To Start At The Beginning, better fill you in on Bedlam's plot. (Heeelp! - A reader.) It's like the future, right? And there's loads of robots, right? And it's like, er. well... actually how about I save myself some typing time here and ask you to read the opening (and closing) chapter of the novel Bedlam - Robots And Explosions, as written by Joshua QZoop (a not very good sci-fi writer) on the page opposite instead... Finished? Good.
So it's a shoot 'em up - yes?
Sort of. But before continuing, can I just quickly mention that we have here - at PC - the entire works of Joshua QZoop? And that we're willing to literally 'give them away'? It's true. We actually 'don't want them'. Send an sae to the usual Zone address, and mark your envelope "Joshua QZoop is skill". You'll receive his complete works by return of post, and what's more, the first 'entrant' will also receive (free of charge) a charming* carriage clock.
But back to Bedlam. Okay, so it's a sort of shoot 'em up. In fact it is a shoot 'em up.
I know all this, I played the demo...
Aha! I forgot: last month there was a massive playable level of Bedlam on the cover disc, wasn't there? Hmmm. But I'm still not rendered entirely redundant, because (a) you may be an old-fashioned no-hoper without a cd-rom drive, (b) you may only have 4MB of ram, meaning you were equally jiggered, (c) you may be a new reader, or (d) you might have lost your cover disc before experiencing the Bedlam phenomenon.
And even if none of the above do apply, there's still an (e), which goes something like this: you don't know what happened next, seeing as there was just the one level. Ho ho ho! You thought you knew it all, didn't you? (And, er, maybe you do, but read on regardless.)
It looks a bit like Syndicate
Most mags have done the inevitable Syndicate comparison, so let's do a breakdown, bit by bit, comparing the two. (And if you don't know what Syndicate is you'll be buggered for the whole of this section. I can only apologise...)
Syndicate: Plough dosh into various aspects of your operation. Then do loads of other stuff for, erm, an hour. Bedlam: Fill your rat up with weapons. Scores: Syndicate: complicated. Bedlam: piss easy.
Syndicate: Move about slowly, worrying about whether to control your four sprites individually, as teams, or en-masse. Heaps of control icons to toy with. Get lost behind loads of isometrically-viewed structures. Kill things. Search bodies. Cause explosions. Use brain. Check scanner. Bedlam: Slide about at a zillion mph and shoot everything that moves (or doesn't move). If it doesn't explode then it's pick-uppable: cash booster, energy bar refiller, speed-up, ammo replenishment, etcetera. Meanwhile look for switches which open up hitherto unreachable areas of the level. Check scanner. Develop mouse-induced rsi. Scores: Syndicate: Deeply engrossing. Bedlam: Blasterama.
Syndicate: More resource management. Graphs. Aspirins. Graphs. More aspirins. Choose the next mission accordingly. Bedlam: Did you find the 'new weapon' icons? And all the ''cash bonuses? Gung-ho city, then! Arm up your rat(s) and choose the next mission accordingly. Scores: Syndicate: Highly addictive. Bed!am: Highly addictive.
Okay, so it's not Syndicate
Exactly, but it's bloody good nevertheless: never in the field of human conflict has one sprite been attacked by so many others (or something). And the levels are huge... 25 of them, in five different playing zones. If there's a problem with the game - and this is probably a personal thing - it's that your main character 'slides' too much. He's meant to be gliding on air-jets, I know, but I think this is a cop-out on the part of the programmers to save giving and therefore a satisfyingly 'clunky' gait. (Yeah, great theory - Ed.) Another mild whinge is the necessity to find switches, which are bastards to locate at times due to the gigantic-ness of the levels. (And yes, I know switches and stuff bring in a 'maze' element which is satisfying once sussed, but you know what I mean, especially after like half an hour of searching.) Still for sheer non-stop action... tops!
Oh, and just in case you're equipped, I'd better quickly mention the multiplayer capabilities: up to 12 networked people in either co-operative mode (yawn) or deathmatch (hoorah).
Processor: PC compatible, P-100
OS: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game Features:Single game mode