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The Chaos Engine Remastered (PC Review)

 
Chaos Engine Remastered Logo
Chaos Engine Remastered Logo
Chaos Engine Remastered Logo

 
At a Glance...
 

Formats: PC. Linux & Mac
 
Year:
 
Publisher:
 
Developer: ,
 
Final Score
6.0
6/ 10


User Rating
1 total rating

 

We liked?


  • Essentially IS the original Amiga game
  • Ability to play co-op over internet a bonus
  • Classic example of Bitmap Brothers and Amiga design at its best

Not so much?


  • Anti-alias effect washes out some of the pixel details
  • Can become stuck in levels with no hope other than a restart
  • It Is essentially untouched from 20 years ago and it shows
  • You'll find a 1001 clones on your smartphone based on this original


Final Fiendish Findings?

The Chaos Engine Remastered is a tricky game for me to score. My head tell me it’s out dated, clunky and there are better clones available for my phone. My heart tells me it’s just as great as it’s ever been, the game play is still relevant 20 years later and my stupid head should shut the hell up!

2
Posted September 3, 2013 by

 
Full Fiendish Findings...
 
 

The Chaos Engine Remastered takes one of my favourite Amiga 500/1200 titles and attempts to introduce it to those who might have missed out when the game first dropped way back in 1993.

Created initially by the legendary Bitmap Brothers, The Chaos Engine garnered praise from all corners of the world with its great looks, sweet soundtrack, innovative co-op rpg style game play and lashings of that trademark Bitmap Brothers style.

Travel forward these 20 years and what delights have publisher Mastertronic and game updaters Abstraction lavished on this once bastion of Amiga gaming… erm, they made stuff shiny and added netcode….

OK that was flippant and largely a dick-move on my part.  The Chaos Engine Remastered’s development team have made it fairly clear that their remit was to take the original AGA Amiga version and make it available to the masses – tinkering with nothing.  In fact this was clarified in an interview with Digital Spy back at Rezzed this year when they spoke to Producer Neil McKenna and he stated:

“”We haven’t added any new playable characters, any weapons, messed around with the balancing, any of that.  It’s our intuition that people just want to play The Chaos Engine, they didn’t want to play some crass HD remake which we’ve all seen.  We’ve seen dozens of terrible remakes of classic games. When we sat down and looked at it, it didn’t even need that.  The gameplay, even though it is old-fashioned, it just works really well. You just need to add anything in.”

Chaos Engine Remastered screen shot

So, as far as their aspirations are concerned they’ve been wholly successful.  This is The Chaos Engine from the Amiga running on a PC.  I can attest to that in several ways.  Firstly I played the life out of the original on the Amiga 1200.  Secondly I’ve played it very recently via my Amiga Forever install on my arcade machine – hell I even fired it up on the A1200 a few months back to have a tinker.

The addition of more checkpoints and adding save points is a godsend to those frustrated easily by lack of progression.  The original would see you sent straight back to the start if you died in the later levels normally only offering you a level code to resume your progress.  Now you can just select to start from the last save point – the level codes are still there though and you can even use the original Amiga ones.  Being able to choose between the original 8-way controls or going for the more common analogue control method used in today’s games was nice and the game translates to the Xbox 360 game pad well too.

The reason this is all so accurate and the codes still work is that this is just the Amiga version, tinkered with, and wrapped inside am emulator.  It’s easy to scoff at that but if you’d played the updated Speedball on Xbox Live you’d know that re-writing a classic game is not as simple as it seems (that game stunk btw just to give you some context!).

Chaos Engine Remastered - Original Look

Original Look

Chaos Engine Remastered - Enhanced Look

Enhanced Look

Graphically the game still has a distinct style to it.  You can toggle between the advanced and original look to the game with a press of Alt+E.  That said there is little more at work here than some anti-aliasing and making the top of things shine in a flickery kind of way.  The anti-aliasing is nice and smooths those rough low-res edges.  It does obliterate some of the detail of the objects though at times and the shiny effect is almost enough to make me play through with enhanced mode turned off.

 

Sound has been tweaked and extra clarity and channel have come to use by the sounds of it.  This just enhances Richard Joseph’s original score wonderfully and is easily the best “update” in the game.  Joseph wrote some iconic gaming scores and his talent is still sorely missed in the industry.

 

The original game play elements that made the game such fun are all still in play.  The expansive levels, varied characters, weapon types and specials are all here.  As promised by the team nothing appears to have been tinkered with in any way.

Levels are just the same as well, as appears to be the enemy AI and level logic.  This can lead to some frustrations at times when enemies get stuck stupidly on geometry in the levels and the appearance that all enemies single out the human player (in single player mode that is).  Also you can become stuck at times if you pick up one of the new restart tokens, move to an area of a level that blocks your return and then you die.  This leaves you stranded on the other side of a wall you can’t move… time to restart the level then!

The game always did play better in co-op and this outing is no different.  The two player local works well and runs smoothly enough.  I did have trouble at times finding someone else to play with using online co-op.  When I did get a counterpart it worked just as well as local play.

Chaos Engine Remastered Shop Screen

Final Thoughts

The Chaos Engine Remastered is a tricky game for me to score.  My head tell me it’s out dated, clunky and there are better clones available for my phone.  My heart tells me it’s just as great as it’s ever been, the game play is still relevant 20 years later and my stupid head should shut the hell up!

I think more could and should have been done to update this franchise.  A “proper” HD version would have been much appreciated – even if it was just the same game play underneath.  Sony have done some great work in this area over the past 12 – 18 months.

That said it will delight the Amiga enthusiast crowds and hopefully drum up more interest in updating the classic Amiga titles from years back – so many still languish unloved in the annuals of gaming time.  For those familiar with the original and who already have a love for it then you’re going to be in for a treat.


Zeth

 
Zeth is our EU ninja and Editor in Chief. He's been writing about video games since 2008 when he started on BrutalGamer. He's pretty old and has been a gamer since he played Space Invaders as a young boy in the 80's. His genre tastes lean towards platformers, point-and-click adventure, action-adventure and shooters but he'll turn his hand to anything.


  • Peter

    “Being able to choose between the original 8-way controls or going for the more common analogue control method used in today’s games was nice and the game translates to the Xbox 360 game pad well too.”
    To clarify this – can it be played as a twin-stick shooter, ala Smash TV? Or is it the traditional controls of stick + buttons, but allows for greater numbers of angles thanks to the analogue stick?

    • Zeth Ward

      It’s not like Smash TV mate – it’s stick and shoot in those directions using the buttons to fire. You can’t move as you shoot other thank in a 360 degree rotational field.