Title Breathless (Second Review) Game Type 3D Action Company Fields of Vision/Power Computing Ltd Players 1 Compatibility AGA Submission Jason Compton This Amiga Report review appears here by courtesy of Jason Compton Review Doom, doom, doom. There's no denying it. The focus of the game development in 1995 was on Doom-ish games, whether or not a whole lot actually made it to the market. Around the time everyone was getting excited about Alien Breed 3D, from out of nowhere a demo started making its way around the net. The game was Breathless, so we were told, and the demo was an old one of the game's texturemapping 3D engine. The developers, Fields of Vision, quickly found a publisher in Power Computing of the UK. It comes in a purplish box, with your typical mega-suited up gun-slinging texturemapping game hero and some screenshots on the back. That's the preliminaries. But the storyline, background, etc. of these games are always pretty unimportant when they first arrive. So a quick hard drive installation later, Breathless is up and running. So, how does it play? Well, the engine is a rather flexible one, allowing control over screen resolution ranging from teeny-tiny-you've-gotta-be-kidding up to 320x200 (out of x256, this is of course PAL we're talking about here), with available pixel widths of 1x1, 2x1, 1x2, and 2x2. The bottom of the screen is taken up with your score, health, shield, weapon energy, and weaponry/key indicators. So, how does the game LOOK? Had you caught me with the stock Breathless release, I would have shrugged. The game was playable in reduced resolutions on a stock A4000/040, but certainly nothing exciting in a high resolution with a high pixel clarity. The control felt sterile, the configurability was only acceptable. Fortunately for this review's outcome, FOV released a Breathless V1.1 patch to Aminet. This has increased the output of the engine, added inertia to the player's movements (the lack of which caused the aforementioned sterile feeling), and in general made the game more configurable. So, how is it to play? Well, your job is to blast away at bad guys with a selection of increasingly nasty weaponry. You upgrade said weapons and buy new ones by collecting credit globes that happen to be lying around the levels you chug through. There are computer terminals throughout the levels ready to vend you these weapons, health, even keys if you can't find them. (Perhaps the evil bad guys should remove these conveniences, they'd have an easier time defeating you.) There are a dozen different aliens to blast, and after a short while you'll be sick of killing "Cyborg 1"s. Automapping is provided, as is a sight in the middle of the screen which may be turned off. It comes in handy when shooting up or down (you look up or down using the numeric keypad. The movement in this respect is considerably improved from the original Breathless in the 1.1 patch.) I was a bit disappointed in the number of times the shots seemed not to reach their target even when they were standing dead in my sights, though. The math on the "look up/look down" routines may not quite be perfect yet. Breathless' engine supports varying light, which at times can put you in rather dark and grey looking corridors. They also tried to support a bit of realistic detail in the form of floor-to-ceiling pipes, but again, the calculations fell a bit short, as the pipes look two-dimensional as they meet the floor. Weaponry could have been a bit more "realistic" as well. Errant shots simply disappear as they hit the wall, and the Cyborg 1 units seem to have silencers on their plasma guns. But those complaints don't detract from the fact that Breathless is a fast world to whip around in, providing your Amiga is equipped for the task. While 320x200 1x1 pixel depth is too much for the stock 040/25 to give a reasonable frame rate on, kicking the resolution down a notch or switching to 2x1 or 1x2 (my preferred of the two, although things can look a bit fringed at times) helps considerably. There have been reports that Breathless is stunningly slow (slower than an 030/50) on an 060, but as we haven't received any 060 accelerators yet, we can't verify this. I do enjoy running around the Breathless world, blasting away at the baddies. I find the speed tolerable, the background music (with configurable volume) appropriate, and the goal of getting to one more level enough to keep me coming back for a while. And of course, it's encouraging to see that the game continues to be developed and supported by FOV. What Breathless really needs, though, is a bit more atmosphere. Yes, it's a vague complaint, but right down to the stainless steel walls, Breathless is missing the spark that even AB3D's 2x2 chunky display had. I'm not sure I really CARE about this guy's struggle, particularly when all he needs to do is break open the gun vending machine to really wreak some havok. Improved sound effects (and more of them) would work wonders. Copy protection is a bit weird. It's red writing on orange paper, not easy to read. It's on a small card, which is another problem...and it's in runes! Numerical or letter protection is difficult enough, but tiny runes are another thing altogether. The game IS hard drive installable, but you have to fight with a teeny little card to get to your game. If you're toting an accelerated AGA Amiga and want to get a lot of shooting done, Breathless is a good investment. It's missing networking, which is a real loss because some levels would make for good deathmatches. It's missing that sense of style mentioned above. But it does have a very good, and growing, TMap engine that I would be pleased to see in other implementations. Breathless also was good for a couple of chuckles, but not for the game itself. The manual speaks of the planet "C64-6510", an obvious reference. The registration card lists "Magazine Review" in the "Where did you get this game?" list. I guess the publishers want us to register more often.