A couple of weeks ago I talked about what I believe to be the finest of the early first-person shooters. Then Klingon Honour Guard was mentioned, inspiring me to jot down another article dedicated to some of the lesser known titles from those days. I’ve loosened the criteria slightly, to anything released before 2000. Some of these of them I’ve not actually played, so feel free to add your thoughts in the comments.

Exhumed, aka Powerslave

An evil mummy guards some floaty lifeblood things.

When the life-giver dies, all around is laid waste!

Some unknown force has summoned legions of undead and supernatural creatures from ancient Egyptian tombs, and you’re the solider sent in to defeat them. It’s a sound enough idea for a shooter, giving you the chance to machinegun shuffling mummies and jackal-headed warriors. The game didn’t have much of an impact though. After a few levels it quickly feels a bit samey, and lacks any real standout features like Quake’s fancy 3D engine or Duke’s humour. Also despite the name (in America) there is absolutely no Iron Maiden on the soundtrack.


Star Trek: The Next Generation: Klingon Honour Guard

pic taken from mobygames.

pic taken from Mobygames.

Most star trek games give you control of starfleet officers, be they characters from the show or ones newly invented. That’s logical; various starfleet ship crews have been the protagonists of every incarnation of Trek. This one however focused on one of Trek’s most well known alien races, while Starfleet are barely even present. I wonder if that was an unwise choice, too far removed from the key elements of the Trek setting. Honour Guard didn’t seem to make a big impression on gamers (despite, as Rik points out, our favourite Mag PC Zone loving it), and was quickly forgotten. Still, one day we should play it and assess it for ourselves. I do notice that Half Life came out very soon after, which can’t have helped.


Star Trek Generations

Image taken from mobygames.

Mobygames again

More Trek. If you lost track of the movies, Generations was the one with Kirk, Picard and Malcom Mcdowell, and a message about coming to terms with the passing of time. Also Data pushes Doctor Crusher off a boat, because he’s trying to understand lolz. This game is very obscure and I know little about it. The level geometry looks a bit basic for 1997, and I’m not keen on how the interface takes up half the screen. Interestingly though, it has some space-combat sections too, where you control the Enterprise. I wonder if it’s kind of like Final Unity (also from Microprose) with FPS segments instead of point and click adventuring.



Mobygames again.

Mobygames again!

I dimly recall reading about this in PC Zone. I’d dismissed it as very generic-looking scifi and one of the less interesting Doom clones of the mid 90s. However, I’ve only just realised that it was developed by Raven, who went on to be one of the big names in First Person shooters. These are the guys who gave us Hexen, Jedi Knight 2 and the 2009 Wolfenstein. So I’m kind of interested to try this early effort. In later years they tended to use iD engines, indeed they already had at this point for Shadowcaster, but apparently they created their own tech for this game.


Wheel of Time

Trollocs are basically Wot's version of orcs.

I took this one myself, honest.

Robert Jordan’ series of fantasy novels is never going to see a TV adaptation on HBO. It’s too huge, sprawling across 13 books. It doesn’t have the sort of gritty drama that can appeal to audiences outside of loyal geeks, and also there’s no nudity.

What it did inspire however was this Unreal-powered shooter, which had me very excited at first but sadly turned out a little disappointing. For one thing, while it uses the setting of the books there’s no mention of the events or characters, and it doesn’t really do much to develop its own story. Also the wide array of spells (attack, defense and utility) is novel but ultimately a bit clunky and confusing to use, more suited to an RPG than the frantic pace of a shooter.