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"You are Nick Vrenna. It is the year 2009. You have been falsely incarcerated inside a high security underground prison where illegal genetic experiments are taking place. Alan Blake, the head research scientist, has isolated the specific gene which causes violence and aggression in humans. This genetic sequence, called 'Abuse', is highly infectious, causing horrific transformations and grotesque side-effects. You are the only person to show immunity to it."
This is the premise of Abuse. With that in mind, you, dressed in battle armor that you just happen to have found, are off to save humanity from infection by Abuse. Your mission is to get to the Control Room at the center of the prison complex and make sure that the prison's infected water supply doesn't leak out into the outside world.
You have four levels of play to choose from; Wimp, Easy, Normal and Extreme. On Wimp you can go a long, long way, but even this level can offer a challenge for the beginner. Just for fun, you might want to go back and re-play the game at a higher setting, just to see how hard it can be. Extreme is exactly that. Good luck.
The first level is something of a tutorial to let you know what you've gotten yourself into. It pauses the game just long enough to inform you of a feature of which you should be aware. You learn the game as you play and are hooked before you know it. Then there's always the F1 key to let you know what movements and keys you can use to get around.
You begin armed with a laser which you use to blast your way deeper and deeper into the complex, accumulating armaments and stocking ammunition as you go. You'll eventually pick up an Incendiary Grenade Launcher, A Heat Seeking Rocket Launcher, a Napalm launcher, an Energy Rifle, a Death Saber and a Nova Spheres launcher. The most effective and rare is the Napalm. Quite devastating and final. You'll also encounter many of the prison's former inmates and prison guards who will be clawing, biting and shooting at you. Just make sure you get them before they get you. As you get hit, your heart begins to beat faster and you get weaker and weaker. Look for hearts to bring your health back up from the brink. After a while, you'll get the feel of which weapon is best in each situation. Just be aware that there are areas where you stand to get swamped by bad guys and the only thing between you and total destruction is having the right weapon at the ready. Be aware that the most obvious approach to some of the screens is not always the wisest. Balance weapon use against the total outcome and you're sure to find a better way. Just remember to save, save, save. You'll never regret saving too much. In fact, if you can save in the middle of a screen just before you're about to die, you can re-load that position with a clean bill of health. Comes in handy for those tougher screens.
The graphics are dark and gloomy, much like a horror movie would be to conceal what's coming next. This combined with a constant background of machine noises and inhuman screeches definitely keeps you on the edge of your seat. The makers of Abuse have done an excellent job of creating an atmosphere that will keep you riveted to your computer level after level. At times you'll hear nothing and think that you should be hearing something, expecting the worse as you move into a new tunnel or room. You're playing a 2D game that has the feel of 3D. Most impressive are those screens where you're passing in front of enormous windows that look out onto the city outside the prison. As you move back and forth, the city scene displayed by the window also changes for an impressive visual display.
Movement is with the cursor keys, aiming and firing the various weapons is done with the mouse. A mouse controlled cross-hair shows where you'll shoot next. Character movement is fluid and consistent with all the moves needed for shooting in all directions. The only rough spot, at least for myself, was coordinating jumping up and left or up and right at the same time. Press down to activate the various switches, doors and elevators that you'll encounter. Occasionally, you'll find a microchip that will give you enhanced abilities such as extra speed or jet boots. The boots are a great deal of fun. Use the right mouse button to activate these last two.
After the initial installation and setup, you can use the Gamma Correction feature to adjust the darkness of the screen by selecting the darkest gray you can see. "Abuse is meant to be a dark game." It really is worth taking the time to do this step. The game is also available to play over an IPX compliant network, and includes a level editor.
Written by Glenn Soucy
General Midi or 100% compatible sound card; Sound Blaster/SB Pro/SB ASP/ SB 16/SB AWE-32, Ensoniq Soundscape or 100% compatible soun card.
Network play: 486/66 Mhz processor recommended plus IPX compliant network.
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