|Abuse is an
excellent heart-trashing "total kickbutt" type game featuring amazingly detailed
two-dimensional graphics, a multi-capability level editor, network options, and an
environment with 14 function-carrying objects, 17 enemies and obstacles of various kinds,
plus a selection of futuristic weapons that the main character Nick can use. . .or should
I say. . .Abuse with?
The action in Abuse takes place in the future, when the main character named Nick finds himself in a maximum-security prison (oh-oh, bad boy!). By a terrible coincidence, some devilish chemical experiments were going on in that institution. . . And guess what happened?! Surprise-surprise: the chemical went out of control and spread all over the jail, turning harmless criminals into alien-looking mutants (Hollywood's Aliens type). Guess what else happened? Probably due to severe contamination (yeah that's it!), all mutants got laser/missile-shooting bazooka things on their backs and are out to get Nick! That's along with squads of Fliers, Juggers, Drillbots and Boulders, explosive turrets, ponds of lava and mine fields that you have to escape or destroy. Or else you'll be. . ."Abused".
Corresponding to the game, the graphics are just as heart-pounding as the non-stop action. According to the makers, it's supposed to be a dark game, and it sure looks like one. When you start the level, you are immersed in a dark, underground world, where some of the few sources of light are the sparks of laser blasts and the flames from the grenade explosions. So detailed are the characters and the settings that the 2-D game environment, which offers a cut-section of a part of the maze, actually seems to contribute to the visual effect of those dark, hellish tunnels that Nick has to fight his way through. Still, there is a Gamma Correction option in the game menu, so that players can choose an exact brightness for their preferred game appearance. The echoing sound (sound effects and music volume are separately adjustable) assist with the dark look of Abuse. A missile is launched in Nick's direction, but a microsecond before you see a flash, a heart-stopping alien scream scratches your eardrums, making your target jerk on the screen. Altogether the music and tons of sound effects in Abuse, combined with often bizarre graphical scenes, add a lot of fun to the gaming experience. The user interface in Abuse can be divided into two parts: the game itself, and the level editor. The game interface is plain and simple, as in other games of the 2-D, level-by-level type, where all you need to do is control the inch-tall character with four arrow buttons and a mouse click. The "escape" button will help you escape your constant "abuse" on a level and bring up the game menu, with never before seen difficulty/ gamma/ volume/ network/ load/ new game options. Oh well, changing the difficulty to suicidal "Extreme" and pumping up the volume in the middle of the level is all you need, right? Oh yeah, you need to save the game too, so 5 savegame slots with screen shots of your locations are there for you to fill up. That's it.
Another feature is the level editor. The settings for editing/creating your levels are just like in the game, so that you have the map of a game level (just like while playing), or some free space to fill up with all-new links and tiles. The bottom of the screen contains a command line with File, Edit, Window menus, etc., each housing about a dozen options. That's why there's a 38-page Level Editor Manual with terms like Ambient Sound, Plasma_Icon 50, or Dfris_icon 10 to play with. Oh man, there are about 10 types of just wall tiles there! Go figure. . . As they say, there are players who buy a game to win a bloody war and there are those who like to dig inside a little brochure, make a butt-kicking level and win a $1000 prize from Crack Dot Com!
My twisted, disoriented, and damaged player's impression is that the game actually abuses whoever dares to go for it (just try the "Extreme" option). There can be many games with great interactive-movie sequences or whatever, but in Abuse, the action and the feeling of it really maximizes one part of a gaming experience: the adrenaline! That's the juice of Abuse. The recipe is: wait until night falls, turn off the lights, put the volume on max., and start the Abuse. In each level try to keep Nick (you) alive in a mess of crossover laser fire, missiles, grenade explosions, and a ton of alien body pieces spreading and twisting around you. The harder the difficulty level, the longer it takes for Nick to shred his enemies, and the less time it takes them to finish him off. To complete each level, you pretty much need to kill everything moving on it, and solve a system of door switches and teleport links. The controls were a nice change. You moved Nick with the standard arrow keys, but controlled his fire with your mouse. This allowed you to run forward and fire at all the aliens chasing you. To fire a weapon all the player needs to do is "point-and-click" the mouse-controlled cross-hairs on the enemy. It takes a lot of fast reaction to accurately and quickly take out a bunch of squirming creatures. All teleportation pads and switch activators are done with the "down" arrow key, while other arrow keys are responsible for motion. Now you know everything you need to Abuse. Pros: Decent sound effects, neat environment and character graphics, well-balanced levels that get you thinking while the enemy body count increases. Cons: The action may seem too repetitive to some players. Well, depends what you are looking for! Also, 2-D is kinda... already done. Maybe the age of those things has passed? Well, not for everyone!