Citadel logo

Reviewed by Tina Hackett

Poor Andy, the guy seems to have done nothing but review Doom-clones since he started here. And feeling rather generous, plus wanting to get all my copy in early so I can clash off on my exotic Winter holiday, I decided to review the first game that came out of the morning's post. It was Citadel, and rather than palming it off on Andy because, let's be honest, I don't know my rocket launcher from my rifle, it was time to brave the Doom clones.

After a cinematic-style intro, you are plunged into the thick of the action with no weapons, no thermal vest, and left with only your wits to survive> things look pretty horrible already, with dismembered bodies hanging from the rafters and nasty sharp-toothed baddies all clamouring for your blood.

First thing on your mind, if you're to get out of this hell hole I one piece, is to find some sort of gun. Then you must kill all the enemies, destroy the Citadel, and make a hasty exit. To do this you must find the six pieces of an annihilation bomb scattered around the levels, put it together, and Bob's your Uncle, so the expression goes.

This was all rather alarming to me. Please bear in mind, this is my first confrontation with these new Doom clones, and what became even more alarming was that as I tried to move around my new surroundings, I was being penalised for doing so,

Well, put it this way, every time you touched a wall, banged into a blooded corpse or other such obstacles, you lost some of your precious life energy. This doesn't happen on Gloom, Fears or Alien Breed 3D, so why have they decided to do this here? If they wanted to make things double hard for the player, I'm sure they could have found another, less irritating way.

The puzzle angle is quite nice, but there were far too many niggles here to make me want to carry on playing

However, when you get used to this, you do find it's not a bad game. You can change the size of the windows and select the detail level to configure the game to your machine - even with high levels of detail on you still get quite a fast game. There is an Easy or Hard option and also a training mode for those who need a bit of practice.

Weapon-wise there is a good selection that will keep even the most hardened gun fetishist happy. As well as your standard gun, you can collect a flame-thrower, rocket launcher and a machine gun. You can also find First Aid Kits and even beer which will affect your character's balance.

As usual, as well as dealing with the enemies, you will also have to solve puzzles which include finding the right magnetic cards to open doors, moving walls, blockades, and various teleports. Enemies are of different intelligence, so creating fighting tactics is also possible.

Graphically, the game is up to the same standard as the other Doom games. There is a good cinematic intro, though, which launches you into the plot nicely and the corridors are clear enough to walk round and actually see what's going on. The atmosphere is enhanced with dramatic tunes throughout and the usual explosions, gunshots and yelps.

Tell me a story

Set in space, in the future (yawn), you are the last remaining survivor of Scout 01, and have been sent to investigate some of the weird goings on happening at a space base called Citadel. Now your companion has been destroyed by a missile and you're left on your own.

The base you are exploring was originally a communications and defence system set on a distant planet. However, following a galactic expansion the military base there lost significance and became just a fuelling point for galactic travellers, but because the colony was miles from anywhere this did not last, and it was soo turned in to a penal reform colony.

Some time later, the colony was officially close because it lay in the path of a meteor storm - it was later found that this was ure fabrication from the Military Galaxy Council who had other plans for it. Laboratory equipment was shipped over and the inmates were subjected to dangerous experiments.

In 2305, however, communication between the planet and Earth ceases so it is decided that a ship should be sent to find out what has happened. And that's where you come in.


Doom, Doom, Doom. Just in case you're not sick of hearing about it, here are the previous clones on the Amiga.

Alien Breed 3D 91%: Alien Breed 3D is and always will be one of the finest Doom clones on the Amiga.

Gloom 81%: As soon as you fire a bullet at one of the opposing soldiers they will burst into little bits and leave an awful mess on the floor.

Fears 92%: The atmospheric sounds are fantastic, truly setting the scene and preparing you for a trip into the unknown.

Behind the Iron Gate 64%: I will warn you that if you decide to invest you will be wishing for Doom as you play it.

Yet to see
Speed (won't be ready for a while yet)
Ubek (a Polish release, or so I'm informed)

final word

Citadel is a good game in its own right - the problem arises however, when you compare it to the other Doom games that have gone before it. This looks the part but unfortunately, because you are continually damaged by walking into walls (yes, even though this is realistic) it does nothing to enhance the gameplay and just continually aggravates the player.

The puzzle angle is quite nice, but there were far too many niggles here to make me want to carry on playing. Continual disk-swapping is also very tedious. Try the other first-person perspective shoot-'em-ups on the market first because although this is by no means the worst game, it's definitely not the best.

Citadel logo

Steve McGill is feeling vaguely brave and stars in a brilliant, new, horror-movie style game where his days are numbered and life is looking bleak.

Bible worth of text have been written about and contributed to the hyperbole and hoopla surrounding the idea of the interactive movie. In theory, it sounds great; in practice, it's a crock - delivering no more than a motley collection of full-motion video clips, costing more than the development costs of an average Amiga game.

A waste of resources and a waste of time. Especially when you consider the scope of games that could be turned out by the likes of Polish development team Arrakis with less than half the money allocated to posturing PC game developers.

Take Citadel, their first commercial UK release. It represents what the concept of interactive movies should be all about. If ever there was a game that tries hard at being all things to all men, it's Citadel.

No matter which Amiga you own, Citadel will run on it. No matter which Amiga the gamer owns, they can now engage in a 3D, first person perspective, immersive world. Nor more info on the technical aspects, check out our Accelerated Gameplay boxout.

Much like the brand name of Hoover becoming synonymous with all vacuum cleaners, Citadel has to suffer under the coined branding of 'Doom clone'. An unfair slander on Citadel and other so-called Doom clones, such as Gloom, Fears and Alien Breed.

The crux of the matter doesn't come down to what the game's called, however. The enjoyability of the game lies in the use of the perspective, the pace of the gameplay, the credibility of the plot, the actions of the denizens poised against you and the execution of the control system mechanics used to keep everything finely balanced and working in tune.
Citadel is mostly perfect in these departments. But not quite.

The plot is strong and gives the gamer focus - find the pieces of a large bomb and blow a complex full of horrible genetic experiments into oblivion. This is your cue to play seek, destroy and collect throughout the seven main areas of the huge complex.

Of course, it's not always the player who's doing the seeking. The beasties you're up against exhibit a fairly highly level of artificial intelligence and behave in a manner which means that slack or sloppy play is punished mercilessly; even competent and inspired play can be penalised. More so if the hardest difficulty has been selected.

The nasties behave in a manner which means that sloppy play is punished mercilessly.

In fact, much like Fears, there's a bone of contention here concerning a couple of the installed play mechanisms. Bumping into walls takes damage of your man.

Admittedly, this only happens while playing the hard difficulty level, but things are difficult enough without adding to the pain. What's more, on the hard level weapons eventually malfunction due to damage. When faced with a barrage of fire from all sides, it isn't pleasant to be left with a malfunctioning weapon.

Much more pleasant, but still managing to keep you on your toes, sweating with concentration, is the easy level. It makes the game accessible and opens up more of Citadel's pleasures to the gamer, but still remains fiendishly difficult - verging on too difficult.

The reason's simple. Independent game testing. There wasn't any. Citadel was tested by the in-house development team at Arrakis. Admittedly, most of the testing was carried out by coders not working directly on Citadel, but they're still too close to the game.

But looking the positive side, there are many, many good things about Citadel; the multitude and variety of creatures, the weapons and ammo, the credibility of the surroundings, the skill required to proceed satisfactorily, the satisfaction gained from completing a level, the configurability of the program to suit your hardware and, most of all, the entertainment factor.

If we go back to the introduction for a minute and think of first person perspective games like Citadel as movies, then Breed 3D could be considered an action thriller, like Aliens, that's tense and always on the go. Gloom is a Steven Seagal movie with non-stop action that never lets up until you're mentally exhausted.

Citadel would be a horror movie like Day of the Dead. You know everyone's going to die, except for one or two people. That's what Citadel's like. Most times out you know you're going to die, but there's enough chance and optimism to make it through at least once. And that's what makes you come back for more and more. Exciting and dangerous stuff indeed.

The most impressive technical element of Citadel is the unobtrusively efficient manner in which it utilises and exploits available hardware. It almost bends over backwards to ensure that players, no matter what model or configuration of Amiga they own, will be able to obtain an acceptable running speed. Here's a run-down of what can be done:

There are three levels of detail, high meidum and low. The highest level includes permanent effects like blood splashes, impaled corpses... that kind of thing. The textures for the floor and the ceiling can also be switched off. As is the norm these days, running speed is significantly increased.

MINIMUM DETAIL: Ensures that items such as guns are visible.

MEDIUM DETAIL: With floor and ceiling texture on things look good.

MAX DETAIL: Hard to think this is the same as the screen on the left.

The main determinant in the running speed of Citadel is that of screen size. There are eight in all, ranging from sub-atomically small, to full-screen big. The smallest could be likened to looking out of a post box, while wearing slitted glasses. The largest, well, it's great - it makes you feel like you're almost there.

SMALLEST SCREEN: Runs like the wind, this screen. Even on an A500.

MIDDLE SCREEN: Similar to Breed 3D. Good for unexpanded A1200s.

BIGGEST SCREEN: Owners of accelerators can revel in this screen.

Citadel logo

Magazines. Very useful things.

Quick, somebody help me, I've been infected by a computer game. (Oh, wait. Wait. There's a joke here. - Ed.) You see this isn't the first time I've written this Citadel review. The first time, it was all over the place. It had all the right bits in, except for the bits that weren't, but was a mish-mash that needed rewriting. Exactly, in fact, like Citadel itself. (Is it a virus? Damn. Damn. - Ed.)

For those of you who can't tell from the overload of texture-mapping in the screenshots, Citadel is the latest in the ever-growing list of games that are either trying to be Doom or like Doom - but on the Amiga. But the bonus with this game is that it's the first texture-mapped lookalike to work on the A500.

Okay, running it on an A500 doesn't exactly give you fast-moving, precise, full-screen high-detailed stuff, but still, eh? It's playably workable at about a quarter-screen size, and there are detail levels and floors to turn off (how do you turn off a floor? No matter) if you feel the need. Unlike the forthcoming Gloom you don't even need a special accelerator, for which the programmers deserve a round of applause.

Gun bobbing about

With all the options set appropriately thanks to a bit of trial and error (reap the rewards of my labours by examining the options boxes elsewhere on these pages), I then concentrated on getting through the game. I was, it appeared, a lone commando sent to subdue an overrun penal colony.

My task would be complete once I reclaimed the control centre, but I could also go looking for six parts of a bomb and er, set it off I suppose, although I'd presumably then be dead. But I was undoubtedly too tough a lone commando to care. Growl.

Citadel has a great initial impact. You are, indeed, alone on a desolate space station, and there's much to take in just wandering around for a while. Highly impressive. It's only when you've been playing the game a bit and have moved through loads of rooms and started killing things that obstacles start getting in the way of your fun. Lots of little obstacles that seem to grow in annoyance each time you come across them.

Somebody help me

The first and biggest problem is the targeting and hitting of the enemy. To shoot anything, even if you have a traditionally wide-spreading shotgun, the alien or nondescript thug MUST be in the center of the screen. And without a path of bullets to watch fly down the room (like Gloom) or a gun bobbing about (like Fears) this is a real hassle. You end up trying to get closer to the aliens to line up a shot, and, of course, they're blasting away all the while.

Hey - why not just keep your distance and blaze away, overwhelming them with firepower? A sound idea, but it's not long before you notice something quite ridiculous - a real lack of weapons and ammo. You actually start the game without a gun (thanks, lone commando headquarters) and can't fight anything until you find one (second door on the left in the first main room, basic survival fans).

What's wrong with giving the lone commando a default knife or something? That way, when you run out of ammo (which you will, repeatedly) YOU'LL STILL HAVE A CHANCE.

But, you could argue, this adds a strategic element to the game. Something to think about while you're blowing things up the walls. And it does. But the sheer lack of anything collectable in addition to the difficulty of hitting a target and the ferocity of the aliens' attacks make the game frustratingly hard. I can't help thinking that Black Legend would have done better to include an infinite supply of ammo. Forcing you to conserve bullets and try to dodge trouble hobbles the fun of the game.

Because, annoyingly, it is fun. All its faults can be worked around (with varying degrees of patience - the inescapable ROOM OF DEATH, for example, the teleporter to which looks no different from any other, so leading you to be wary of going off and exploring, INVITES REVENGE) and it is addictive.

Bonus tasks like finding the bomb parts reward repeated playing, and it's satisfyingly gory. (You can - hurrah - set fire to people and watch them scurry around aflame). And at least they've tried to be different.

Citadel is an unsuccessful hybrid of action and strategy. Perseverance pays off, but there're too many things to think about (lining up that alien and the like) when you should be trying to finish the level. It all gets in the way too much.

Citadel logo

Price: £29.99 Publisher: Black Legend 01438 840003

The fourth and final instalment in the current batch of Doom clones arrives. Would Citadel please stand forward and make itself known?

It's funny the sort of thought processes that happen while evaluating a game. Often you start off with a wrong impression or expectation only to find, over the course of days, weeks even, that things are different, that your initial judgement was either right or wrong. With Citadel my mind changed several times and just prove I am not alone, so did the opinion of the rest of the office too.

There's absolutely no reason why I should tell you about the plot of Citadel, because if you don't have a handle on first person perspective Doom-style games by now you're either genuinely not interested, in which case you shouldn't be reading this, or German, where the laws of the land proscribe too much violence in computer games.

Suffice to say that the aim is to create a game atmosphere with so much realism that it seriously excites the adrenal glands in a way that no top-down or side-on view shoot 'em up ever has.

When Citadel was originally previewed it was a bit of a mystery. Having been used to blocky graphics in both Gloom and Alien Breed 3D, Citadel came as a surprise. Even up close, most of its features remained solid and the enemies, from marines to the ubiquitous floating worms looked convincing enough, even though their animation was a bit dodgy.

Adding to the mystery was the fact that all of the text was in Polish )the developers, Arrakis Software and the unfortunately named VD are based in Gdansk), including the options and loading screen and the on-screen prompts.

On screen prompts? Yep. This is a bit of a departure for Doom-esque adventures. Citadel finds itself sitting (somewhat uncomfortably I found) on the fence between an old style graphic or text adventure and the new breed of shoot 'em up with which it so readily identifies.

Not only does a little Reuters-style scrolling text bar at the bottom of the screen let you know what you've picked up when you run over an object, if you press fire without a weapon in his hand your character will 'examine' an object, area or wall.

Sometimes this yields something onto another set level, you can choose one of two which are accessible. In this way you can get more experience of the maze.

I've said it's difficult and it is, so thankfully Arrakis have included practice levels for each part of the Citadel. To have a hope of getting through the game you really need to play these practice levels first. Indeed, in many ways, true Doom seekers will enjoy the practice modes better than the real game because they are absolutely filled with handy weapons and dastardly enemies.

Runs on A500s
The really big news about Citadel though is the fact that theoretically it will run on an A500. You need 1Mb of RAM but yes, we've tried it on one and lo and behold it loads, it moves, it plays. That's something which AB3D, Gloom or Fears don't have! Though Mark Sibly is promising an ECS version of Gloom.

I say theoretically because although strictly speaking it does, i.e. it loads up and you can start playing it, it's pretty cheesy in fact it's like wading through a vat full of hot Gorgonzola with no peg on your nose. If you've ever seen the part in the A-Team where everyone goes into slow motion while there's a battle going on you'll have a rough idea of what Citadel is like on a basic Amiga, even if there isn't a battle in progress.

Luckily you can scale the screen down to one fifth of its normal size and reduce the detail. This actually results in a faster game on an A500+ than on an A4000 040 in full screen mode. Unfortunately by this stage the playing screen is the size of a postage stamp, but boy does it fly. A pair of binoculars would be handy.

The news isn't that much better on an A1200, believe it or not. It's still slow compared to either AB3D or Gloom. Only when you get into speed realms of about 50Mhz (in either 030 or 040 form) take your pick) does Citadel really shine. Its speed is really top class with a decent machine behind it.

Tough decision
There are many things I don't like about Citadel though. The text bar at the bottom of the playing screen does get annoying from time to time for instance. When you bang into the wall it starts spewing out statements like 'ouch!' and 'watch where you're going' which are, quite frankly, very unamusing.

The other thing about crashing into walls is that Arrakis have chosen to completely ruin their lovely close up graphics by deliberately corrupting them if you hit a wall. There is no need for this. A game like Citadel is supposed to convey at least some sense of realism, but the last time my sense went all fuzzy simply by banging into a wall (and I don't make a habit of this sort of thing readers) was when I braked too hard on my bike and went flying over the handle bars, age 12.

Another thing I didn't like was lack of power in some of the weapons. A double barrelled shotgun looks impressive, but isn't. Also, although effective, the flame gun simply lights up your enemy but doesn't 'down' them and if they touch you you'll lose power points.

On the up side though Arrakis have built in a brilliant mouse/joystick/keyboard control system that warmed my fingers with delight. With any game of this ilk, aiming your gun using the direction keys is a bit difficult, but using the mouse, precise shooting could be initiated.

As I said at the beginning, opinions on Citadel shifted like sand. One moment it was slow and rubbish, next it was 'take a look at this, it's much better on an accelerated machine'. So it's a difficult one to score. On an standard A1200 it's worth about 78% and as a Doom clone it's worth about 70%. But then again, Arrakis never intended it to be a direct Doom clone, it has too much of an adventure angle to it for that.

If you look at it as a shoot 'em-up/adventure hybrid and whack it onto a machine with oodle of fast RAM or a decent accelerator, it's worth about 85%.

Finally I'm really going to stick my neck out here, but there is just no alternative to Citadel for A500 owners at the moment, despite the minuscule screen size you have to play it on. So get it.

Size matters
Citadel is designed to run on any Amiga with 1Mb of RAM. However, try running it at the standard screen size on an A500 and it's laughable. To help out there are a total of 8 different screen sizes and you can reduce the graphic detail and get rid of floors and ceiling. All of which will make it run like lightning on any machine - but at a cost.

An entry for the Royal Mail's new 'Doom' commemorative stamp? No, this is Citadel's screen setting number one. Pass the binoculars.

This is screen size number three. More manageable than the postage stamp it gets the speed just about right on a basic A1200 but chugs on an A500.

The default screen size five. If you're happy to move forward occasionally on an A500 or chug along on an A1200 then this is the mode for you.

For Clint Eastwood fans. Here's the wide-screen mode of setting six. This is big-accelerator-in-A1200 territory without a doubt.

Glorious full screen mode, but slower than a BR train with autumn leaves on the track in front of it. This is 50MHz 030 and 040 territory.

You can also turn off all the floor and ceiling and reduce detail to a minimum. This doesn't affect the quality of the surrounding graphics, just the extras.