Abomination: The Nemesis Project
Abomination: The Nemesis Project should really have been called Abomination: The X-COM Tribute, such is the resemblance to the MicroProse classic. But there's nothing wrong with taking a good idea and presenting it differently, which is why Abomination: The Nemesis Project is such a tempting prospect for budding armchair strategists. On the face of it, the similarities to X-COM are many and varied - the isometric 3D view, the point-and-click interface, ground roots, street-to-street combat. Beneath this familiar exterior, though, are two fundamental differences that separate Abomination from X-COM. real-time combat and randomly generated missions.
Your aim, whether you play a campaign or a one-off encounter (including over the Internet or by email), is to kill off a sinister cult which has risen from the spread of a worldwide plague. From a satellite map of the battle zone (in this case, present-day America) you command The Nemesis Project, a group of enhanced super-soldiers trying to restore order to a chaotic world, while surveying for activity and sending in the boys whenever anything kicks off.
Pause For A Breath
Abomination's designers' main aim was to make their game real-time, and the result is a particularly fraught style of gameplay. Luckily for us (and them), they've included a very handy 'Pause' function, which allows you to freeze the action but still move around and issue orders while time stands still. Abomination is so hard, and the enemy so ruthless, that the game would almost certainly have failed without it.
At first the weapons are fairly conventional, but taking time to search the battlefield reaps rewards. In campaign mode you need to upgrade your weapons and keep an eye on your ammo to progress, so searching every hidden object is a must In addition to this, you have the small matter of primary and secondary objectives to address, ranging from enemy clear-outs and demolition missions to defending a sudden ambush.
As we mentioned earlier, Abomination features randomly generated missions. There are 40 different terrain types, each with between 15 and 35 templates, 60 primary objectives and a dozen secondary ones, not to mention shedloads of other minor variations. No two missions are ever the same, which in some ways is a good thing because it gives you an almost infinite variety of missions but, in reality, it depersonalises the game with the result that the story becomes less important.
Despite this, Abomination is a fairly gripping game. It's nowhere near as disgusting and scary as the designers claim, but it does have some good music and eerie sound effects to set the scene, and pulling off a particularly difficult mission is very satisfying.
Unfortunately, though, there are a number of niggly problems that hold Abomination back from being a Classic. Firstly, the pathfinding Al is dodgy - on more than one occasion we found stray troops taking 'the long way round', which jeopardises all the hard work you've done at the planning stage. Thankfully, your soldiers' autonomy can be turned down, and use of the Pause mode eliminates the need to rely on Al during combat.
The second niggle - the fact that your field of view is restricted to a small percentage of the overall playing area, depending on which soldier is selected - is more of a problem. Why the designers chose to do this is a mystery, especially when you consider that you are prevented from 'spying' on the entire battlefield by the fact that enemy soldiers only become visible when they're nearby. It only serves to accentuate the level of difficulty, not to mention the initial frustration.
Abomination: The Nemesis Project doesn't have the depth or the captive audience of the Gollop brothers' classics, but it is more than capable of fulfilling the fantasies of almost every hardened digital warlord out there - at least until X-COM Genesis arrives late next year.
Download Abomination: The Nemesis Project
Systems: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game features: Single game mode