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Big guns, big targets, and big explosions; good multiplayer action over network or modem.
Nondescript level design; repetitive, connect-the-dot single player gameplay; some really annoying, game-halting bugs.
Diehard shooter fans and particularly violent bumper car enthusiasts.
System Requirements: Pentium 60 or better processor, 8MB RAM, 20MB hard drive space, Windows 95, 2x CD-ROM drive, 1MB SVGA graphics card; supports
mouse, joystick and Windows 95 compatible sound cards
Multiplayer Support: 1-4 (LAN)
Developer: Raven Software
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Developed by Raven Software, the same folks responsible for Heretic and Hexen, Necrodome seems to promise more than the average 3D shooter delivers. But bogged down by lack of imagination and some infuriating bugs, the game never realizes its potential.
Napalm in the Morning
Necrodome is set in yet another post-apocalyptic future where gladiators man heavily armed cars called Raiders, battling in arenas across the United States. As a Raider you're pitted against each arena's defenses in what is essentially a game of Capture the Flag. You can pick up six different weapons to mount to your Raider as well as a number of single-use "flash gear," but despite the variety, you'll find only two or three of the weapons useful as you progress through the game.
In a novel twist, Necrodome requires you to leave the safety of your vehicle to succeed, since many power-ups and switches are reachable only on foot. Hitting the Delete key pops you out of your Raider, turning you into a vulnerable, shotgun-toting Runner. When your Raider is destroyed, you live on as a Runner - if only for a short while. Dodge and shoot your way back to the arena's starting point and you'll find a new, stripped-down Raider you can commandeer. Though Necrodome supports a mouse or joystick, only the keyboard controls can be customized.
Running On Empty
Visually, Necrodome is a mixed bag. While gunned-down infantrymen erupt into a mess of twitching limbs and vehicles blow up better than a '76 Pacer, most enemy vehicles look nearly identical and absolutely nonthreatening. A few arenas feature ice patches and lava flows, but most sport the same dreary look of gloom.
The level design in Necrodome is similarly unimaginative, never taking advantage of the true 3D environments. All arenas are wide open spaces, eliminating any real chance for ambush or surprise and, therefore, any possibility of excitement. Plus, almost every arena forces you to hit a series of switches to get to the flag. It's uninspired, repetitive gameplay.
Necrodome's biggest drawbacks are a number of terrible bugs. Chief among these is your Raider's tendency to get stuck on corners and edges of walls. You cannot move, despite the fact that nothing is blocking you. Your must either take time to slowly steer clear of the phantom obstruction or jump out of the car and shoot it dead so you can get a new one. Neither option is appealing when a rocket-blasting Sentinel is approaching. Equally unattractive is restoring a saved game, since Necrodome can be saved only after beating an arena. On top of this, you sometimes lose all control of movement after your Raider's destruction. Throw in periodic lock-ups and you're assured some bald spots from hair-pulling.
There is some value in multiplayer gaming - in a cooperative play option two players can man one Raider. But un-less you're mad for first-person shooters, Necrodome is just another also-ran.
By Robert Coffey
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