Threat

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Threat is top-down shoot ‘em up for the PC, released in 1995 by Fragment software. It was, as was standard practice at the time, released as shareware with paid registration required to unlock two of the three episodes. As Fragment Software’s website is no longer up and running, it is no longer possible to register the game. However the shareware version can easily be found after a little internet-fu on your favorite search engine. I did have the full version of this game, but the files are long gone.

Each level is comprised of a single screen. The player navigates through the often maze-like layout killing anything and everything he sees while also performing any additional mission-based objectives. While the player is able to see the entire level layout, enemies only appear on screen if they are within the in-game characters line of sight, which is actually pretty logical when you think about it. This makes the game exciting as although it has a top-down perspective, you never know what may be hiding around behind the corner.

The enemies found within the levels are well balanced and well placed. Early on in the game you will find a lot of stock standard bug-like creatures which move around with surprising speed but can only inflict damage on contact. Once mercilessly slaughtered, these alien creatures often leave behind power-ups. More often than not it’s a self detonating grenade which hurts like hell but has a limited blast range. As the player progresses through levels some new enemies make an entrance, most with some sort of projectile attack. Although few and far between, there are also gun turrets that pack a serious punch but are also quite easy to avoid.

You collect credits primarily by completing the levels themselves, however some enemies also drop small threat3amounts of credits when killed. The credits can be used at the shop which is accessible between each level. Patronizing the store is crucial as ammunition in the game is limited. You start the game with a tri-gun; a machine gun that has a kind of “spray” effect with three main lines of fire. There are a number of other weapons available for purchase, including grenades (which can be thrown over walls within the levels), land mines and health packs. Some enemies drop generic ammunition packs (which reload whatever you have readied) which can keep you going during some of the more difficult missions. One thing that will surely save your bacon is that the generic ammunition packs can also recharge your health packs in the same way they would a weapon. Though do note that the health pack can only be used three times and the ammunition pack only replenishes one of those

threat1The gameplay itself is pretty solid. Blasting away swarms of alien nasties into pools of blood is strangely satisfying as is trying out new and expensive weapons. Because ammunition is limited (in the sense that it isn’t unlimited), there is a constant need to conserve resources. Just staying alive is big part of the game. You can’t simply charge through the levels holding down the fire button and maiming everything in sight, if you did you would find soon yourself out of bullets and out of luck. Having said that, if you happen to die then you are immediately taken back to the pre-level screen. There are no “lives” as such, but restarting levels too many times means you will be spending more and more money to re-load, and if you go broke the game is essentially over.

Threat is best played with a game pad, although I sometimes have difficulty getting it to work. The keyboard works just fine, although the game does demand some quick and precise movements at times and if you, like me, have big sausage-fingers then you might find some sections of the game a bit of a struggle. The controls are at least smooth and responsive.

It’s quite a shame that the full version of this game is no longer available, if anyone manages to find a way to register the full version, let us know.

 

 

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