddammit, Bill - he was my partner.

(Burgermeister stops suddenly.)
BURGERMEISTER (Stabbing with forefinger in emphasis): No way, Beethoven. We're all sorry about Spielz, but you're a loose cannon. You don't take orders. The department can't afford another media crucifixion. Beethove, you're off the case.

BEETHOVEN (freezingly): Sorry, Bill - but I don't hear you.
(He drives off in a fast car, tyres squealing.)
But anyway.

SAFER
Fears is a maddening game. On the one hand it's a stunning technical achievement, combining fast full-screen Doom clonage with stairways, lifts, rivers of acid, sinister lighting and near-sublimal sound to create a fantastically scary atmosphere; on the other it's hateful to a frightening degree. There was never a moment in the game when I was genuinely, freely enjoying myself, lost in it, believe in it, ducking when rocket shots roared over my head and bellowing a suitable movie quote as I won a tensely mismatched battle.

Not once. And that is clearly terribly, terribly wrong.
A heck of a lot of this wrongness is to do with the monsters and the way they 'handle'. You'll always be opening doors suddenly to receive fireballs in the face as, STRANGELY, the monsters have UNERRINGLY LUCKILY guessed when you're approaching.

A few goes furnish the answer: if they're close enough not to be concealed by the dark fringes of the screen (a spectacular beautiful effect, as the corridor before you fades into terrifying nothingness almost as if you're carrying a torch or something) the monsters know exactly where you are. You might not be able to see them - say, they're at the bottom of a flight of steps, or in the pit of a lift - but THEY KNOW WHERE YOU ARE. You'll never really be fighting just the one - even if that's the only one you can see - because others will be pouring fire into you as you writhe helplessly. And that's rubbish.

As is, indeed, the way the monsters rip bullets at you until dead. Slam rounds into the monsters in Gloom and they recoil wounded, their aim thrown and their senses scrambled for a few vital moments. In Fears, a monster will continue to fire, speedily and accurately, unconcerned by your retaliatory shots, up to their death. (Even, in fact, as their death animation plays, because until it's finished the game doesn't acknowledge them as dead. I'm not making this up).

And you can't plan to avoid them. A fatuous omission of such a sound-clever game is a 'wandering monster' noise, or a trumpet of joy as they spot you. (How hard could it have been to add even, say, a sound for the bullets missing you and flying by?) Thundering around the complex, the first you know of a monster is the thwup-thwup of its bullets making your screen go orange. You have no warning.

A third naughty thing is the way Fears cheats with height. There are indeed stairs and lifts, but the game sees everything as 'flat'. - if you fire directly at a monster you'll hit it, regardless of your respective vertical positions. (There is in fact a hierarchy to height; if there are monsters above and ahead, you'll automatically shoot at the lower ones first. Gee, thanks.)

It's a common cheat in Doom games (Gloom leaves well alone by not bothering with stairs to start with) and would be perfectly acceptable were it not for two things: the monsters KNOWING WHERE YOU ARE (remember, being atop a tottering ledge or, indeed, behind a wall is no obstacle to their seeing you) and the inescapable rivers of lava.. By all means, have drains full of killer acid swirling ominously about the base of the towering maze for the unwary player to plunge into, but GIVE THEM A CHANCE TO ESCAPE.

Fears, incredibly, has complicated, twisting tunnels of acid - sometimes containing extra ammo and tantalizing bonuses - but absolutely no way of getting back to dry land. Fall down and, no matter how excitingly fast you run, you will die. What's the reason for not having put in a lift, or a button to make a drawbridge come down? The game alienates you as you struggle through a level, fall off a ledge (sometimes through no fault of your own OF WHICH MORE LATER) and lose everything. And that's abominable. Especially as you you realise you can't see down a steep flight of steps.

Yes folks, at points in the game you're walking blind, painfully aware that a movement too far at the bend in the stairway will drop you straight in the lava. (and there's no 'give' at all in corners: while you might reasonably expect to get away with cutting slightly across the diagonal, Fears gives no quarer: down you go.)

There's even, God forgive them, a bit where you see a staircase to a button that is, in fact, concealing a gap. What the hell's going on?

FARES
This is what I think is going on: the playtesters are too close to the game. They are, I'll hazard, the programmers. It doesn't matter to them that the monsters' bullets are so fast you have little to no chance to avoid them by sidestepping. Nor do they think much of the extensive ledge-based action which utterly negates the sidestep: use it, and you fall off.

Nor, indeed, of the boggling width of your 'body' (it appeared that every shot to hit the screen counted as hitting me, with no accounting for the bullets actually having whizzed safely past on one side). They've been playing Fears for ages, you see, and they're used to it.

Well, chums, I played Fears for ages, and at no point did I become used to it. At all times I was horribly aware it was a computer game, and that I couldn't, for example, rush thrillingly through the level because I'd just fall off something and die, or get caught in a six-way crossfire and die, or step upon what I took to be another stair and fall through and die.

Minor faults, like the non-real-time map (you should always, always in this kind of game be able to run around using the map because the levels are so fiendishly complicated - and Fears' are phenomenally fiendish) blew up to catastrophic proportions.

A promise to myself not to use the cheat mode until I'd completely, utterly played it out fairly collapsed around level five (there are thirty) and I pottered among the rest of the game finding out it was dismaying similar throughout: rooms with lots of doors, monsters immediately behind the doors, ledges to other rooms and lots of falling. Oh, and what's the point of having as a fun-packed hidden weapon a circular saw if every monster acts in exactly the same way and shoots you from a distance? Let's stop and do some good stuff.

FSAER
There's a tremendous level editor in Fears that's dead easy to use (everything's based on coloured squares) and fun to play around with. This is decidedly a Good Thing, and beefs up the longevity of the game. A pity you can't alter the way the monsters 'think', but there you go.

There's a (serial link only) 'deatmatch' game in there, but even though it's a huge step beyond Gloom's, - different weapons instead of balls of light - thre's still no feeling of terror at stumbling across your better-armed opponent because whatever he's carrying, he looks the same.

Also, there's no feeling you're someone: no blobs of blood blasting off them, or ricochets or anything - fault, indeed, of the game proper. There is, in short, no visceral (erk) 'vavoom!' to the game. (So much, then, for a selection of Good Thing).

Fears is enormously more clever than Gloom, but I undoubtedly prefer the latter game for IT IS FUN! Fears, to my mind, fails on all levels but the aesthetic; it's hopelessly unfair as a zap game (you never look forward to a fight) and ludicrously uphill as an exploration game (if you don't fall to your death you'll be baffled by the alikeness of the walls and fiddly map and go in circles for ages).

I grew from smirking fraternally at its faults to hating having to load it up and play. By all means slather over this proper Doom - but on the Amiga, ignore me completely and add 50 or 60 per cent to the score, but you will, of course, be wrong.


I'VE FALLEN, AND I CAN'T GET UP

Fears has, on the whole, a bizarre approach to being a game. Things you see all the time - doors for example, and walls - are wearyingly alike; while that which you see but only briefly, BEFORE DYING WITH NO CHANCE OF ESCAPE, is extraordinarily beautiful. Like this.
RIGHT: Viscous, tidal, soupy - it is the Acid of Champions.
BELOW: While this has a cooler, calmer altogether fresher feel to it.
BELOW RIGHT: And this is frankly unpleasant.
BUT ALL OF IT KILLS. Ruthlessly.

Fears
Fears Fears

GIDDYING HEIGHTS OF SUCCESS

You may perhaps not believe it, but here I am descending a staircase. It is impossible to see where the stairs are, and this particular staircase has a bend in the middle. One step too far and I plunge into acid. Oh dear.

Fears
CAN'T... QUITE... REACH

Let's up hope Fears does not succumb to the evil temptation to place vital objects across shallow pools of acid, eh?

Fears

OOO, MONSTERS

The monsters in Fears are a disparate bunch. But, somehow, there is a link detectable between them. Can you, the readers, in a manner similar to viewers of TV's famous Sesame Street, spot it?

Fears
This monsters moves blindly forwards, shuffling to get on a line with you, shooting accurately all the while.

Fears
Moving forwards blindly, this monster shuffles to get on a line with you all the while accurately shooting.

Fears
Shuffling to get on a line with you, this monster moves forwards blindly, shooting all the while accurately.

Fears
Accurately shooting all the while, this monster shuffles to get on a line with you, blindly moving forward.

Fears
in blindly shooting on a line, this accurate monster gets to shuffle all the while forwards. with you.

Fears
Etc.



Fears logo AGA

Price: £29.99 Publisher: Manyk 01302 890 000

Fears is not a good name for a game. But will gameplay triumph over wordplay? Let's visit the world of Doom.

CU Amiga Magazine was the first magazine I ever wrote for, so I've still got a mile-wide soft spot for Commodore's best. That was back in 1987 (the mag was then called Commodore User) and the Amiga had just appeared. Shortly afterwards it had conquered the world as the best all-round computer on the planet. In the meantime the PC made do with paltry four-colour CGA war games where one block encountered another and whoever had the highest number came out best.

Doom patrol
But then Doom changed the face of PC and, indeed, computer gaming forever. Nothing that came before could compare to it and, for the first time in its life, the Amiga floundered. Now I'm not biased against any machines (unless it's an Amstrad) but even I thought the Amiga was ready to kick the bucket and take its place, lyre and all, in computer heaven.
That was until Gloom and Alien Breed 3D.

Sure, these were nowhere as technically accomplished as Doom, but for the technology, the price of the hardware and the demands made on the machine by these games' programmers, both of these were in a league of their own.

Then along comes something like Fears. It's a typical example of a bunch of people trying to jump on a bandwagon that is clearly moving too fast for them. They've seen the Amiga producing worthy 'clones' of Doom, but it seems like explaining the concept of Doom games to them is like explaining quantum chromo-dynamics to a haddock.

You see, they've completely missed the plot. Alien Breed 3D and Gloom both trade on atmosphere. It's that 'what's around the next corner' feeling that makes them so amazingly playable. You don't know what's going to pop up next. You're under-armed, you're alone and if your pants aren't up to the job it's time to put your jeans in for a service wash.

Fears, on the other hand, looks like the programmers had come up with what they thought was a decent 3D engine and never looked any further.

They've ripped off Doom's graphics and they've tried to rip-off the playability. If it had been done well, they'd have been laughing. But they haven't. With Fears Manyk has created a game which doesn't get the player involved to any extent.

All the way through I was simply concentrating on finding the exit. It wasn't a matter of survival and it didn't even reach the level of puzzle solving. I simply wandered round, wasted a few blobby creatures and either died, or went to the next stage.

Death, eh?
Fundamentally that's what this type of game is about. But there wasn't a single time I felt genuinely sorry I had died. When you're ambushed by half-a-dozen critters in AB3D, you can feel annoyed. It simply wants you want to go back and waste them. Here, though, you just feel 'What the heck, I'll have another crack because the next level might be better'.

Unfortunately the subsequent stages offer precious little else and all the time you're fully aware that you're pounding away on an Amiga keyboard and not actually engaged in a set-of-your-pants fight for survival.

It isn't helped by the fact that you're attacked by pink octopuses and green dwarfs which look like escapees from the Roswell incident. It's more laughable than suspenseful. I'm all for progression, but I'd rather be running away from someone in tight trousers and a chainsaw than facing girly coloured sub-aquatic molluscs.

On top of all this is the grade-A cruddy head-to-head mode. When you encounter the other player, you get no indication that he's firing at you, presumably because they couldn't be bothered with the extra graphics. He just stands there, arms by his side, and the only time you realise you're being shot is when your energy starts going down.

Neither is there any indication that you're hitting him. When I was playing against Alan I had to shout out 'are you losing any energy?'I genuinely thought the game had crashed and we weren't hitting each other. If that doesn't such like a kid with a McDonalds' milkshake, then I don't know what does.

Constructo-gameplay
The only real redeeming factor in Fears is the level designer. Hopefully, you should be able to create better levels, but why bother? The point about buying a game is to be entertained, not having to toil constructing your own far more interesting levels.

After writing this semi-diatribe, I can't help but feel that I sound a bit too harsh towards Fears. But then, after playing Breed 3D I don't see the point in this game. It's technically well put together, but the gameplay's all wrong. Because of that I can't recommend it, although it's also impossible to really mark it badly because it's not a truly bad product. Put it right at the bottom of your Doom clone list though.


Speed Traps

With a game like this, the performance capabilities of your Amiga can make a big difference as to how much you actually enjoy it.

A1200: Fears is a tough game to play on a standard A1200. The frame rate's low, even on the smallest screen size, and it loses even more of the atmosphere. It really isn't worth bothering with if this is how you're going to have play it.

ACCELERATED A1200: Fast, smooth and you'd could be forgiven for thinking it's Doom. Playing it tells a different story. The speed and visuals give way to the comical playability an dyou'll soon regret loading it.

A4000: If you don't have a 50Mhz accelerator, this is the only other machine worth playing Fears on. Actually, it's not worth playing Fears on any machine when you could buy Alien Breed 3D or Gloom instead.

TOP GUN

So which Doom clone is the one for you? Four contenders have a stake and, well, technically, they're all decent enough.

ALIEN BREED 3D: My personal favourite. Yes, I'm a sad Aliens devotee, but this is also a brilliant game with relentless pace, constant threats, enemies you can actually be afraid of and a good two-player combat mode.

GLOOM: Slightly more traditional when it comes to Doom-a-likes. Which, for me at least, is the only reason to buy it ahead of Alien Breed. I don't think it's as cerebrally involving, but there's lots to shoot.

FEARS: Bottom of the pile and not by accident. I can't think of any reason why you should go for this game instead of the other two. The other contender is >Citadel, but haven't played it yet.