After what seems like forever, Eidos Interactive's much-vaunted Deathtrap Dungeon has arrived at last Based on the infamous Ian Livingstone Fighting Fantasy book of the same name, it's an action-oriented, platform-puzzlefighting-type thing which looks a heck of a lot like Tomb Raider. In fact, at times it looks so much like Tomb Raider you half expect Eidos to slap an injunction on themselves, claiming breach of copyright.
The similarities are overwhelming: labyrinthine, booby-trap-laden levels, Prince Of Persia-stile puzzles, simple fighting sequences, and a lead character with an enormous bosom. In fact, there's a choice of lead characters - one male, one female - and they've both got huge tits. The bloke - Chaindog, a Conan-a-like barbarian - could easily swap places with Eva Herzigova in one of those pile-up-inducing Wonderbra ads. Hello, boys. Now that would halt the traffic.
There are differences between the two games of course, the most obvious being the use of varied camera angles. Whereas Tomb Raider ferutilised a faintly ominous'stalker' view throughout, DD employs both this and the Resident Evil multiple-view model, although unlike Capcom's horror 'em up, DDIs camera pans and zooms to follow the action. It's a bit like watching the proceedings unfold on CCTV. While this constant switching from one angle to another keeps the game visually exciting and pacey, it's not always easy to tell where your next attacker is coming from. It also makes some of the leaps difficult to judge - which is very frustrating when the life of your character depends on it.
DD has a higher action quotient than you might expect. At times, it's almost like a beat 'em up, with wave upon wave of crazed, slavering creatures hurling themselves at you. This is how Boyzone must feel, although presumably Ronan and company don't fight off thei r fans with war hammers and swords, which is what happens here. There's a worrying trend for in-game dismemberment at the moment (witness Die By The Sword - and this month's Carmageddon II), and Deathtrap Dungeon is the latest culprit to hop on the limb-cleaving bandwagon: arms, legs and heads fly through the air and bounce off the walls, spraying thick globules of blood as they go. In real life ft would be hideous, unbelievable carnage which would haunt you to the grave. Here, it's just funny, although the level where you're encouraged to run around hacking scantily-clad women to pieces in a murderous frenzy until you're standing ankle-deep in gore will do little to persuade the critics that video games are a valid 20th century art form which deserves their support.
To be fair, it's not just women -everything you can think of gets it in the neck at some point. There are 55 types of sword-fodder, from bizarre blue imps to the fearsome centrepiece, Melkor the dragon. In case you were doubting the game's tongue-in-cheek credentials, the appearance of a few bizarre opponents - such as the ones who hop about inside a gigantic shoe - should clear things up fairly pronto. The actual sword-fighting itself is disappointingly basic, with just a handful of different manoeuvres and the all-important blocking stance. The enemies tend to attack from all sides at once, so by the end of each level your back is covered in scars.
And finally, there's the puzzles, which are generally a case of finding a switch, then finding another switch, pulling off a couple of tricky jum ps, then pulling switch number three. And this goes on and on for one level after another.
If you can be bothered to stick with it, it's not actually that bad. In fact, in many ways Deathtrap Dungeon is quite a good game, it's just that it could have been such a lot more - for example, if they'd included more RPG elements. On the plus side, the levels are huge and well designed, and there are loads of different characters. There's always something going on, and It's usually quite entertaining. The graphics aren't bad (assuming you've got a 3D card, that is), the controls are easy to get the hang of, and It'll run acceptably on a relatively low-spec Pentium 133. In fact, its only crime Is that It simply doesn't exeel at any of the things it sets out to do.
Download Deathtrap Dungeon
PC compatible, P-100
Systems: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game features:Single game mode
Deathtrap Dungeon Screenshots and Media
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