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by Al Giovetti
Price: $45
Genre: action arcade Doom like game
Developer: Raven
Programmer: Patrick Lipo, Robert Love, Rick Johnson
Music: Kevin Schilder
Art: James Sumwalt, Rebecca Rettenmund, Brian Pelletier, Shane Gruno, Matia Wagabaza, Scott Rice, Les Dosrscheid, Steve Raffel
Producer: Scott Cuthbertson, Mac Senour
Publisher: SSI
Phone: 408-737-6800
Requirements: Pentium, 60 MHz, Windows 95, 8 MB RAM, 2X CD ROM

Company line: The old governments were gone. The old ways of living were gone. Nothing remained of the way things had been, nothing but the desire to compete and the need for heroes. Seeking ever more-violent forms of entertainment, the gore-starved populace of the New World city-states turned to vehicle pit fighting. At first, it was crude - one car against another in a simple pit or warehouse. Then sponsors came in; built bigger, more devious pits, and promoted single drivers against larger number of foes. necrodo3.jpg - 23.8 K

Soon each city-state had their own pit or "Arena". Special care was taken to provide a special feel to each - representing the attitude of those who owned it. The leaders of some of the city-states then gathered and laid the plans for the "The Circuit". A hierarchy of the pits was developed based on their difficulty - with the culmination being the Necrodome. Remotely televised, the sport is the biggest past-time in the New World. No other sport or competition exists to rival the trials of these modern-day heroes. Nothing could.

The wars are now a dim memory to most people. The Circuit is the goal of every young hotshot with a car, and the death of most. No one has ever survived the whole Circuit, and only one has ever made it to the Necrodome. That dead man's name is still whispered in awe to this day.

History: Raven software has not brought out any of their games lately, so if you are a fan, this translation to a game similar to the others of Raven should make you happy.

Raven Software was founded in 1988 by brothers, Brian and Steve Raffel. With the goal of creating a 3-d dungeon game, They rounded up Rick Johnson, Ben Gokey (programmers) and Kevin Schilder (musician) and the Black Crypt project was underway. Approximately a year later, a demo was sent to ten different companies. Within three days, there were six contract offers. They eventually signed with Electronic Arts. The Black Crypt was published in March of 1992. Along with a nomination for Game of the Year in the Arcade Adventure category, it won the Super Accolade Award from Amiga Action magazine.

Raven then went on to create Shadowcaster, published by Origin Systems, Incorporated. Shadowcaster was also nominated for Game of the Year in its category. At that point, the company grew from four to ten employees. Next came the action-packed, sci/fi, adventure, CyClones, published by Strategic Simulations, Incorporated (SSI). At around the same time, Raven was teaming up with id Software to create the fantasy action game Heretic. We are now 20 artists, designers and programmers. We've recently released the eagerly-anticipated sequel to Heretic, Hexen and have a 3-d, car, combat game in the works.

Plot: To save the world from fighting devastating wars, champions fight out the battles in vehicles within arenas called Necrodomes. You are one such champion with you gunner or pilot and you fight for your race. Again the fate of your family, world, solar system, and universe depend upon the mindless killing of hundreds and thousands of mindless opponents. Hey its a Doom clone. necrodo4.jpg - 20.5 K

Game play: Shoot everything, pick up power ups, and move on to the next area or arena and start all over. The nicest feature is the cooperative mode, where two can control a tank one the gunner in the turret and the other the pilot or driver. Another nice feature is the ability to leave your car and explore or do combat on foot.

Interface: The cockpit display shows the internal damage, and shield as bar graphs and numbers killed, ammo and speed as digital counters. The controls are best played from the keyboard with a number of hot key commands controlling the turret turn and vehicle speed and direction, weapons and other controls both for the cockpit and turret.

Difficulty: Multiple difficulty settings include dilettante, rookie, raider, veteran, and legend modes giving six levels of challenge for six different skill levels increasing accessibility and replay value. A more complete difficulty matrix similar to that seen in flight simulators would have been preferred and would have given more adjustment to accessibility and replay value.

Powerups: The various power ups available for pickup in the arenas include shield restore and enhance, turbo boost, repair kits, smoke screens, napalm, mines and nukes.

Enemies: You are pitted against a vast array of mindless denizens that unerringly seek you out and wish to destroy you. These include human trackers, rangers, sentinals, and other players, stalker, hunter, marauder, destroyer, mine layer, APC, flamer, and hover tank. necrodo9.jpg - 21.1 K

Arenas: Necrodome comes with over 30 arenas to play in.

Graphics: Graphics display in 320x200 or 640x480 pixel resolution.

Animation: "Unique 3-D rendered cinematics," says Raven, but no hints are given as to how or what is cinenmatic.

Voice actors: No deep textual readings here just kill the hordes of enemies.

Music score: Better than average music that can be turned off but unfortunately not replaced by your own music CDs. Ride of the Valkyries would be nice with this.

Sound effects: Booms and crashes are adequate.

Utilities: Game options allows you to individually set the volume of sound, music, and CD Digital music. Other options control mouse sensitivity, flat shading, background and sky, flat and perspective corrected vehicles and terrain, light level, render distance, screen size, reverse driving realism, resolution and keyboard command mapping.

Documentation: The 21-page sparse manual is unlike the extensive tomes that SSI is known for.

Cheats, Hints and Walkthroughs: Necrodome Cheat Page

Multi-player: Necrodome supports two player phone modem and null modem (serial direct connect) and up to eight player network and internet play. Multi-Player has two different options, Players in different cars, or on the same car as driver/gunner and one in the turret. The combination of competitive and cooperative play is a great addition to the game play of the product. The game comes packaged with a ten disk and plays quite well on the service.

Future plans: Perhaps Raven will share them with us? necmovie.gif - 28.0 K

Glenn Broderick, Computer Player, volume 3, number 6, January, 1997, pg. 63, 80%.