Review by Physalis
"You have been sentenced... death or Deathdrome!"
This game is your classic example of some of the mid-90's games that were put out on CDs so people could play them, encouraging them to buy the full version. I was one of the few people who goto GameFAQs that signed up for heat.net, an online gaming service. They sent you a CD. Some of the stuff were just videos, but there were also demos. One of these were Deathdrome. There was a one player mode, in which the difficulty was very easy and you could only play on the first two levels. But when I logged onto heat.net and initiated the online game sequence, I was befelt with awe. This game bring back nostalgia rivaled by such games are Mario Bros. and Link's Awakening.
There is a good plot to this game. It really doesn't integrate into the game that much, i.e. there aren't movie sequences and you aren't some hero out to save the day or something like that. The story goes something like this. In the distant future, a judicial system by the name of C.O.R.T. makes a new option for death row inmates. They can either rot in their cells and die, or go into the Deathdrome and fight for their very lives. I would have to say the background for this game might be Akira, because the 'runners' you are in resemble Kaneda's bike (the big red one with all the stickers.) You could also call this a 'survival' game but more of that will be explained later on.
The controls for this game are very simple. There are direction buttons, you press up to zoom foreward, and back to back up, and left and right to turn. There are three types of weapons you have to your arsenal, well, four if you count the runner yourself. There is your basic laser, which just shoots bursts of lasers, lowering the enemy shields by only one percent. They shoot the same color of lasers as your runner. The second type is an energy barrier that you can use to trap other runners. The barrier comes out the back of your runner, and whatever direction that the runner goes, the barrier will follow. You can use this to make a circular cage around other runners. This is also useful for when someone is chasing you and you can distract them by letting your runner out behind you. The last type of weapon, the secondary weapon, is the most vast category. There are three slots in which you store these weapons. I will list these off and provide explanations. First there is a distruptor. It's basically a large disc of light you fire at the other runners and it stuns them for 8 seconds. During these 8 seconds they aren't able to do anything, not even move. There are missiles, which track the enemy and cause about a third of damage. There is a nitro boost, which CAN be used for speed, but is mainly used to ram the opponet. If you are really close to them, you can ram them to death with just one shot. There is an ion rod, that, if you're close enough, will automatically attach an electric current to the other runner, draining health. The next two weapons are some of the most important. There is a shockwave, which is a shockwave blast in a big radius around your runner. It only takes one hit to destroy the runner with this weapon. The last weapon is a defensive device; a nanoshield. It keeps you completely protected for 8 full seconds. These weapons make up for an explosive aspect of gameplay.
The gameplay is truly awesome. This greatly adds to its replayability. The multiplayer games are the more fun, though. You can have up to eight people on one game, each of them a different runner color. There are 8 levels, each of them with a unique color, landscape, and design. These levels are in the future. Some of the conceptual places for these levels are Death Valley, The Moon, and Moscow. The reason earlier why I said this could be a survival game will be apparent when you play. The scoring system is unique. There is either a time limit or a certain amount of kills you must obtain. When you do either of these, you go towards the middle of the level, where the runners spawn, and you escape into a tube going into the air. When the first person goes into this tube, mayhem insues. Giant walls of electricity start from the outermost points of the level and go inward, making it a race for survival. If you do not make it you're electrocuted and don't get the bliss of the tube and also the humiliation.
The sound and graphics are stimulating for an early 90's DOS game. There is a short movie sequence at the start, but it's nothing special. Just a bunch of images fading in and out explaining the story. There isn't any music to the game, but it makes up for it with the great sounds and images. The graphics are your classic VGA graphics, with lighting effects and textures which were advanced for that day and age. They are spectacular, but they're realistic enough to put you into the game. You're able to tell what everything is after a while and the HUD is very detailed. The sounds are basic, different sounds for different weapons. When you get experienced enough, you know which weapon to counter with only by hearing that weapon.
Sadly, a long time ago, heat.net was shut down. If I had enough money, I would start it all up again just so I could play Deathdrome again. This game is great is youre looking for a multiplayer challenge that can shape your actions, reflexes, and dexterity. Although you won't find any places to play it on the net anymore, you can still download the demo at various places on the net. So it doesn't really matter if you rent or buy unless you really want to get it off eBay or something, but it's rare even on there. If you play this, have fun and don't let the judge sentence you to death!
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 03/06/03, Updated 03/11/03
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