It's enough to make a back-bench mp spill a pink gin all over his mistress. The games world is becoming obsessed by violence. Of course, the games world has always been fond of the odd punch and hack. Some players can't sleep at night if they haven't laid waste to a city full of ores, or poured a serious tonnage of explosive down the ventilation flute of an Iraqi orphanage. Violence and the pc game are not strangers. However, recently things have become more concentrated. People love 'first-person-perspective' violence, set along corridors filled with aliens. From the mighty Doom to the rather wobbly In Extremis, the games world loves to do things in the 'first person', preferably with a gun in one hand and a chainsaw in the other.
Wolf in wolf's clothing
Amidst the mighty games that stand like software landmarks along the dusty trail to gamesplaying nirvana (Steady on. Ed), one that stands higher than most is Wolfenstein 3D. Born, kicking, screaming and shooting in June 1992, the game was a real ground-breaker, particularly since its background was in shareware; traditionally the home of strange cga platform games and Defender clones. (Sorry Mark). The engine from this game was so successful it cropped up again in games like Catacomb Abyss, Spear Of Destiny and Dracula. So when Konami licensed the engine in order to develop their own game, they were hardly taking a massive gamble. (It's rather like buying the rights to the Lennon/McCartney songbook.)
Through the complex maze that is marketing in the software industry - a maze far more complex than anything Ultima Underworld has ever thrown up - the product is finally seeing the light of day under the auspices of Gametek.
The 'ltojan Horse' principle
'Beware of Greeks bearing gifts', the saying goes. Which is, of course, a complete bugger if your parents happen to be Greek: birthdays tending to be dull, rather empty affairs and Christmas a complete no no. However, it is wise advice if you happen to be an Earth scientist in the year 2021 who's discovered a strange metallic object on the surface of Mars. This object has been cheerfully carried back to a research centre on earth to be dated, studied and shown old Cary Grant movies.
Unfortunately (cue orchestral build up), the object is in fact a beacon to warn an alien life force of the presence of other intelligent life. If only it had landed in Basildon we'd have been alright; the aliens would have realised mankind was yet to evolve and so left us alone. Sadly, it didn't. The aliens see a rival and with the enthusiasm of a Victorian missionary, they're soon storming towards earth, guns blazing, eager to show us the error of our ways.
Before you can say 'The Archduke of Zanzibar drinks absinthe and pears', the research station has been taken over by aliens, fully equipped with huge guns and appalling table manners. The station is completely cut off from the outside world; unable to send out warnings or call for help. You can probably guess the rest. As a lone marine you must storm the building, fighting your way through 30 levels until you reach Corridor 7 where the object is stored. All in a day's work really.
Beauty and the beast
The game is still in development, but is already looking like a very acceptable piece of action. The graphics obviously don't come anywhere near the overpowering wonder of Doom. However, there some really nice use of light; flickering on computer banks which line the walls, or spiralling in the middle of force fields. Corridor 7 strong on colour, too: here, the Green Room is not something that sad drama hacks sit in discussing their tour with the rsc while waiting for their walk-on part. It's a grim, brooding room full of death.
It's not all done with mirrors, but there are some nice uses of glass in the game. As you wander the corridors, you'll pass the occasional glass wall behind which you can see rooms and guards. There's another neat touch in the use of a night vision and infrared visor - helpful when someone hits the lights and useful to add another visual dimension (man). It all adds to the atmosphere folks, as do the variety of aliens stalking each level... although some of them do look a bit like killer bunnies.
Wild de beast
Of course, no-one really cares about the graphics or the scrolling. What does matter to every red-blooded gamesplayer is, of course, the action. How dangerous is it? What's the body count? What's the blood count? Do I get to remove someone's sternum with a rusty pen knife? Well, on this level Corridor 7 seems to be in the glorious, blood-drenched tradition of its Wolfenstein forefather. There is a myriad of different aliens, and a vast range of hardware with which to curtail their chances of skating for their country. However, you don't need to take my word for it as by now you'll have played the cover game yourself and made up your own mind. Which kind of makes me redundant. Cover disks - they're putting journalists out of work I tell you.
Download Corridor 7
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
How many variations on the Wolfenstein theme can you have?" I wonder to myself. About 70 squillion seems to be about right. Not that there's anything wrong with Wolfenstein, of course, but you can only get so much fun out of doing all the same things in the same environment, game after game, albeit with different graphics every time. Corridor 7 uses the Wolfenstein engine to bring you a game which, in terms of the plot and game environment, is more than a million miles away from id software's original ground-breaking extravaganza. However, it does sound just a tinsy-little bit like another game we all know and love.
Plot pinching ahoy
The scenario for Corridor 7 goes something like this: The year is 2012. A group of scientists come back from Mars with a large metallic object. Said metallic object explodes into a radiating gateway, linking our planet to another. Loads and loads of aliens come running out of the entrance and start a great big invasion. You step in as a Special Forces agent who has to enter the overrun military base and kill all the baddies. Hmm... scientists from Mars, eh? Doom was set on Mars, spookily enough. And that gateway linking our world to another part sounds a bit familiar. Oh yeah Doom had a world-linking gateway in it too. So, it would seem Gametek has borrowed a little more than id software's game engine for its latest release. Still, I suppose it doesn't really matter too much as long as the game play's up to scratch. Let's have a look at it then.
The object of the game is to make your way through the 30 floors of the military base, killing lots of aliens as you go along (of course). You have to kill all the aliens on each floor before you can go on to the next one. Blue and red access doors block your way at every turn and can only be opened when you've found the computer terminals which have the access codes to open the doors. When you find the terminals, you simply bump into them and, just like magic, all the doors of corresponding colour open up. Some of the terminals are intruder alert stations and when you touch these, every alien on the whole floor knows where you are. This doesn't matter too much as you have to get rid of them all anyway. In fact, it helps to have them all running to you instead of you having to chase them about all over the place. You can call up a map of the floor you're on, which will give you either detailed or minimal info on the floor depending which difficulty level you're playing the game at. If you play at easy-peasy level, it shows you everything, including the location of all the aliens, so you can take all the challenge out of the game and just go sight-seeing and alien bashing if you want. Basically, that's it for the gameplay. Open up doors, kill all the aliens on the floor you're on and then go on to the next one to repeat the process until you eventually reach the guardian on the top floor, who'll no doubt give you a run for your money.
Look and feel
Corridor 7 looks like a cross between Wolfenstein and Doom. It's more aesthetically pleasing than Wolfenstein in terms of graphics, otherwise it doesn't hold a candle to its illustrious predecessor. It doesn't have the tension or atmosphere of Wbl/enstein or Doom. By the time you've wandered around a couple of floors and bashed a few alien bods, you'll be more than a little bored. This is partially down to the combat parts which aren't exactly electrifying (after a while you start to feel as though you're killing the aliens just to get them out of the way, as opposed to doing it for fun) and partially down to the repetitive gameplay. All the floors look more or less the same and the puzzles don't change, so once you've sussed out how to complete the first one you'll be set up for the whole shooting match. I can't really see the point in producing a game that uses id's game engine and then relying on it to carry the whole affair along instead of using it as a base to build upon. There's nothing even vaguely original about Corridor 7. We played it for hours, waiting for something a little different to happen in order to relieve the mind-numbing boredom, but it never did. The one thing the game has got going for it, I suppose, is the price. Twenty quid is really pretty cheap for a pc game these days, but if you're into this sort of game (otherwise you wouldn't consider buying it anyway) you'd be far better off spending an extra ten quid and buying Doom instead.