"'At least they're low security inmates on this floor' he thought. He started to inhale deeply and then in short pants, psyching himself up..." In 'short pants'? Regular readers will understand my joy in reading a sentence like that in a game manual. It was almost certainly written by a Pole, and I am reading a first draft copy, but even so, such gems cannot go unreported. Also see: "It was here that most of Europe's rouge machinery was kept under lock and key," and "The ledge was barley big enough to stand on."
The point of such translatorial jiggery-pokery is to describe the plot, and discarding all the rubbish about prisons, and robot inmates going awry, it can best be condensed as 'this is a Doom clone'. Actually, even that is inaccurate: this is in fact more Wolfenstein 3D (the PC game which predated Doom). The 'prison' is eerily accurate, but only to the point that most prisons you see have uniformly dull decor and very little going on in them. There are barred doors, and switches to open them; there's discarded weaponry lying in dimly-lit corners, and, more awkwardly plot-wise, loaves of bread, hard-boiled eggs and cans of cola. Presumably the riot happened at breakfast time, or something. (Coke at breakfast? Andy, you are a barbarian! - Haz.).
The awry-gone droids, intelligent enough to kill their captors, are apparently too dense to have realised that once their keepers are gone, they're still shut inside the prison. Quite what sort of danger they represent to society while locked away remains a tortuous plot link, but the fact is you've got to free them, by opening all the doors, and then blow them away.
The arsenal of hardware at your disposal would make Rambo feel a bit girly: such delights as Kalashnikovs, miniguns, laser rifles and cannons, hand rockets and plasma-powered Stun Bolters can be picked up, along with their various ammos. I must also mention the shop which, despite a big holocaust on the scale of the LA riots, still manages to keep trading. Wait a minute... a shop, inside a prison, selling very high-grade weaponry? Er, hang on...
It's easy to become biased when you're faced with a game like Behind the Iron Gate. Look at you: I bet you've already scanned this paged and laughed heartily at the screenshots, especially if you've got an A1200. But let's remember that this thing will run on any Amiga, and allow me to tell you that it'll be difficult to get closer to Doom on an A500 or 600. We're already aware of the possible travesties awaiting us: Death Mask set the precedent for all others to better, which, to be fair, all others have. But while games like Fears, Gloom and Switchworld are plundering the power and glory of the A1200, along comes little BTIG, with its... well, minimalist graphics, and springs a decent game on us. The first attention-to-detail piece (from, and I can't stress this enough, a company which has never produced a game before) is a choice of four different control methods. The sound is as sparse as the colour, but the unusual throbbing sound which permeates the corridors of the prison, coupled with the odd spot-FX, creates a simple but effective setting. There's no save game facility, but there's a password system -the next best thing. Above all, there's some effective firepower, and as the majority of Doom players will tell you that's probably the most important factor. BTIG will never match Doom, so don't expect it to - and if you've got an AGA machine, look elsewhere for your thrills. But if you fancy a nice bowl of atmospherics, with a spoonful of weapons and trinkets sprinkled on top then Iron Gate should keep you going.
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