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|A.P.I Review:||DEATHTRAP DUNGEON|
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|Game Type:||3rd Person Action / Shooter||Memory Card|
|Review Date:||March 1998||Standard Joypad|
Setting the Scene
Think back, I mean way back, way, way back. Back before the advent of the text-based computer adventure games and Dungeons and Dragons wasn't yet seen as the devils work. "Fighting Fantasy" was a series of books that were the forerunner to the modern day adventure games. With titles like 'The Warlock of Firetop Mountain' and 'Deathtrap Dungeon'. These books had the reader fooled into thinking that they were playing a game. You would read a page containing a description of your surroundings or a battle you had to fight against a fantastic creature, you then make a decision about what your next move would be, take a dark corridor to the left on page 45 or shimmy up a slime covered wall on page 78. This was all good fun, extremely well written and addictive. Come back to the present and we're back into it again. Deathtrap Dungeon comes to the PlayStation, with the help of one of the original Fighting Fantasy writers, Ian Livingstone. In this modern day version of the book you take on the role a highly trained hero (a female - "Red Lotus", or male - "Chaindog") and take on the challenge presented annually by one Baron Sukumvit. This challenge - to journey through the dungeon, survive its' many perils and destroy the evil dragon, Melkor, will free the people of Fang from their terrible fate and make you wealthy beyond your wildest dreams. If the 50 different evil creatures and monsters don't kill you, the dungeon itself certainly will, so take your best sword, and all your wits, training and bravery - you'll need them to survive the journey ahead of you.
Deathtrap Dungeon is a 3rd person Action Adventure in much the same style as Tomb Raider and Broken Helix.
There are only a select number of PlayStation games which have introductions that I have watched through to the end more than once: Soul Blade (of course, it's a benchmark intro), Oddworld-Abes Oddysee (simply because it's fun and looks great) and now, Deathtrap Dungeon. Running for about 5 minutes, it tells the story of the Dungeon, using a nice touch of humour and awesome presentation. The quality continues as you reach the first in-game menu. From the language selection screen to the main options menu the fantasy theme of the game is emphasised, even the sound and music configuration screen is impressive. Where most games resort to boring sliders to select music and FX levels, here we see some poor soul strapped to a rack and a band of Orcs holding various instruments. Change the FX levels and the rack is cranked - the screams of a tortured soul increase of decrease in volume. Adjust the music and an Orc band starts rocking along and playing a tune - Brilliant! FMV and fancy menu systems do not make a game, so the big question is, what are the actual in-game graphics like? The answer is, nothing short of stunning. Everything in the game is 3D texture mapped and while Red Lotus and Chaindog are not as convincing as a certain female in another similar game, they are smoothly rendered and realistically animated. The monsters are awesome and the dungeon is filled with all sorts of spooky, evil and realistic looking rooms complete with treasure chests and wall murals. Speaking of walls, take a walk around a room, stand facing a wall and take a good look, the texture is smooth and realistic looking, the scaling is done very well and is far superior to other 1st and 3rd person games in the PlayStation. Another nice feature in this game is the real time lighting effects. When you cast a spell up a dark corridor, it actually lights the walls as it moves towards the target. The graphics are always smooth and fast, there is never any slowdown or popup. The only graphical element that may cause a problem is minimal clipping that happens when you stand too close to a wall or door, however, this is does not effect the playability of the game in any way.
Sounds and Effects
As a general rule, Good in-game music has a theme, and carries that theme to effect the feel of the game, great in-game music has the ability to set the scene and feel of the game in a way that not only complements the setting but adds to the gameplay. Deathtrap Dungeon has great in-game music. While not thumping techno or guitar rock and not likely to win a grammy, the musical score is appropriate, effective and changes as the action in the game moves along. The sound effects include weapons clashing, monster screaming, grunting and snorting, doors opening, lifts moving and hundreds of others. Each of the effects sound realistic and are never overdone.
Take a busty female warrior or muscle bound male swordsman, throw them into a dungeon filled with evil and cunning fantasy creatures, fiendish traps and murderous devices, on a quest to kill an ancient and powerful Dragon. Now add weapons of all descriptions, from steel swords to blunderbuss and flame-throwers, scrolls, potions, and spells, throw in a good measure of running, jumping and climbing. Stir in a whole bunch of combat - include decapitations, disembowelment, and dismemberment, blood, guts and gore. Play for 20 or more hours in a dark room with the stereo turned up and you have the pure pleasure that is - "Deathtrap Dungeon". Each level in the game is quest based: kill the boss, find the sword, pull all the levers and while the plot is pretty thin, the execution of the game is excellent. If you take each level as an independent entity and ignore the fact that the as a whole all you're really doing is progressing through a bunch of tunnels towards certain doom, you should have a lot of fun. The levels are intriguing and very well designed. Multiple elevators take you from one floor to another, long dark corridors join together column filled rooms. Each level has a unique look and feel making it seem like a different game every time you progress. As with most games of this type, the playability of Deathtrap Dungeon is greatly effected by the control of the main character. It would be fair to say that the controls took a little time to master, but were still considerably easier and more intuitive than those used in Tomb Raider. Armed combat involves using the attack button in combination with a direction button - in desperation, even unarmed combat is a viable method of self defence, with punching, kicking and headbutting some of the available moves. The only major problem I encountered while playing this game was with the floating camera. while effective in most cases, it occasionally became difficult to do simple things like looking around corners. This game is huge, with a list of features that include: * Based on Ian Livingstone's multi-million unit selling Fighting Fantasy gamebooks. * Deadly combat with 55 monstrous characters from Orcs and Dragons, to Mummies and Zombies. * Full 3D gameplay with an intuitive 3rd person camera angle system. * 10 tortuous levels, each an enormous sweeping map of mazes, corridors, dungeons, and traps. * Frantic close-quarters combat with swords, hammers, spell casting, muskets, and as a last resort, your bare hands! * Deviously designed traps including covered pits, hidden corridors, false floors, hails of arrows, and moving spikes. * Atmospheric dynamic lighting system. * The ability to switch from 3rd person to 1st person mode for certain combat functions It's the small things that make a difference in Deathtrap. The first thing you will notice is the blood. When you kill the first of many dungeon dwellers you'll sever an arm, leg, or head. Blood with spill onto the floor or wall, the head will fly off and hit a wall leaving a lovely bloodstain. Blood will even drip from the roof in big globs. The programmers could have been lazy and made all the bloodstains the same, but they actually have a random element - different styles of killing produce different patterns! Another nice touch is seen when your character dies by falling from a great height - Their foot will twitch for a couple of seconds before finally falling still. Like I said, it's the small things that make a difference. Loading times in the game are very short, kept to a minimum at the beginning of levels and at 10-12 seconds are very acceptable for a PlayStation title of this complexity. The bottom line about playability in Deathtrap is the fun you'll have. Without a doubt, playing through the levels, setting and disarming traps as you go, avoiding conflict where it is possible and fighting bravely where it's not, is the most fun element of the game. That's really what it is all about, having fun, forgetting the outside world and entering another world, Deathtrap is that world - get in there.
Value for Money
While Deathtrap has ample levels and you'll spend days playing, it also has the ability to totally suck you in and not let go, to make you forget the time and ignore details like eating, sleeping and working. There are not too many games that can boast these qualities.
am usually a little reluctant to give any game such a high rating, but I
honestly can't find anything significantly wrong with Deathtrap. Given
that 100% would be the perfect game (no game is perfect), Deathtrap is
as close to perfect as you're going to get on PlayStation, the only
thing that is missing is a multi-player option.
Call me crazy but I never really understood what people saw in Tomb Raider (beyond the obvious), while Lara was always well drawn and animated, the graphics were just a little too pixelized and the gameplay frankly annoyed me. So, speaking from the point of view of someone who doesn't like the Tomb Raider style of game, I love Deathtrap Dungeon. While the two games are essentially very similar I can't explain why I dislike Tomb Raider and love Deathtrap, maybe it's the better graphics, maybe it's the depth of gameplay, maybe I'm just picky. Whatever the reason, you should go out right now and buy Deathtrap, if you even remotely like this style of game, it's the must buy game of the year.
a firm admirer of Lara Croft's antics (not to mention her assets), I
thought it was a little too much to expect Deathtrap Dungeon to live up
to the high standards that the brace of Tomb Raider adventures had
previously set in this genre.
Eidos almost got away with it - stunning intro, commendable graphics, the shapely damsel, the muscular hero and an excellent combination of spells, weapons and tricks to boot. The light sourcing was particularly impressive highlighting just how far video games have advanced since the days of Castle of Druaga.
So what went wrong? Gameplay - that's what. I have a good system that allows me to judge poor gameplay when testing a game. My first concern arises if I keep looking at the clock worrying about my ever expanding workload. Second, when my character dies I feel hard pushed to restart the level. Finally is the dreaded yawn - say no more. Running around dingy dungeons being chased by a horny demon as you desperately seek a switch to open the exit works quite well on the opening levels, but after half a dozen of much the same thing I became.... well, bored shitless.
Deathtrap Dungeon bares more comparison to Telstar's Excalibur 2055AD with the latter posing the more devious puzzles.