Name: Abuse
Genre: Action
Designer: Jonathan Clark
Developer: Crack Dot Com
Publisher: Crack Dot Com
Copyright: Crack Dot Com
Year: 1995

Rating: 20.0

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Review - Wikipedia

Abuse is a computer game developed by Crack dot Com, and published by Origin Systems/Electronic Arts. It was released in 1996, and runs on DOS and Linux operating systems. An improved port of the game was released for Mac OS by Bungie Studios.

The protagonist of the game, Nick Vrenna, has been falsely incarcerated in a prison where illegal experiments are taking place. A prison riot occurs and the experiment goes horribly wrong. The people inside the prison - excluding Nick, who seems to be immune - get infected with substance that transforms them into monsters. Nick then finds it prudent to stop the further spreading of this substance.

The basic premise of the game, as well as the general look of the character, enemies, locations and some weapons, is a rather thinly-veiled homage to Predator and Alien series of movies. (see Alien vs. Predator)

Abuse resembles a side-scrolling platform game. The game is marked with its unusual control scheme: The keyboard is used to move Nick, while the mouse is used for aiming the weapons. The basic gameplay consists of fighting various enemies (mostly the various forms of mutants, who prefer to attack in huge swarms) and solving some simple puzzles, most involving switches.

Networked play, through IPX/SPX, is also supported.

Abuse was quite well received by the game press, who hailed the game as "the Doom of platform games".

The game was not particularly popular in the world-wide market, but nevertheless, it remains a little bit of a cult classic.

Abuse took an unusual (at the time) approach to making modifications ("mods"). The game includes a rather polished level editor, which is fully usable from the game itself. The editor, once enabled with command-line parameter, can be toggled with Tab key, and the game can be fully edited while testing the level - for example, the states of various triggers can be surveyed in real-time.

The more advanced editing is also possible. Using a separate program called Satan Paint, new graphics can be created and added to the game. (Satan Paint is not very well supported at the time. Separate conversion to the *.spe format may be required.)

Probably the most unique thing under the hood of the game, however, was that the game logic was programmed in a variant of Lisp. This allows for incredibly complex modifications - one of the relatively simple examples was a Breakout clone, which no longer functions on the retail version, though. Sadly, the Lisp interface was relatively badly documented, so there were never too many modifications that used Lisp code.

The game was originally released as "shareware", though in modern terms, a "beta-version demo" would be a more appropriate description, since the free release was done based on incomplete game and final version was published through major software publishing house and distributed through ordinary retail channels.

The shareware versions were released for MS-DOS and Linux. Abuse was distributed with many GNU/Linux distributions at the time. Regrettably, the Lisp API in shareware releases (1.x) was not compatible with the final retail version (2.0), making modifications not work. Also, the retail version was only available for MS-DOS (thought the source code for 2.0 can be built to produce a Linux binary).

Abuse was also ported to Mac OS by Bungie Studios. This port was an unusual port in that it was largely reworked for Mac. Graphics were largely redone to work better in the 640x480 resolution. (The PC version runs in 320x200 VGA resolution, and can be made to run in higher resolutions, but the graphics will not be scaled.)

Approximately two years after the release of the game, Crack dot Com decided to release the game source code, as well as the shareware release game data (excluding the sound effects), to public domain. There has been little development based on this source release, though it did allow up-to-date GNU/Linux builds and making the game work over TCP/IP. A SDL port of the game is now available, allowing the game to run in Microsoft Windows and also in X11 systems in displays with more than 256 colors. The Mac version has been updated to run on OS X.

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