Death Mask logo

For too long, PC owners have been able to bask in the knowledge that only they could ever experience the excitement of Doom. Now Amiga owners have finally got their own 3D rival. Gareth Lofthouse chooses his weapons and shoots from the hip.


A quest to seek your way out of huge labyrinthine dungeons. A host of evil monsters of increasing ferocity with a taste for your blood. A hero whose main challenge is to storm around firing indiscriminately at anything that moves, perhaps pausing momentarily to snatch the odd power-up.

This hardly sounds like the basis of a ground-breaking game, yet it's exactly what lies at the heart of the most lauded game of the '90s - ID Software's Doom. The concept is old-hat, but somehow its developers managed to fill this classic with enough suspense and adrenaline-
fuelled action to turn the gaming world upside down.

Now, after all too long a wait, software houses are attempting to imitate that success on the Amiga, and the first of the bunch is Alternative Software with the darkly futuristic Death Mask. System puts its fire power to the test.


Death Mask is set in a future in which mankind has recklessly exploited the possibilities of genetic engineering in an attempt to design desirable and useful living beings. Naturally, during experimentation many lifeforms are created that are abhorrent to their creators.

Exhibiting a typically human sense of responsibility, these 'aliens' are packed off to stay safely out of sight on other planets. Left to struggle for survival, some of these creatures developed their own societies.

You and your twin are rat mutants and members of the Death Mask, an elite military corp charged with the defense of your home planet. Now, as other aliens and their agents mount a mass invasion, your mission is to protect and survive.



Great graphics, sensational sound and a better than average storyline thrown into the bundle - add it up and surely you get a winning title. But of course, you'll realise from that line alone that this isn't the case; the trimmings in Death Mask are good, but at heart it's just a turkey.
The irritating thing is that it was almost a very good effort. Not long ago, I'd have said a game like Doom couldn't be done on the Amiga but now I'm not so sure.

Admittedly they've used small windows to display the action, but it's all very pacey considering the level of detail. It's not limitations on the Amiga that cause the problems, but rather a combination of frustrating misjudgements in design.

To start with, the whole point of the game is that it's a shoot-'em-up. It's rather disastrous, therefore, that the collision detection is hopelessly inaccurate, allowing you to blow cobs of flesh off monsters nowhere near your gun sights.

Players should be encouraged to fight intelligently, but in Death Mask there's not much point in trying. Battles occur in narrow corridors which leave you trapped in face-to-face shoot outs, pummeling the fire button with a mindless lack of interest.

Each level may have a different look, but the initial interest this provokes soon fades. Up to now I've found few things to arouse my curiosity, for whereas Doom is full of surprises, Death Mask feels like you're playing a paint ball game in a dressed-up warehouse.

So far, for example, I haven't come across any stairways, lifts, secret switches or puzzles. Some of these features may well exist later on, but having played it for as long as I did without having my appetite whetted, it's not surprising if I gave up hope.

It's good that a two-player option has been included, and even better that ten arenas have been developed so that players can go head to head against each other.

Unfortunately, even the pleasure of strafing friends with cannon fire failed to compensate for flaws in the game engine. The directions you can move in are so restricted that conflicts were too often resolved on the basis of luck rather than still.




More than in any other game genre, it's important that players lose themselves in the experience, and Doom proved how important audio is in allowing them to do this,. Fortunately, sound on the Amiga is impressive by any standards, and Alternative Software have done a lot to exploit its capabilities in Death Mask.

Everything sounds like it's been sampled for realism. Convincing gun-fire, pump-action loading, groaning mechanical doors and cries of pain add another dimension to your subterranean struggle. Even in quieter moments, the player's footsteps echo as they rush through silent halls.

The music is also exceptionally good for the style of game, with a sinister theme preparing you for the conflict before you start.




There's a great deal to admire about the look of this game and in some respects it's good enough to surprise even the most devoted Amiga fan. On an A1200 the movement is swift, even in two-player mode with the detail turned on high.

The backgrounds are impressive and good enough in places to give Doom a run for its money. Unfortunately, it doesn't have enough atmospheric detail, such as flickering lights and gloomy depths, to maximise the suspense.

Each level has a different appearance ranging from science labs to bio-mechanical wall-textures. Mission targets like nuclear reactors or encased embryos are equally impressive.

So far so good, but there are some problems. In Doom, the monsters look like they'd tear your head off as soon as you blink. In Death Mask, the enemy charges at you like it's got the contents of its bowels dangling in its pants; in short, they can be ludicrous rather than frightening. The 3D view is not always perfect either. This is most noticeable when you turn round, because what you see doesn't reflect the true design of the room you're in.




Nobody would have been happier than me if this game had turned out to be as good as it looked. I've always got time for simple, break-neck paced action accompanied by the sound of heavy artillery as players blaze their way to success.

Unfortunately, the excitement that Death Mask superficially promises is rarely delivered. This is a great shame, because you get the feeling that it was much more than a slap dash effort on the developer's part.

Getting 3D graphics of this quality moving swiftly and smoothly must have been a challenge, and the outstanding sound lends the game impressive gravity. Ultimately, however, the gameplay was not rewarding enough to keep me coming back.

It's of little consolation to Alnternative Software, but what Death Mask shows is that the Amiga has the potential to support a good game in the Doom genre. Team 17 are currently working on a variant of their own, so let's hope they meet with greater success.

Death Mask logo AGA

It takes two to tango, but if you don't like soft drinks, here's Death Mask, the best two-player outing for ages. Steve Bradley gets on with the shooting business.

In this time of indecision, this period of inactivity in the house of Commodore, let ups be positive. We have Amigas. We like our Amigas, and we want to use our Amigas. And in the context of games, it's vitally important that software support is forthcoming.

Recent reports indicate that the Amiga share of the computer games market over the Christmas period was an impressive 56 per cent. Yes, 56 per cent, leaving the PC and Mac trailing. People are still buying Amiga games in droves. Predictably, many have suggested that last Christmas was indeed the last Christmas for the Amiga, but if programmers can write some decent, original games (and Commodore can get some boxes on the shelves) then there is no reason why next Christmas should not be white.

Look, this game is Death Mask, and it really is a step in the right direction. It's available on CD32, there's also a 1Mb version (fewer levels and slightly inferior control when using CD32 pad) and not, as you might expect, an AGA-only version. Goodo.

A first-person perspective shoot-em-up, you wander along corridors, search rooms, collect power-ups, annihilate the baddies, destroy the nuclear reactors and head for the exit to the next level. And by God, it's fun. Bloody good fun.

Yet mongers of doom abound. "This isn't Doom," they cry. "Nor is it Wolfenstein," others quip with glee. And they're right. It isn't. Graphically, it falls short of the mark, though it doesn't look bad - sacrificing looks for speed is often, and in this case, a worthy move.

The enemy move in blocks rather than gradually advancing, which reminded one commentator of Terry Gillian's Monty Python animations. And whenever you're involved in bloody combat, it's always at 180 degrees, so you can't conceal yourself and get in sneaky shots, and if you haven't picked up some decent weapons you can get shot to pieces early doors.

More gripes. In two-player games, both protagonists are identical - both wear red tops and both look like they're sporting brown paper bags over their heads as if preparing for a Post Office raid. And some have found it far too easy to complete. Make no mistake, this game could be better, but at least programmers Apache have shown a way forward. Team 17 have Alien Breed 3D on board, Grandslam a Wolfenstein clone in the pipeline and there are others ready to hop on a similar bus.

Once you've got the big gun, your aim is to hunt down your opponent like a small animal.

To Death Mask. There are three ways to play: one-player against the fiends, two-players against the fiends, (that's friendly toward each other, although you can shot each other by 'mistake') and a magnificent, two-player head-to-head were you aim to do it to them before they... you get the idea.

The head-to-head option has 10 different maps of varying complexity and it's in this mode that Death Mask excels. These battles can turn into a race to collect power-ups around a maze of corridors before inevitable carnage, or a one-on-one, out-and-out blast to the death and in some circumstances, a pedestrian game of cat and mouse - the most tremendously tense of affairs.

A map facility kindly offers advice as to your position (though you can't look at the map and move simultaneously), which is much needed when you have considerably superior firepower to your opponent, your sole aim, to hunt him down like a small animal.

Trouble is, every time you access the map, they can spot where both of you are and react accordingly. All part of the fun.

Rattle and hum
But what you really need to play Death Mask is VOLUME. The sound is amazing, from the clunking footsteps, to the rattle of gunfire, to the atmospheric background hum broken by the occasional drum thump. Linked to speakers or a decent TV, lights dimmed, it's compulsive fare.

Death Mask is somewhat linear when battling the computer baddies. Wander and fire is the order, which doesn't afford the game a deal of longevity - often you have the choice to whack the firebutton, blasting one after another repeatedly, or retreat to a quiet corner. And in the two-player game, one can open the map and do nowt, while the other can shoot around, using the map and do the job, preparing a safe route to the exit.

Alternative are the first commercial softie to release this type of game (Psygnosis' Hired Guns took a slightly different form) and no doubt many more will follow suit over the coming months.

Death Mask, despite its various shortcomings is enormous fun, head-to-head mode in particular. Despite reservations, a hit.

Verdoomt blutig

Death Mask logo AGA

Hier wurde ein Alptraum der Jugendschützer zur digitalen Realität: Der erste "Duum"-Abkömmling für den Amiga bringt so viel Brutalität auf den Screen, daß das jüngst indizierte "Mortal Kombat" sich dagegen wie eine harmlose Kinderbalgerei ausnimmt!

Pislang war Alternative Sotware ja im wahrsten Sinne des Wortes auf billige Spiele spezialisiert, doch wollte man sich die Vollpreischance auf die erste Adaption des längst indizierten PC-Klassikers von ID für (alle) Commodore-Rechner keinesfalls entgehen lassen.

Möglich wird sie durch einen Kniff: Hier scrollen die Dungeons nicht wirklich stufenlos in 360 Grad, statt dessen wird im Winkel von 90 Grad umgeschaltet - der Karneval des Todes ist also eine Art "Eye of the Beholder" für Metzger. Am A1200er klappt das ausgemacht flüssig, was viel für die angekündigte CD-Version erwarten läßt.

Death Mask ist übrigens der Name jener Elitetruppe, die hier im Jahre 9030 den Planeten Hiha aufräumt. Konzipiert ist ihr Auftrag als Zweispieler-Game mit Splitscreen (der auch im Solo-Modus bestehen bleibt), wobei man die Wahl hat, entweder 32 Paßwortgesicherte Levels gemeinsam nacheinander leerzuballern oder sich zehn nach Gusto anzusuchen, um sich darin gegenseitig zu beharken.

So oder so gibt's eine komfortable Übersichtskarte inklusive Bewegungsmelder, ein Messer und 'ne Schrotflinte als Grundausstattung - Munition, Medizinkästen, Türkarten oder bessere Waffen wie MP und Blaster müssen gefunden werden. Im Duell-Modus kommen dann noch Tarnkappen und Klon-Hologramme zum Täuschen des Gegners hinzu.

Nun darf man sich hier aber leider keine 1:1-Kopie der berühmt berüchtigten Adrenalinbombe vom PC erwarten, denn viele der Features, die die ID-Vorlage erst zum Kultspiel gemacht haben, fehlen: Man kann sich weder richtig an seine Feinde (die CPU hält allerlei Aliens und Terroristen bereit) anschleichen noch ausweichen oder gar seitwärts laufen - ob ein oder zwei Söldner unterwegs sind, hier zählt stets der schnellere Ballerfinger.

Auch das Leveldesign ist alles andere als spektakulär, zudem drohen die Computergegner oft nur mit martialischen Posen, um dann letztlich gar nicht loszuschlagen. Was die Grafik angeht, hat man sich zu sehr auf die erregende Wirkung von Blutstürzen verlassen, denn alles in allem sind die hiesigen Ballerkerker arg spartanisch ausgestattet.

Und in puncto Sound ist es schade, daß die düstere Musik dem Intro vorbehalten bleibt, schußgeräusche und Todesschreie allein machen nämlich noch keinen stimmigen Soundtrack.

Obwohl der Hersteller also seine Chance hätte besser nützen können, steht diese Schlachtplatte am Amiga natürlich konkurrenzlos da - zumindest bis zum Erscheinen von "Alien Breed 3D". Oder bis sie von der BPS aus dem Verkehr gezogen wird, je nachdem, was zuerst passiert. (mm)

Death Mask logo AGA CD32

Doom on the Amiga. Or is it? Or IS it? OR IS IT? Not really, no.

Normally I don't get much time to review games, stretched to nervous breaking point as I am through trying to force the endemically lazy AMIGA POWER to hit deadlines, so it was a bit of a luxury to come back after the Christmas break and have plenty of time t sit around and play a game I've been looking forward to.

Death Mask is the first of the Doom-style games that we've been speculating about (very idly) in this mag for some time. For those of you who emulate the bears and hibernate all winter, thereby missing our erudite meditations, Doom is a game that has 'revolutionised' PC gaming..

This is more than a little surprising when you consider that it's essentially a 3D maze with ultra-violence (time was that '3D maze' was a phrase associated with PD programmers of the most limited imagination). Still, no matter, the PC game is revolutionised and by the sort of 'trickle-down' effect so favoured by '80s Conservative politicians, so shall the Amiga game also be revolutionised. Probably.

Death Mask can be played two ways. The first presents you with 32 levels of 3D maze fun that can be played by one or two players. Some levels require only that you find the exit and leave, some demand that you kill all the oppositions before you can leave, and sometimes you have to find or destroy an object.

The rationale for all this mindless mayhem is some baloney about it being the year 9030, you being hybrid rat/men with daft names (and shotguns, natch) and the aliens coming. Oh dear.
The second way of playing Death Mask is competitively, palyer against player, over any one of ten specially designed levels.

The controls are effective enough on the CD32 with the shoulder buttons swiveling you around and the joypad moving you left, right, forward and back but keeping you facing the same way. The red button is fire and the yellow brings up the map. Moving around is confusing at first, but, with time, the controls became instinctive.

Which is a shame

Death Mask is a poor man's Doom. Its 3D maze is all a bit of a trick, given away by the square-by-square movement of the characters. No smoothly-moving, virtual 3D environments here. Instead we get step-by-step redrawing of the calculated position and viewpoint of each player which gives an artificial feel to the game.

It also means that all the levels are designed by square (or, in fact, to give DM its full credit, half-square by half-square) and this does make everything look the same. There are plenty of different wall textures on different levels, but it's difficult to tell where you are on any particular level without the help of the map.

In fairness, Apache have named some areas on each level so that a little message comes up saying 'supply room' or whatever, but this is a poor substitute and you're left feeling that you're playing a computer game rather than wandering around a distant planet in the far future. You just don't feel like you 'are' there. Which is a shame.

The plus, and presumably the reason that Death Mask has been set up this way, is that it runs smoothly and quickly. No matter how complicated the level, no matter how many monsters are on-screen, the action never slows down. In fact the only noticeable pauses are when the next chunk of (surprisingly pleasant) background music loads from the CD.

You're dead
Death Mask is particularly disappointing in the player vs player game, which should be the best part. There's nothing to beat the tense excitement of player-on-player action: hiding around corners trying to tell the location of the other players by his footsteps; rushing headlong across open spaces while firing off bursts of machine gun fire, laying ambushes; exchanging snapshots when your ammo runs low; and so on.

Unfortunately, in Death Mask the excitement is marred by the lack of meaningful sounds; the uncertainty of where you are; the over abundance of (yes!) regenerating ammunition; and the fact that you can see where your opponent is on your map (and that consequently he can see where you are on your map as well just by looking at your half of the screen). Every competitive game I played ended with the protagonists standing toe-to-toe and shooting it out. Dull.

The other big problem that the game faces is that it's just too easy. With the aid of Jonathans both Nash and Davies, I completed the 32 levels in just over five hours on the first day of trying. Only three levels caused enough of a problem to make us start them again, so we effectively played straight through them.

What there is of the game is entertaining enough, with plenty of atmosphere and some well designed levels. However, Death Mask just isn't well enough thought out or frankly big enough to justify its price.

One of the truly annoying things about Death Mask is that poor game design has led to inconsistencies in its internal logic. Take the following examples...

Death Mask
I can see him, but I can't shoot him.

Death Mask
I can see him, but I can't shoot him.

Death Mask
I can see him, but I can't shoot him.

Death Mask
I can see him, but I can't shoot him.

There are two kinds of things in Death Mask: Good Things and Bad Things. The Good Things are almost all guns and the Bad Things are all monsters. Learn to recognise them with the aid of this handy guide...

Death Mask
Guys in leather jackets are pushovers. In real life too.

Death Mask
These strange creatures shoot plasma bolts.

Death Mask
Ninja, ninja, on the wall, who's the bloodiest of them all?

Death Mask
Aliens are ugly and reasonably hard.

Death Mask
Hello, it's a Marine. What's he doing in the 91st Century?

Death Mask
Robot vs shotgun? Robot every time. You lose.

Death Mask
I can see him, but... oh, sorry, wrong box.

Death Mask
In the two player mode you can recreate your favourite moments from Quentin Tarantino movies.

Death Mask
If the worst comes to the worst... give up. Start again before attempting to stab killer robots to death.

Death Mask
Mini automatics are like this and fun but the Medegun is THE BEST GUN IN AN AMIGA GAME EVER with its high fire rate, great sound effects and the beautiful way it spins to a stop.


Death Mask
Ever wondered what 91st Century shotguns would look like? Me neither. The Blaster's useless as well. Tch.

Death Mask logo AGA

Price: £25.99 Publisher: Alternative 0977 797 777

"We're all doomed", according to Rik Skews, who has just recovered from a session with Alternative's 3D shoot 'em up.

Beware hyperbole. Especially when it is on the back of a computer game box. Alternative's latest, a Doom style blast 'em up, has reams of the stuff screaming out its praises promising "100% excitement", "Special 3D system concept", "Atmospheric sound and music". It sounds terribly exciting, so what is it all about?

Set in 9030AD, on the planet Hiba, the player is cast as a member of an elite military force known as the Death Mask. Hiba is home to numerous biological misfits, the results of 80th century scientists cracking the genetic code and having a good dabble with it. Things could have got a whole lot worse after the meddling human population managed to blow themselves up nuclear style, but the mutants' altered genes allowed them to resist a massive radiation dose and certain death.

Things gradually returned to normal and all looked rosy, until one day their survival comes under the threat of a massive alien invasion. It is here where the Death Mask team comes into play in the shape of Hiram and Seth, two of the squad's bravest fighters.

Doom wannabe
Playing as Hiram (along with Seth if you have got a friend handy) the player must venture through a total of 35 alien-infested levels. Gameplay takes the form of the classic PC blast 'em up Doom. So far, no-one has managed a decent adaptation of the full screen 3D scrolling graphics of Doom on the Amiga. Death Mask settles for an unimpressive quarter-screen window.

The 3D levels are filled with various baddies armed to the teeth. Some are mere cannon fodder, while others are found guarding a number of randomly placed objects, such as reactors or breeding pods. These must be destroyed before you can reach the exit to the next level. To help the players, a number of weapon power-ups can be found and collected, as well as the more common ammunition clips and medipacks.

A two-player battle mode is also available, complete with a simpler collection of mazes, in which the two combatants can try to blast each other to bits. As well as the regular weapon power-ups there are also 'special' power-ups, such as invisibility.

Any good?
Death Mask is initially appealing, simply because it is about the closest thing yet to Doom on the Amiga. But it is not long before numerous weaknesses begin to show themselves. The game looks good, but only until it starts moving. The animation of the walls and objects is poor. When you turn through 90 degrees, you do not actually get the right animation frames to give the impression of turning. Instead, the graphics 'slide' horizontally to reveal the updated view, as if you have taken a step to one side.

The baddies are so wooden, they could be extras from an edition of a dodgy soap. Their intelligence is also very limited. They tend to either stand around a corner waiting to ambush the player, or they just wade in with guns blazing, making no attempt to avoid being hit.

The levels themselves lack variety and imagination too. It seems like there is a never-ending supply of bland stone walls from one level to the next, with no markings to break the monotony.

Control is suspect at times. To get the map on screen for instance, the joystick has to be rapidly wiggled up and down, making it easy to wander into a horde of nasties without realising. Some of the corridors are also poorly laid out and require pin prick precision to steer the Death Mask mask crew around.

It is not all bad. The sound is atmospheric, thanks to some quality music and suitably crunchy FX. With a little more attention to the level design and in the two-player mode especially, Death Mask would be recommended. As it is, it does not hit the mark.

For many this would be evidence enough that an Amiga Doom clone is not possible on the Amiga. Maybe Team 17's forthcoming Alien Breed 3D will prove otherwise.

Blut & Silber

Death Mask logo CD32

Kaum zu glauben, daß das Spiel mit den meisten Blutspritzern pro Quadratzen-timeter Screenfläche noch immer nicht auf dem Index gelandet ist - sondern die Schalter seiner Schlachtbänke jetzt auch noch auf CD eröffnen darf!

Ob eine Toleranzwelle durch die Republik schwappt oder die BPS-Gutachter beim Anblick dieses "Duum"-Klons einfach ohnmächtig umgekippt sind, wissen wir nicht. Dafür wissen wir, daß sich in den hiesigen Ballerdungeons seit der Diskversion vom April nichts Grundlegendes getan hat: Bis auf ein halbes Dutzend Musikstücke von CD und eine alternative Joypad-Steuerung ist alles beim alten geblieben.

Nun gehören also auch die Besitzer eines CD32 oder eines AGA-Rechners mit Overdrive-Laufwerk zur titelgebenden Elitetruppe, die anno 9030 auf dem Planeten Hiba Aliens, Roboter und andere große Sprites terminieren darf.

Zu Beginn kann man sich seiner Feinde nur mit einer Schrotflinte und einem Messer erwehren, doch mit der Zeit finden sich auch Mgs, Blaster und die dazugehörige Munition. Auch die Lebensenergie ist limitiert und muß bei Bedarf von herumliegenden Erste-Hilfe-Boxen aufgefrischt werden.

Dazu finden sich in den Levels noch Keybards für versperrte Türen sowie Tarnkappen oder Holo-Doppelgänger - die beiden letztgenannten Extras gibt's allerdings nur in den zehn Duell-Kerkern für zwei menschliche Fleischwölfe. Wer sich solo an diese Schlachtplatte wagt, findet indessen gleich 32 Dungeons vor, die per Paßwort angewählt werden können.

Per joypad kämpft es sich nun instinktiver, weil Drehungen durch die zwei Außen-Knöpfe aktiviert werden, was dem Laufkomfort zugute kommt.

Vom großen ID-Vorbild ist das Gameplay allerdings nach wie vor meilenweit entfernt. Der Mini-waschzettel als Anleitung (genialerweise rotes Papier mit roter Schrift!) wurde beibehalten, wodurch man auch hier wieder erfährt, daß mit der gelben Taste der Karte aktiviert wird - jedoch nicht, daß nur die rote (Schuß-) Taste wieder ins Spiel zurückführt.

Eine weitere Schlamperei ist, daß der Lageplan nach wie vor auch im Solomodus die Grafik überlagert, anstatt das verwaiste zweite Fenster des Splitscreens zu nutzen. Von flüssigem 360-Grad-Scrolling kann auch noch immer nicht die Rede sein, denn wie gehabt wird im Winkel von 90 Grad von Bild zu Bild umgeschaltet. Das geht zwar relativ flott, doch scrollen inzwischen ja bereits einige PD-Dungeons stufenlos.

Was bleibt, ist ein "Beholder" für Schlächter, dessen Splitscreen in diesem Genre selbst am PC Konkurrenzlos ist. Auch der Sound (von Wolfsgeheule bis Techno) ist bis auf die eintönigen Effekte ganz nett, aber als Endsequenz hätten wir doch etwas mehr erwartet als nur ein Grußwort der Programmierer.

Da werden es Alien Breed 3D oder der neu angekündigte "Duum"-Verschnitt ehemaliger Mitglieder von Acid Software mit dem Überbieten nicht allzu schwer haben. (mm)