Title Zombie Massacre Game Type 3D Action Company Alpha Software/Islona Entertainment/Epic Marketing,1997-1998) Players 1 or 2 Compatibility AGA, 10mb RAM, hard drive, CD; faster processor recommended" HD Installable Yes Submission Brian Horner (email@example.com) Review Please note, Part One of the following review explains just how tricky Zombie Massacre can be to install, and how to overcome the problems. Part Two onwards deals with the gameplay itself. PART ONE: TROUBLING TIMES We have been fortunate to have the excellent JST and WHDload utilities, which allow us to run a plethora of old 3.5 disk games on the A1200/A4000 with ease and to install them on the hard drive. Before these, you could only expect to play many of your favourites on the earlier Amigas with the OCS/ECS chips. To come upon an AGA, CD-only release that is causing difficulties right at the beginning like some old piece of software is certainly discouraging. To play the game right from the CD, you need to have a little drawer placed on the hard drive. That will contain a small amount of configuration data and it's just fine -- except the installation is terrible. You use the regular "Installer" program that you are accustomed to, but it will overwrite the following files...even if you let the installer know that that it is to ask you first about what to do before taking any action. - ASL.library - MathTrans.library - IconX (copied to "C") - Say (copied to "C"; mine is not even in that location, so I just erased it) - Narrator.device - Translator.library The major problem concerns the "ASL.library" and "MathTrans.library". The first was updated in OS 3.5 and further for 3.9; the second, while not updated by Amiga, has been updated by a third party in a free download on the Aminet. I use the "TurboMathTrans" library ("tmathtrans.lha" from Aminet). I had to download that again and put it back in my "LIBS" drawer. "Narrator.device"/"Translator.library" haven't been with the OS for quite some time, yet I still have them on my hard drive since a few old games do use them for Amiga-generated speech. There were a couple versions of them and the voice used by each is somewhat different. With one speech program, the docs mentioned "later versions of 'Narrator.device' sound like Robin Leach and speak in a halting fashion that will drive you crazy," and an older version was recommended. When these files are overwritten, you might be getting the version with the voice inflections you don't prefer (as in my case). It's pointless that they are installed anyway, since they aren't used in the least by the main game. There are a couple other little programs on the CD that require them, but you shouldn't even have to deal with any of their necessary files until the time might arise. The overwriting of the "Say" program and "IconX" didn't bug me as much, since they were the one and only versions. Yet nothing should have been overwritten automatically and this is inexcusable. A necessary assign named "Zombie" (pointing to the drawer created on your hard drive) will be added to your "User-startup" script. Your "Startup-sequence" will be altered too (but you are able to bypass that, as I did). It you didn't, it would add info to that file to execute the "User-startup" if present - - but doesn't everyone have that already at the end of their "Startup-sequence"? The system crashed too many times to count when attempting to run from the Workbench. Before it begins, you should be in PAL mode; it is not done automatically. It will play in NTSC, but you'll be missing messages at the bottom of the screen, a visual of your weapon's strength, etc. Make sure you have plenty of CHIP free if attempting to run from the Workbench, which I can't recommend. I set my choice of control, selected to start the one-player game...and a message appears asking me to insert a "Gloom data disk"! Hmmm...isn't this "Zombie Massacre"? Needless to say, I was quite annoyed by this time. I began thinking of what to do and eventually the problem was solved. Not by any help from the documentation. Checking the docs, there was a problem/solution area. There was the problem of being asked to insert a data disk. Their "solution": SEE ABOVE, which was 'insert data disk'. I should have expected as much. Fortunately, I have the original "Gloom" game that came on disks. You needed a "GloomData" assign to run from the hard drive. I surmised: Would this possibly work here as well? Yes, indeed! I assigned that to the game's main drawer on the CD-ROM and then I was finally able to proceed. To have left this assign from the installation script is a major oversight and I remain surprised that this was released in such a faulty manner. Without my access to the original game - and a lucky guess - I'd still be in the dark. Now, any new user of the game won't have to go through this all of this (if they come upon this review). Do the following: - create a drawer named G in your "S" directory (this was done by the install script originally) using a directory utility or by opening a shell and the MakeDir command - assign the name "Zombie" to that drawer; this was not even done automatically and I was presented with a requester asking me to insert that volume when I tried running the game the very first time! - assign "GloomData" to CD?:Zombie_Massacre/ZM - open the "Setup" drawer on the CD; click "Run Setup!; with it, you choose information about the chunky-to-planar setting and it is saved in the G drawer; this only needs to be done once, of course, and after the previous commands have be executed - switch into PAL mode with an appropriate program from the Aminet - click on the "Load_ZM" icon in CD?:Zombie_Massacre/ZM to start That icon is in the third opened window; each window takes up some of the precious CHIP. It was stated that the icon could be dragged to the hard drive, yet this didn't work for me. I just kept getting an error and the game wouldn't run. If it was just a combination of programs I had running from the WBstartup drawer that interfered, then it should not run when I click on the "Load_ZM" from the disc. Go figure. If attempting to run from Workbench, I would drag the icon out, close those windows, then click it. As for me, I just obtained the program "ResRun" from the Aminet. When used as a default tool in a program icon, it resets the machine and runs a script or program. I created my own script, with appropriate assigns and so forth, and it works just fine. This gives me maximum CHIP available and speed since no other programs are running. I also recommend this because, when the Workbench was in PAL, it seemed that a slight touch of the mouse could make it go back to NTSC. This didn't happen after a clean boot. If you want me to send you my script, just email. PART TWO: FINALLY GETTING SOMEWHERE Okay, now that all of that is finally behind us, was it worth your reading time and how does the game stand up? This is yet another attempt at capturing the interest of gamers who enjoy the classic first-person perspective "Doom" and ones of the same genre (i.e. "Alien Breen 3-D"). It's been called a sequel to "Ultimate Gloom" (aka "Gloom3") and is supposed to have a faster engine. The CD overlay states: Over 40 levels of single and double player mayhem; 11 new sprites, each with 48 frames of animation; fantastic digital audio tracks, including a spoken plotline; over 100 megs of FMV with actors; new enemy intelligence and realistic shadows. Basically, if you already have played "Gloom3", this is more of an update attempt and I wouldn't exactly call it a sequel. With your plasma cannon, you can go at it alone or take a friend to battle the flesh-eating zombie hordes and other evil denizens. Each level has an exit you need to locate in order to proceed. There will be plenty of powerups for your gun. Others to find include health, invisibility (temporary), infrared (temporarily see through walls), and bouncy bullets. At the option menu, you see: one player game; two player game; two player combat; player one control; player two control; remote link options; blood options (dirty; nasty); about ALPHA; back to Workbench. Concerning the blood option, choosing 'dirty' results in bloody bits of the exploded enemies. As for the controls, either player can use keyboard, joystick 1/2, or CD32 pad 1/2. My favourite is the CD32 pad; the left/right strafe buttons work fine, and with the auto-fire button on my CD32 pad clone, I can really make short work of those skin-eaters! A press of ESC brings up the menu where you can choose different pixelizations and window size. With my 68030/40mhz, I used full-screen, pixel width at 2, height at 1, and left ceiling/floor both on. The width/height settings are 1, 2, or 4. A height of 2 was too blocky for my taste. A pixel width of 1 didn't seem to make much difference, so I keep it at 2 to keep things moving a bit faster. PART THREE: DON'T LIKE...DID LIKE... - the kinda drab colours (too many greys); - walls are always blocky, no matter the pixel setting (but this can be overlooked; the floor and ceiling look much better) - no saving of positions and no codes - once the 3 lives are gone, you must start at the beginning of the first level - not really a sequel - I have "Gloom3" and this isn't extremely different - there aren't any marked exits like in the original - you can walk by a wall and find yourself transported to the next area unexpectedly and before you are ready - you still only have the one weapon and it can only be boosted; some other choices would be nice - no map button - the bloopers aren't funny (some aren't 'bloopers' at all). A potential one, with a guy tripping down a few steps, is incomplete. During one of these outtakes, the word "sh*t" is mentioned. As well, there's one where a zombie character is eating the flesh off of a hand prop and no such scene is included in the main intro (this isn't the only one, and this would have been good to have!). - Although the intro is around 65 megs, it goes by quickly and more scenes of variety would have been good. It's all in black and white. A man comes downstairs...meets some zombies in the garden area outside his house... is attacked...and suddenly he's attacking them with a gun. An outake showed him choosing a weapon; that's another that shouldn't have been left out of the intro. In addition, you aren't even using a gun in the game, it's a type of "plasma cannon". So, this is a discrepency. - The sounds associated with the intro are from the computer, not from when the videos were made. I know you can't be out there firing a real pistol, but the phony gun shots didn't impress me. Better samples could have been used and real voices (as in the outtakes) were missing. A great sequel would have had a map, weapon variety, codes/save slots, and actual enemy AI. I'd have liked it if the zombies would just come at you...like all good zombies do...but the other creatures would fire and retreat. Recently, I played a long time and had only lost one man. Then at this one level, I just couldn't get anywhere. It wasn't particularly big, yet I couldn't find any way out. When you walk up to a door, it usually opens. Sometimes, you hear the sound of an opening door while you aren't near one. It's up to you to locate the new corridor, and I don't like this much at all. So, at this level, I heard one of these door sounds. I spent ages (well, 20 minutes or so) going over this level, coming upon the same places again and again. No map key to help and eventually I was fed up. Being unable to save my place or have a code is supremely irritating! That and the installation are the major problems. Also, after making it through 10 or so locations, still nothing was changing. The zombies are always identical and the whole look seemed to be getting tiresome. Kill the zombies...move to a new area that looks all-too familiar...repeat. There are good points to recognize. Nice speed; CD32 pad compatibility; scary monster sounds; evil characters that recoil when being hit and explode into bloody pieces; and, although I haven't been able to test it, I'm sure that the two player combat would be a blast (literally and figuratively). Yet Gloom3 had these already... PART FOUR: FINAL ANALYSIS AND BONUS MINI REVIEW-IN-A-REVIEW I gave Gloom3 (interestingly known as the 'Zombie Edition') a whirl and I had a better experience with it. It also needed a drawer to store some data, but installation of it took place with ease. I changed the screen to PAL, the game ran without trouble from Workbench, and didn't need a special assign other than the one that was made during installation. Nothing was added to the hard drive that I didn't want. In the game, the colours were 'livelier', I was presented with enemies that fired back at me not far in the play, and there is this floating- head enemy that is scarier than the one in ZM. There are many varieties of enemy right away, things were more frenetic and even the engine seemed to move faster. In the end, I would recommend this over Zombie Massacre. On the back of the ZM's disc case, is a quote: "It's a brilliant game and I suggest you get it pretty soon.". Yet, it turns out that this was actually attributed to Gloom3. I agree...go get it. It's free on Aminet #30. As for ZM, you can still obtain it from the "Software Hut" (www.softhut.com). You'll find it on a single CD and also included on Aminet #37; perhaps it will be better laid-out there.