Title Breathless Game Type 3D Action Players 1 Compatibility AGA Submission John Haas (firstname.lastname@example.org) Review Breathless was one of the first wave of "Doom clones" along with Alien Breed 3D, Fears, Gloom, and (a bit later) Nemac IV. I must confess that it became my personal favorite by far, so you can rightly assume that this will be a very favorable review. I will, however, try to be as objective as possible and describe its shortcomings as well. The game is hard drive installable and will run only on AGA machines which brings us to the first shortcoming--graphics card support. This was a blunder that seriously affected sales for sure. Also a non-AGA AND non-graphics card version would probably have been a good idea. Nemac IV, for example, runs nicely on any Amiga. In any event, sales were not good enough to inspire the programming team to create a sequel, a real shame. The 3D engine is marvelous and was quite playable on my A1200 which had a mere '030/25 CPU at that time. It will run on less horsepower than this but I wouldn't recommend it. Movement is very smooth and, unlike games such as Nemac IV, does not seem to slow down noticeably no matter how much action is happening on the screen. It even multitasks with the operating system very well. The screen size is customizable as is the resolution. Finding the right combination of these two will take a bit of experimenting but must be done to get the frame rate sufficiently high. This is one of the main keys to enjoying this game. Breathless has copy protection in the form of a red sheet (so as to be uncopyable) with hundreds of four symbol codes on it. This is rather annoying as this sheet is very hard to read. If it were to get lost, destroyed, etc., you'd be out of business. The player must fight his way through four "worlds" with 5 arenas on each world in order to escape the clutches of the aliens. The arenas are massive and complex but there is a very useful mapping feature to help you navigate. The objective of each arena is to solve the puzzles and find the exit which will take you to the next arena. As is usual in this type of game, you wander about finding things (keys, shields, energy, health, etc.). You also find coins (credits) which accumulate and can be used in exchange for all sorts of things. These include the above four items and, most importantly, more powerful weapons and enhancements for them. The further you get into the game, the more powerful the weapons you will need. When I first started playing the game, I was spending all the credits on shields, health and energy, just to stay alive. The credits would never accumulate, so that I could get the necessary weaponry. Later as I got better and a bit more clever, I was able to acquire the killer weapons. This is another of the secrets to winning the game. By game's end, you must have either a boosted Magnetic Gun or a Death Machine (either boosted or unboosted) in order to win (in my experience anyway). A boosted Death Machine is really a blast! The flame thrower I found to be totally useless. Another criticism of the game is that the player's weapon is not visible on the screen as in most every other first person game. This wasn't a big deal to me but was to others. The player has only an optional crosshair to work with. Another difference between Breathless and nearly all the other Doom clones is that you must also aim the weapon with respect to elevation. It does not "auto-aim" as do AB3D, Nemac IV and even Doom itself. This adds to the challenge of the game but put off a lot of people. The worlds are varied as are the creatures you'll encounter. Sometimes you'll find your- self outside in the daylight and sometimes in dark passageways and rooms. There are traps and puzzles everywhere. I found one level to have two possible solutions. You'll encounter a dozen different entities, some living, some robotic. These include beings which are humanoid-like, gorilla-like, devil-like, alien-like, and floating heads that look like the Borg from Star Trek fame. Also a couple of robots including one similar to the one in the movie RoboCop.. Gameplay came under some criticism. It has been described by some as stodgy or wooden. I must say it is different from its peers but once the player acclimatizes himself, it plays quite well. Player control is very configurable, keyboard, mouse and joystick are all supported. Some experimentation may be necessary to find the right feel. My favorite configuration is a combination of joystick and keyboard. In summary, Breathless is superb in almost every respect. I absolutely recommend it. It's challenging but the difficulty curve is well thought out. There were the usual situations which seemed impossible but solutions were found to all of them ....eventually. It definitely has mood and atmosphere and the excellent, optional background music adds to this. The graphics are exceptional and full-screen mode at the highest resolution (for you lucky ones with high-powered Amigas) is amazing.