With the resurgence of interest with retro gaming in recent years, more and more old titles are getting the HD facelift treatment, including favorites like DuckTales and so on. It’s kinda nice to see a classic game like The Chaos Engine get the same thing and be introduced to a new generation of gamers.
The Chaos Engine (or Soldiers of Fortune in US versions) was a steampunk vertical shooter originally made for the Amiga, SNES, Sega Genesis, and many other systems, and it has a good cult following that must have resulted in this remastered version.
It’s a two-player game that you can play with either a friend with another controller or with a CPU companion. With this new version, you also get to play with someone over Steam, which is a great addition. Like before, you have six characters to choose from — Brigand, Mercenary, Gentleman, Navvie, Thug, and Preacher (or Scientist). Each have their own stats, weapons, and special abilities, as well as intelligence when selected as an AI partner. You then blast through enemies while activating nodes in each level via vertical scrolling shooter action.
When you get to compare this game with the original Amiga or Genesis versions, you’ll notice that aside from shifting the in-game interface from the top to the bottom with some graphical additions, there isn’t anything else added to it. There’s visual enhancement, along with an anti-aliasing feature that you can turn on or off. You may want to disable it as it does make the visuals look weird and smudgy. Aside from that and the graphics looking slightly brighter and sharper, it’s like they didn’t really touch it for 20 years. Perhaps it’s to stay faithful to the original, but maybe a couple of additions like extra levels could have done some good.
At least you get a save feature in this game, which is great. In the original versions, whenever you die, you have to either replay from the first level all over again or enter a password to continue from where you left off. This time though, you get to jump back in again if you die and work your way through the gameplay, which seems to have retained its difficulty level. This game is best played with a pad controller, which the game lets you do easily through its option menus.
It’s a good thing that the controls are still as sharp as ever in this remastered version. Vertical shooters are entirely dependent on the responsiveness of the controls as even a split second delay can cost the game. With the amount of enemies shooting at you here, it’s crucial that you can move and shoot quickly, and this game does that quite well. Perhaps it was a case of “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” as it controls virtually the same way that the original did.
For some, this may not have been the first time that this game was played through a modern system, aside from emulators. It has been ported in mobile platforms, so this remastered version is definitely not the first attempt at revamping this game for newer players. In any case though, there’s a certain something in the way it looks that makes this game appealing, especially for those who are into retro games.
There were only a handful of games with a steampunk theme during the 90′s, and this was certainly one of them. Getting to play it again these days goes beyond simple nostalgia due to its quality gameplay. If you’re into vertical shooters like Ikari Warriors, then this game should be quite entertaining for you. It’s now available on Steam for about $10.
Tested in PC. Final Score: 8/10