Friday, 19 August 2011

Fears (Amiga) - Guest Post

Hey mecha-neko! If you're such a big Amiga buff, why don't you show us an Amiga FPS?

I'll share with you Fears...

Before we go on, if you want a giggle, check out an actual real box picture for Fears (Lemon Amiga link).

Bet you weren't expecting him, were ya?

"Similarly to Frankenstein of older times, Professor Bloodheart believes that by the use of genetic engineering he can manipulate creatures to become his allies in his quest for world domination."

"He has installed himself within a dark and complex tower of secret rooms and passages guarded by the unfortunate mutations of his experiments."

"Captured by Professor Bloodheart you have escaped from his cluthes."

"Your mission is to fight your way through hordes of his mutants ever onwards towards your final confrontation with the mad professor himself..."
Sadly, no narration, only text. I've heard worse reasons to party, let's go!

Silence on the map screen. Level one is the filing cabinet in the bottom right.

Red blob monsters! My shotgun makes a feeble bang and vibrates slightly. There's no reload animation (or any animations at all). It's fully automatic, firing both barrels at once, but it only uses one ammo unit at a time.

There's no music in Fears. There's a mechanical clicking sound that sounds like a photocopier and a discordant low pitched sawtooth synth.

I can barely tell the difference between living and dead red blob monsters.

They don't have any animation when they're alive and they don't make much noise either. The only way to tell is to wait and see if it shoots you.

It's GamesMaster!

He's as feeble as the red monsters. Every attack only takes 1 Health off me so they're going to have to surround me if they want to do any real damage.

It's easy to be a snob and knock these graphics. The resolution of the 3D section is 92 x 128, but it's more than enough to get the point across.

Besides, if you were playing this on an Amiga plugged into a lousy portable TV using an RF lead, it would look more like this:

And that's fine!

You can't increase the resolution, but you can make the visible window smaller or turn off the ceiling or floor textures if they're making it run slow. There's an option to have parallelogram pixels instead of square, if you like it all jaggly.

One up! I can't jump, but lava's no problem for me.

Is this the first FPS I've played that has lives? How unusual!

I picked up some ammo for a different weapon, but I either don't have the other weapon yet or I can't figure out how to switch to it. This is my backup weapon. It's a push pin! My guy must be three inches tall!

Ahh! I'm a Borrower! That's why Professor Bloodheart wants to capture me! That also explains why I had to escape his 'cluthes'. It's a Scottish thing.

There's no attack animation for the thumbtack. He just shakes it up and down. I imagine it's as damaging as it looks.

Great big old exit switch. Victory is mine!

That was simple enough. There were lots of blob monsters, but they didn't ever seem to take much damage off me. There were health kits everywhere. It is the first level after all.

Level two! Same textures!

The first level was cramped and I couldn't tell where I was going because all the rooms were evenly lit and looked the same. Now I'm outside and I can't see two feet in front of my face. The game can't win! Off the edges of the walkway is lava. Of course.

If only I had a map!

I have a map! It's already better than all those other games that don't have a map.

It seems Fears can only do Wolfenstein-like box maps, but that's more than enough to have a good time.

I can't tell what kind of enemy this is supposed to be.

It might be great big pile of dog crap on a floating platform. Stay the hell away.

Damn! I've fallen into a small pool of lava on the top of one of the towers and I can't get out!

It took me a while to realise I was in lava because there's no indication that you're being damaged other than your health going down slowly. I've looked all around the edge of the pit and I can't find any exit ramps or lifts or anything. That's stupid! Doom almost always includes an escape route and even puts bonuses in its lava pits!

There goes that 1-up...

Hey, I reappeared at the start of the level but the enemies are still all dead! That is a relief!

Ugh, even when there's nothing on the screen, the frame rate is atrocious.

Level three, here we go!

There's no passwords between levels, but the game does offer to save. I hope you remembered to have a formatted disk ready!

I made the mistake of pressing Escape to try to change the controls or the resolution and that immediately gives you a full game over. I had to start all the way from the start again. Unlike the other '90s FPS protagonists, Fearsguy's left his rocket-powered roller skates at home. I'm lucky the levels are quite small. If I'd got further in the game, I'd be a tad more upset.

I wonder how many nearly-complete games have been nixed by kid brothers or sisters tapping Escape idly.

The GamesMaster and a red blob monster conspire across a chasm. I'll get you guys. Someday.

Gah! Backed up off the walkway and into the lava pit! 90 health points is plenty of time to explore the pit fully before I melt and there is no sign of an escape route. No sign of anything whatsoever, in fact.

Would you believe the barrels don't explode?

I'm still stuck with this strange shotgun. I haven't yet found the second or third weapons. They must be really super special to be kept secret.

DAMN IT AGAIN. Well, that's that.

The monsters are out. Sinister music.

Cheer up, it's not as dire as it seems. The monsters themselves were more or less harmless! It's the lava you've got to worry about.

I'll let you in on a secret. I found Fears to be pretty creepy. It's not a scary game and it's not a particularly exciting game, but the limitations of the Amiga mean that whatever the game decides to throw at you is going to be unlike anything you've seen before. Everything is so stretched or distorted that my senses just give up and assume that it's supposed to be scary way before my brain can step in and say that it's just a coloured splat or a photocopier sound sample. My reaction to anything is "WAAAAAAAA!!...aaaaaaat is that supposed to be?"

I could just be tired.

I wonder what happened to BOMB Software. Did Fears make them rich and famous? Are they crazed and bitter? Did they fall into an inescapable lava pit? I want to know!

I also need to mention that Fears includes its own level editor! Therefore it's officially the Amiga analogue to TimeSplitters. Except it's crap.

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