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Review by: Bob Mandel
Published: September 29, 1998
Have you ever noticed how many computer games are dominated by the concept of evil? Let me present a short list of the names of some prominent recent and forthcoming games: Heretic 2, Resident Evil, SiN, Hexen 2, Diablo. It is indeed arguable that game producers believe the presence of dark, satanic imagery in a game title helps to sell games to the isolated, anti-social, rebellious teenage boys whom they always seem to assume is their primary audience. I would not be surprised if a game entitled 666 emerged in the near future. Of course, in some games this demonic face is in the title alone, a kind of subtle “bait-and-switch” operation where buyers get something slightly different from what they think. Sometimes what they get is a big disappointment, other times a pleasant surprise.
Evil Core: The Fallen Cities fits squarely into this second category. It is not full of sinister, devilish overtones as the title implies, although its mood is certainly dark. Instead, it is a refreshingly innovative combination of action, adventure, and strategy in an attractive and absorbing alien environment. Although truly different from any game I have ever seen before, it at times has flashes of similarity to games like the Descent and Wing Commander series and even to the forthcoming Dead Reckoning.
As the first game from the Florida-based ABTS Intelligent Group, Evil Core is amazingly sophisticated and polished. Founded by Aaron Boucher, he spent two and a half years perfecting a 3D engine for use in this game. After he and a friend of his (Tim Stotenbur — you can easily see where “ABTS” came from) successfully developed a test game called Winds of Zolaria that they distributed free on the Internet, they knew they were ready to create a major game to compete with the best that is out there.
The background story in this game is quite complex. In the year 20,000 AD humans have long since moved away from the planet Earth to a mysterious planet called Malia, characterized by gorgeous sky views and secret underground passages. Malia is split into an Old Sector, composed of caves, mines, temples, and ruins known as the Fallen Cities; and a New Sector, with advanced technology including nuclear power, genetic engineering, and space stations. The New Sector is made up of three distinct cultures: the peaceful Bloblics, who have recently had to develop weapons for their own defense; the N’Leth, torn apart by civil war; and the Marcs, the most menacing group, who are using their advanced technology, chemical weaponry, and a genetically enhanced army to try to gain total control of the planet. Upon reading this, I could not help but think of the similarity to the situation in the former Yugoslavia, with the Bloblics somewhat like the Bosnians and the Marcs somewhat like the Serbs.
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