Exhumed/Powerslave

I played this one first as a demo called Powerslave and then was surprised to pick it up at a second hand shop as Exhumed and discover it was the same game. A largely unamazing ancient Egypt-themed affair with Anubis-headed guards with extremely camp attack animations, what I remember most was how the game really rubbed it in when you died. Your eye level would sink to the floor, you'd see your arm in front of you quivering in death throes and a pool of blood would swell out from under your mouth. And this was in sprites, remember. They couldn't just arrange the character model like that. Someone actually had to sit down and draw/animate an arm sprite juddering in death throes. Or more likely, photograph one.

Blood

I enjoyed Blood's early-20th-century, hammer-horror vibe, but what I appreciated most was how the main character was transparently completely fucking mad. This was just after Duke Nukem 3D so wisecracking was apparently de rigeur for Build engine games, but where Duke made action-movie one-liners, Caleb screamed with laughter as he gibbed monks and called mime artists "pathetic insects" as he stabbed them with a pitchfork. The game lost steam after the first episode, and the sequel mis-stepped by playing up the comedy and abandoning the unique setting in favor of a future city for some reason, but it put its best foot forward, at least.

You also can't fault the title for elegance. There was another shooter at one point simply called GORE. All we needed was a third game called TITTIES and we could have had marvellous themed LAN parties.

Sin

I liked Sin. Some people didn't, I did. Built off the Quake engine, you played a dreadlocked future cop in a corporate nightmare future, but don't let those eyes glaze over just yet, because the game was also camp as all hell. Your support character and apparently only friend was a squeaky teenage hacker with green hair, and the main antagonist was a female biochemist with jugs like water balloons who swanned about in red vinyl bondage gear. The game and its expansion pack had a commitment to story and personality that was unusual in shooters of the time but was rather tragically overshadowed by the almost simultaneous release of Half-Life, which raised the shooter bar rather devastatingly high.

An attempt was made to revitalise the IP with Sin Episodes, a proposed episodic sequel developed in the Source engine, which rather tellingly ended up trying to be like Half-Life 2 with gratuitous butts, and no second episode was ever released.

Whatever happened to that whole idea of "episodic" gameplay, anyway? Seems like Telltale Games were the only guys that ended up making a big thing of that. I guess after certain parties ended up taking longer to develop episodes than most developers would a full-sized game, everyone kind of lost faith in the idea. Yeah, you know who you are.

Yahtzee is a British-born, currently Australian-based writer and gamer with a sweet hat and a chip on his shoulder. When he isn't talking very fast into a headset mic he also designs freeware adventure games and writes the back page column for PC Gamer, who are too important to mention us. His personal site is www.fullyramblomatic.com.

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