Description of Abuse
The only game Crack dot Com managed to release, Abuse is a fast paced science fiction side scrolling action game with a bunch of weapons to use, excellent low resolution graphics and some challenging gameplay. Though it was never extremely well known, it's definitely worth a play.
You can find a port of AbuseSDL to recent Windows systems on ModDB.
Abuse was fairly unique at the time of its release for combining keyboard based movement with mouse controlled aiming. Anybody who has played a first person shooter with the mouse+keyboard control scheme or similar games such as Soldat will feel right at home here. The DOS version of Abuse runs perfectly under DOSBox.
A SHEEP IN WOLF'S CLOTHING
Abuse has been referred to as 2-D Doom, and with good reason. With it's high powered weapons (including missiles), alien targets, ambient lighting effects, and puzzles limited to switches and teleports, the only real difference between the two is Abuse's lack of the first person perspective.
Of course, as you begin to play the game, you realize just what a huge difference that is. Nevertheless, there's a lot to like about Abuse. It creates an atmosphere like no other platform game available. It takes all the ingredients that makes Jazz Jackrabbit the king of the platform throne (great graphics, speed, and intense action) and throws in better sound effects, light sourcing, intricately designed levels, and more aggressive enemies. Is it a better game than Jazz? Probably. Is it a better platform game? Probably not. Jazz takes the concept of PC platform gaming to a new level, but at least it only strives to be exactly what it is. Abuse, on the other hand, takes a 3D game that already exists, removes the third dimension, and creates what still amounts to be one hell of a game, even though it strives to be something more.
Abuse has 'em. Your character runs, jumps and dies with all the fluidity of a rotoscoped special effect. The aliens are tightly drawn, very clear, and very creepy. They explode into a fray of skin and bones when killed and usually leave ammo behind. Speaking of ammo, smoke pours out of the end of missiles when launched and they erupt into satisfying explosions when striking their target. There is a definite feeling that everything in the game was drawn to look "cool," and the goal is not lost on the screen. Abuse is a very cool looking game.
SPEED & INTENSE ACTION
Great graphics can sometimes sacrifice gameplay, but Abuse is an exception (at least, on a Pentium). Screen scrolling and refreshing are instantaneous and when droves of aliens come bearing down and swirling around, the frame-rate remains constant. And constant speed is a necessity with action like this... where a dank and empty hallway can turn into a hornets nest of missiles and aliens in the blink of an eye.
It's so fast, unfortunately, that many times you're simply left staring at your character's bones on the floor and mulling over the option of starting the level again. One very apparent downside to Abuse is its difficulty factor (four levels are available). Often times, there is no place to hide and no obvious way of avoiding alien projectiles. This makes for some nail-biting game-play, but also for some pound-the- keyboard-in-frustration game-play. Luckily, there is no limit to the amount of "men" you have.
Spread around each level are "milestone" save-game consoles that allow you to save the level in progress. Unfortunately, this sounds a lot better than it is: The five save-game slots each provide a screen shot (a la Rise of the Triad and Alone in the Dark) to show you where you are, BUT you're not allowed to name the slot and, after days away from the game, all the screen shots end up looking the same. What's more, the save-game consoles don't tell you what slot you've saved in! In other words, the save/restore aspect of the game is next to useless and one can only hope Crack Dot Com solves the problem for the final release. Either allow us to name the slots or allow us to tell the console which slot we wish to save in. Depriving us of both options makes us save the game five times at each console so we KNOW where our last save game is. We might as well only have one slot.
In what looks to be a new trend in the action game arena, Abuse contains no background music, relying on it's sound effects to satisfy the aural demands. Fortunately, the large array of explosions, screams, and miscellaneous sounds are very pleasing. As in many aspects of this game, the problem lies in what's NOT present. More ambient sounds would have made the environment that much more involving. For example, many of the levels exhibit structural damage (usually cracked floors, ceilings, and walls that hide secret passages). Hearing these levels crack or groan under the stress of our hero's weight would have been "cool" (and that's what the designers are going for, after all). Also, dripping sounds (even if you can't see what is dripping) would have been appropriate here. Other sound effects come to mind, by why dwell on it? The noises that are done are done very well, but...
One of the best aspects of Abuse is its use of light. Unfortunately (at least in the shareware version), the lighting effects are used so sparingly, it is difficult to perceive how great the effects are. When they happen they are striking. They just don't happen often enough. In fact, not until one looks at the included level-editor (more on that later) does it become clear that Abuse has bonafide light sourcing rather than light shading. The difference should be noticeable, but due to the way light is employed in the levels, the "wow-effect" is dulled. The effects that are done are done very well, but...
Picture the motif of Doom and the design of Lode Runner and you have a good idea of what Abuse is like. Granted, the levels scroll, and granted, you're shooing at aliens rather than demons, but all in all, playing Abuse is like playing a hybrid of two of the most successful games in their respective genres. A large part of the success lies in the levels of play. Games either fly or fail due to their level design, and Doom, Lode Runner, and Abuse are all perfect examples. The only failing in Doom, for example, is in the engine's inability to create levels that occupy the same Z coordinate. On the other hand, the simplistic nature of a Lode Runner level is exactly what makes it so appealing, particularly for home-made levels via the level-editor.
Abuse levels share the complexity of Doom levels with the simplicity of Lode Runner levels. Sound contradictory? It is. The gameplay is always played from the same third person, platform perspective, but within that framework, it seems the level designs are limited only by the designers imagination. Teleports transport you to different areas of any given level (or even to completely different levels); elevators take you to varying heights; switches activate doors, platforms, traps, etc.; floors, walls, and ceilings can contain cracks behind which hide secret passages to ammo, health, or teleports, etc. Claustrophobic, dark passageways give way to expansive, bright rooms where one pursuing alien can turn into a free-for-all of alien carnage.
It shouldn't be too surprising, therefore, to hear that the included level- editor that comes with Abuse is like a hybrid between the Lode Runner level-editor and the editors available for Doom. But rather than only being twice as difficult as the first or half as difficult as the second, Abuse's level editor is the hardest of the three. There's no reason it should be, but it is.
Platform and "object based" like Lode Runner, but relying heavily on "association" segments (much like Doom editors' "line segments"), the Abuse editor takes what should be a simple matter and makes it difficult. Perhaps a main reason it is more difficult than Lode Runner is because, unlike the game from Sierra, Abuse allows you to "paint" both the background and foreground. Also, unlike Doom, enemies are on-screen in more than one form: the dormant (cocoon-like state), and the attacking state.
What does this mean to level designers? Not only do you have to specify between background and foreground, you have to keep them apart during the course of level-creation (no easy task at the beginning of a design). Also, rather than simply choosing an alien "object" from a menu and placing it in the level, you have to choose from dormant or attacking and then specify how, when, and why it changes from one state to the other. Huh? You want me to run through that again? I can't. That's the problem. Fortunately, there's a rather lengthy instruction manual explaining all the "ins" and "outs" of level creation. Unfortunately, the developers didn't realize that a "lengthy instruction manual" probably indicates an unsuccessful level editor. Maybe some hackers out there will design a better one. After all, if a user-friendly editor can be made for Doom, making one for Abuse should be a walk in the park.
And while we're talking about additions, hopefully Crack Dot Com will consider the possibility of adding mulitplayer support to Abuse. With all the similarities Abuse shares with Doom, it might as well share the one single aspect that makes Doom what it is. Who's to say platform games can't have 1-4 people running through it, deathmatching each other?
JUST THE FACTS, MAN
Given the fact that Abuse is a platform game, it is an incredible one. Not because it's good at what it does, but simply because it's good. But it could have been so much better. If a better level editor existed; if better use of lighting was used; if multiplayer action was if it drew you in and never let you go; if you shot demons instead of aliens; if it was first person 3D. Oh, wait. That game already exists. Nevermind.
Review By GamesDomain
Comments and reviews
MarkTheMorose 2019-10-27 1 point
There are Linux i386 and 64 versions on moddb, alongside the Windows SDL version. I'm fine with playing it through DOSbox, but it's nice that Linux gamers are getting some love.
AssKicker47 2019-08-13 1 point Windows version
This game is such a hidden gem. I remember playing it around the year 2000, reaching level 14 and never managing to beat it. Think I'm going to give it another go (;
There's a version on ModDB that works like a charm. Played a few levels, it's like a nostalgia overload.
LRGPNS 2019-01-11 2 points
Are there still any living sites that have user addon levels to download (aside from the Frabs thing)? The title makes it kind of a pain in the ass to try to find relevant stuff on search engines.
Awesome game though.
DaveMartinezMX 2019-01-05 1 point Mac version
I see the windows version of this game has back ground music. Does anyone knows if the Mac version have back ground music too?
Space Man 100789 2018-01-04 3 points
This Game is awesome! One of the best run and gun games I have EVER SEEN!
WallyDog2149 2017-06-27 2 points
Abuse is a challenging..and fun... platformer. Hard to get it going on DOSBox and the Mac version requires either original hardware or Macintosh emulation....Someone ported it natively to Windows and it is available here:
josh j 2017-04-14 0 point
by far one of the best pc platformers actually of any.
such a cool system great level design its like metroid was when it came out!
wait where is the win32 version thats how i played it back in the day?
that sucks ill have to install on my old laptop still dos version is cool just pre genesis graphics
Galvanized Dreamer 2016-10-15 0 point DOS version
"Unable to open cache file for compiled code"
Anyone else getting this issue, or know of a way to fix it? I'm using DOSBOX 0.74 on Windows 10.
bholenath 2016-07-04 -1 point Mac version
The Mac version has a virus, it totally aberrated my mac system on basiliskII... thanks god I had cloned my disks hours before
Thomas B 2016-06-22 2 points DOS version
I had Abuse for my Mac back in the mid 90s and loved it! The PC version runs exactly as the Mac version did. Amazing!
Such a simple concept for a side-scrolling platform.
fdisk 2015-08-30 2 points DOS version
indstr 2014-02-12 0 point DOS version
Definitely an underrated classic... Good and unique control scheme at the time which I could never really get used to. But I still want to give it another go at some point
Abuse 2011-06-04 2 points DOS version
I remember this game, glad i found it again, i will play and finish it...I was pretty scared when i was young to play this.
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