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Developer Kalisto Options
Distributer Activision (USA) Mem. Card
Game Type Action/Adventure 1 Player
Review Date October'97 Analogue Pad
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Setting the Scene
Nightmare Creatures, the name alone is enough to conjure up long buried childhood memories about scary things that go "bump" in the night.

It seems that a rather devious little fellow named Adam Crowley has been looking to revive a secret society known as the Brotherhood of Hectate. By way of evil experiments, Adam has managed to unleash a horde of bloodthirsty creatures onto the streets of 1834 London.

Its all up to you to discover Crowley's secret, stop the formation of the Brotherhood, oh and to get rid of all those homicidal creatures that seem to be lurking everywhere!

Nightmare Creatures is an action packed horror filled adventure game.

Gothic and moody; the graphics instill a real feel for an older, past time England. You find yourself placed in an accurately depicted London setting, right down to the cobblestone road and gothic styled buildings. The game designers used actual maps and blueprints of streets, cemeteries, sewers, etc. to recreate the feel of 1834 London and it works. The graphics give the game a real eerie ambience that is felt throughout your journey.

At first glance, the polygonal environment may bring the game "Tomb Raider" to mind. Characters are modeled similarly and the backgrounds have the same graphic flair. But once you begin the actual gameplay, you come to appreciate the graphics engine at work here. Kalisto's proprietary 3-D development tool called LibSys really does a fine job moving the complex world around your character. They claim a constant frame rate of 30 FPS is achieved at all times. I found that number extremely easy to believe. Turn left, right or make any other movements and the whole environment shifts flawlessly around. The game moves fast! I can't wait to see what further tweaking of this engine will produce in terms of graphical excellence on Kalisto's next project. It shows a lot of promise.

The actual polygon character models are also very nicely done. Attention to detail is apparent throughout the game. Everything is animated very nicely, with certain articles of clothing and hair flowing in the breeze, pieces of arms and legs flying here and there,nice subtle touches. The overall polygon count per character doesn't seem to be incredibly high, but it works nicely and enables the characters to move very quickly around the screen.

The animation of certain environmental elements is also quite convincing. Leaves swirl around your character, often tricking you momentarily into thinking that something is coming up along side of you. Boxes and glass shatter in a very convincing manner as well. It's this style of graphical flair that adds to the overall atmosphere of the game.

There is however some polygon clipping and seaming occurring here and there that occasionally make certain camera angles an annoyance. A quick flip of the thumb or directional pad instantly cures this problem though and unless it occurs when you are in a heated battle it doesn't become much of a problem.

Sounds and Effects
Ohh,nice sound effects. The slashing of you sword through monster meat is very convincingly done,then you have your creature death scream that is sure to send chills up your spine,ahhh tasty! Background sounds are everywhere,there's screeching and scratching, creature noises from way off in the distance, wind whipping by, the rattle of chains and other spooky effects that are constantly going on. This is a game that really got the sound effects right,it makes the environment even creepier than the graphics themselves.

The background music is nice and subtle,the haunting melodies really get inside your head. Eerie pipe organs bring back memories of the old classic horror movies and the thumping back-beat is enough to get your heart racing, raising to a fevered pitch at all the "right" moments. You won't find any canned techno or rock soundtracks in this game,just moody, scary music,very nice.
The game opens with a very nicely done, albeit slightly morbid FMV that gives you the background of the game. Get through this and you are dumped into the menu screen. You have a choice of playing the game on "Easy" or "Hard" mode. The hard setting is absolutely not recommended for beginners, but hey it's your call. The next thing that catches your eye is that the game is compatible with Sony's analog controller! Music and sound effects can be adjusted separately to you liking, and then it's off to choose your characters.

Nightmare Creatures offers the gamer two adventurers to choose from. You can select "Ignatius" the Priest. He is rather slow, but can sustain a good amount of abuse. He is also quite powerful and dishes out some pretty solid damage. The other choice is "Nadia". Nadia is the games femme fatale. She is quick, accurate and deadly but cannot sustain a large amount of attacks. Of course, I decided to try my hand at the sword-wielding Nadia and was then promptly transported to the first of the games 16 levels.

Each level has a specific mission that you need to accomplish before you can advance in the game. These tasks are laid out at the beginning of each new level and are part of a continually evolving story line in the game. This gives each level a certain amount of purpose.

Nightmare Creatures takes place in a completely 3-D polygon generated environment. The game is viewed from a 3rd person perspective with a highly mobile camera that follows you through the game. The camera angles are programmed to provide you with the optimal view of your surroundings in relation to your character. While this may be good in theory, I have yet to see an optimal camera setting at all times in any game. This one is no exception. For the most part the camera accurately tracks your character from behind, panning and weaving as you direct your onscreen personality. There is however times that the camera gets in front of your character or behind a wall and you need to move around a bit to get your view back. This isn't critical, unless of course you happen to be in the middle of a battle!

The game is played out in a similar manner to Tomb Raider. There is some exploring, some puzzle solving and lot's more battles than the aforementioned title. Your character uses their weapons to break apart boxes, shatter windows, detonate explosives and of course to battle the nasties in the game. New weapons are found on each level, in addition to retaining the weapons you acquired from the previous rounds. Weapons become increasingly more powerful in the later levels, this is a very good thing, considering the fact that the creatures get increasingly more difficult to defeat. The bosses in particular may at first seem to be an exercise in futility to put them down, but hey that's part of the challenge of a good, hard game right?

The monsters have a pretty good artificial intelligence programmed into them. Even getting by the ghouls at first play is a chore. When attacked by a group, some monsters will often surround you, hacking away and then retreating repeatedly. Luckily your character has a good number of moves to use against them. Besides the weapons, you have the ability to kick, punch and put together a good number of combos to help even things out a bit.

Which brings me to my next point, Nightmare Creatures is a hard game. The monsters in the mid to later levels are brutal! The good news is that the game is such an enjoyable experience, you will in all likelihood keep coming back for more. Striving for just one more shot at the boss. Finding some objects can also be a tough, but not ridiculously so. Overall, it's just a very challenging game, in a good way.

The creatures in this game are varied and well portrayed. Each one has it's own attack characteristics and forces the gamer to apply the proper strategy for each one. A jumping hack/slash may work wonders on one creature, but it will most likely get you chewed to bits on another.

Each character has been modeled with per-polygon detection. What this means is that you can aim for specific body parts and chop away at them. You can remove arms, legs and even the head, one piece at a time, and with some creatures that may be the only way to defeat them!

While all of the levels retain a moody gothic feel to them, they are well varied and interesting to explore. The game really captures and focuses on keeping the player at the edge of their seat. At many points it places forces you to walk down tight, darkened alleyways with blind corners. You just know that at any moment something evil will jump out at you, so you need to be alert at all times. Even walking by a stack of boxes will occasionally prompt a creature to jump out from behind them or even worse, attempt to knock the entire stack on top of you!

The only real downside to the game is the control. In digital control mode, your character is always running form one place to another. Performing precise jumps can sometimes be a serious problem. There are places that require extreme care in crossing or it's lights out. Thank god for the analog control. In analog mode precise steps are a breeze to pull off, unfortunately the overall game, especially the fighting, is better suited to digital control. Luckily the programmers were smart enough to allow the gamer to use both. On the Sony analog pad for example, both the digital and analog portions of the controller are active at the same time. Switching between the two becomes second nature. In my opinion, without both of these control options the gameplay would suffer greatly. If you decide to get this game, and you probably should, do yourself a favor and get one of the new analog pads as well. You'll thank me later.

I also wasn't crazy about the adrenaline system. The game forces you to continually move forward and complete the level in a certain amount of time. Dilly-dally long enough and your adrenaline vial runs dry and begins eating away at your life bar, and them you die. I would have preferred to do a bit more investigating or just enjoy the eerie settings a bit more. Oh well.

Value for Money
Nightmare Creatures is a very challenging game. The 16 levels are varied and interesting to play. Couple this with the choice of two completely different characters and you have yourself a game with some pretty good staying power.

GRAPHICS: Very Good A very well executed game. Nightmare Creatures manages to maintain the kind of edge-of-your-seat suspense that is rarely found in games of this type. The only other games that come to mind that compare in the suspense department is Resident Evil, which is still the brown trousers king and Clock Tower to a somewhat lesser degree.

The monsters are very challenging and varied in both fighting style and appearance. The overall setting, graphics and music only help to draw you further into the game. This is one of those can't miss titles that will in all likelihood appeal to a broad spectrum of people.
SOUND: Brilliant
VALUE: Very Good

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