Something about Abomination feels as if the game was built in a lab. It is serviceable but unremarkable in every way, with nice, crisp graphics, solid audio and mildly engaging gameplay. On the other hand, it is a visual masterpiece, the sound could have been more inspired and the gameplay is not what most folks would call addictive. It is sort of like a manufactured Hollywood summer blockbuster (ala Armageddon or Men in Black): it is enjoyable in a pop-corny sort of way but not the least bit memorable.
Abomination borrows heavily from the popular X-COM games. In fact, it seems to be modeled step by step after the Microprose series since elements of X-COM appear in the premise, the overall strategic struggle, and the tactical combat that lies at the heart of the game.
At the start of the game, the United States has been devastated by a mysterious plague. Few survivors roam the land, most of whom are shocked and frightened, but some have banded together to form a bizarre cult known as the Faithful. Strong, united and slightly insane, the Faithful worship an alien force known as the BROOD, and will kill anyone who does not join them.
You take the helm of a top-secret squad of elite soldiers called Project Nemesis and it is your job to retake your city from the Faithful, find out exactly what the BROOD is and generally dig some sort of order out of the rubble of chaos.
The strategic element serves as the basic infrastructure of the title, connecting the tactical engagements and providing a sort of backbone for the game. A map of the city dominates the interface and, at the start, the entire area is shaded red indicating that it is under Faithful control. You can see bases, laboratories, and enemy strongholds after you have discovered them. Hotspots show incidents that call for your team's intervention.
You can equip your soldiers from a well-stocked armory at the start. Several real-world weapons are available including M16s, M4s, AK-47s, various grenades, side arms and other gear. This is a near-future setting, so some sci-fi stuff is also at your disposal. The most notable device in the beginning of the game is a handheld motion detector right out of Aliens.
The real game is when you are in the thick of a mission. Goals are standard issue, from recovering objects (plans, weapons, gadgets, or whatever) or people (dignitaries, scientists, etc.), to killing every enemy creature in the vicinity.
You control your team of up to four operatives from a top-down isometric viewpoint. The soldiers and human enemies are well animated but their models are a bit awkward; too lanky to be believable. The backgrounds, however, are crisp, convincing, and full of interactive details. Demolish cars, signs and other objects. Use mailboxes, walls and various structures as cover, and so on.
The height of the artwork is the aliens. Though slightly cartoon-like, they have a slimy, organic look that often sends chills up the spine. The very nature of the creatures is interesting, too. Without revealing too much, they tend to be passive in the beginning of the game, their tendrils growing up from beneath the streets like fleshy vines, often shown enveloping cars, parts of buildings, and even people. You can tell which ones are alive by the way they pulsate! Shoot them in this passive state and they die in a gooey burst of slime.
The gameplay itself is serviceable but unremarkable. The action takes place in real-time, but you can hit the space bar at any time to pause the game and issue orders. The mouse-based combat interface is intuitive, allowing you to change weapons, target enemies, lob grenades and perform other tasks with a minimal learning curve.
While everything about Abomination is satisfactory, it is also flat. There is no real thrill. I was never startled in combat or shocked by a narrative twist, but neither was I bored. If asked to sum up my opinion of the game in a word, I would say it is "Okay."
Graphics: The combat areas are well drawn and aliens have a satisfyingly wiggly look, but characters look awkward.
Sound: The adequate, but convincing sound effects lack punch, while the music is standard fare.
Enjoyment: It is impossible to be passionate about this title, either for or against it. It is a pleasant diversion, but hardly ground breaking.
Replay Value: Generated, rather than scripted, missions are unique, but still eerily similar.
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