The Chaos Engine Review (PC)
To celebrate reaching its twentieth birthday it’s been remade and released courtesy of Abstraction Games and Bitmap Brothers. I didn’t play this game in its original format, in the days where the likes of the Sega Genesis (or Mega Drive to us European folk, and Amiga CD32) were the big players in gaming. I decided that the first port of call was to look at some YouTube gameplay videos to see what was in store for me. Having seen just how the game works I could then see just what was different in this 2013 remake.
The core basics are still the same in this version with the same six characters available for you to play as, and the same story is the same too. These six characters are divided into what I would argue are three pairs of two. The Navvie and Thug fit into this first pair, in what I would call “the Brawlers”, having the most health and the most damage and most destructive special abilities. Yet the downside to these characters is that they cost the most to hire. The second pair, which I’d call “Soldiers”, includes the Brigand and Mercenary who are similar to the previous pair, but have a slightly weaker feel to them in health and attack. However, this is balanced by them having more specials and they are also faster moving characters. Last but not least is the pair which I’d call the “Scouts”. The scout pair includes the last two characters being the Gentleman and the Preacher. These characters are the weakest of the six, but have the widest selection of specials available to them.
I tried each of these six characters through a few levels each, and each character has its own set of pros and cons. As mentioned before, the Gentleman has the lowest health of the characters; but his weapons shots will pass through enemies and hit others behind them. Though, saying this I did found myself dying an awful lot. So, I gave up and tried the next. Finding the right character for you is probably the best way to fully enjoy just what this game has to offer. It’s clearly a remake of a classic and the new additions to the game, such as the “graphic enhancement” and the addition of Xbox 360 controller support don’t take away from the truly retro feel. However, if you want to go back to the original 8 directional movement controls as featured on the Amiga CD32 then don’t plug in your controller. I tried this before realising that the game had Xbox 360 controller support and really struggled to grasp this method of control. There’s also an option to remap any controls to whatever configuration you wish to set them as for both player one and player two.
The graphic enhancement option adds what I would call a “fake HDR”. Before the enhancement is turned on, with PC it’s as simple as pressing Alt+E at any time to enable or disable, it adds more light into the game adding new shiny reflective textures to the games menu, the character selection screen and in each of the games levels. So, if you were hoping for an up to date retexture and graphic overhaul… you won’t be getting it and will just have to make do with what you’ve got.
One new addition to this game that makes absolutely freaking no sense to me is this. The ability to tweet, from in game… The default is set as “I’m playing @ChaosEngineGame!” with a link attached which leads the games official website. Now, I’m sorry but what really is the point of this. Informing the world, and your poor followers that you’re playing a game that chances are, they’ve not heard of? Also, if playing this game on Steam… then your friends will already see that you’re playing this game anyway. A complete waste of development time in my opinion… but I could be entirely wrong and you guys will Tweet to your heart’s content!
As in the original local co-op is an option should you have any friends who’ll take the place of the second player, yet if you don’t have any “in real life” friends then you can now invite your “internet friends” to play with you and take that second player spot over Steam. Imagine that, co-operative play on a game over the internet!
If you remember this game from its days on consoles such as the Mega Drive and Amiga CD32 and want to play it again, then you’re going to love that this game has been remade, albeit with a few new additions and one quite frankly ridiculous addition. You’ll love it for the hours spent in nostalgia as you remember you’re excitement unwrapping this game and blowing the bottom port or just placing the CD into your Amiga and finally being able to play it. You’ll love remembering the hours of enjoyment that you had as a youngster.
Yet, if you have none of these memories at all and just fancy taking a stab at this game, then you’ll appreciate the games style, the story and once you master the gameplay you’ll enjoy that. I certainly have, though I do have an issue. After playing his game, I looked into how much this remake will cost, and this is where my issue lies. For a game that is more of a re-release than a remake the £7 that GOG, Steam and Get Games are asking for, it seems to be a little steep in my opinion. It is entirely worth that amount of money for a game that in its past won many awards including the 15th best Mega Drive game as voted by Mega and won two awards in the Sega Awards winning both best action game and best 3rd Party Game of the year in 1994, yet I can’t help but feel that there are games out now that just do this style of gameplay better.
I’d hate to draw a comparison to a game that takes a similar style as The Chaos Engine, but Jamestown is a prime example of this. A game that was made to mimic the style of gameplay that we find familiar with top down action shooter games and just did it brilliantly, and Jamestown costs just as much as The Chaos Engine.
All in all, The Chaos Engine is a thoroughly great game, and for those of you wanting to try it, I say give it a go. It is entirely worth the time and money that you’ll invest into the game. Six characters to master, level up and complete the story with and the addition of internet co-op as well as local co-op; the game deserves to be played. Everything you might ask for is in there, and it has stayed faithful to its predecessor. But is that enough for its older fans?
I’ll close this review with this. I am truly torn in what score to give this game. Is it a 4 star because it is still fun and to me an entirely new game to play, or is it a 3.5 purely because of the doubts in the back of my mind about the price that I have and how its veterans may complain about a lack of graphical update. I would give it a 4, but on thinking about it long and hard. The game just doesn’t quite hit that magic marker. It is thoroughly enjoyable, just that doubt about the price and drawing comparisons I cannot shake.
3.5 ungodly creatures out of 5