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Thread: Fade To Black (MS-DOS, 1995)

  1. #1
    Level 10,000 achieved
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Finland

    Fade To Black (MS-DOS, 1995)

    The talk about Flashback in the GOG thread got me thinking about it's lesser-known sequel, Fade To Black. It was one of the first 3rd person 3D games I played. Hell, it was one of the first 3rd person 3D games, coming out a year before Tomb Raider popularized the genre. I could never make it very far in the game back then, and I was wondering if I'd fare any better now. So, I dusted off my old CD-ROM, fired up DOSBox and gave it a go.



    Controls
    The controls leave a lot to be desired. Try playing it with a XBox One gamepad and youíll find that thereís no deadzone, meaning your character is always either running, turning, or ducking. You can play with mouse+keyboard, but the insane un-rebindable keyboard layout means that youíd need 3 hands to pull that off, so I ended up playing with just the keyboard, but even thatís unweildy.

    Get a loada this crazy control scheme:
    Arrow keys - run, turn, duck (thereís no backing up)
    Right shift key - modifies arrow keys into walk, strafe, turn 180 degrees
    V - Aim
    B - Fire
    Space - Interact
    Enter - reload
    U - use item
    J - jump

    Graphics
    At the time I thought the 3D kinda looked like shit. The polygons donít quite fit together right, jitter around, and your character has no face. But in retrospect I think this style has held up better than other 3D games of this era that went for a more *realistic* style (Tomb Raider, Resident Evil). The stylized 3D gives it an impressionistic quality, as if the whole thing is an artistís idea of a 3D game, rather than an actual 3D game. Coupled with a generous 640x400 max resolution this is a game that looks quite good in 2018, to a certain set of eyes.

    Gameplay
    Although it looks like an action game, the cumbersome movement and rough difficulty makes it feel more like a survival horror game. There's rudimentary shooting and lots of switch-flipping and key-collecting. The levels are relatively big and the way you'll often unlock new paths back to the healing-station reminds me of Dark Souls. There's some nice setpieces and cinematic moments here and there. And there's also one of the worst escort mission sequences in gaming (15:00 in the vid above).

    Story
    Eh, too soon to say. I thought the guy who voiced John O Connor sounded kinda like Stephen Russell, but turns out his name is Roger Jackson (Ghostface in the Scream movies, Mojo Jojo in Powerpuff Girls + a ton of videogame credits). There's a ton of FMV cinematics in this and while they do have a goofy charm most of them go on for too long.

    I never made it out of the first level back in the day, but now I'm already up to level 3, so I'm gonna keep playing this and see how it unfolds. All told, I'm kinda enjoying it!

  2. #2
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2001
    Location: Somewhere
    I remember this, reading about it in some old game mag. It was touted as revolutionary graphics etc. Actually looks a bit like some retro indie 3d titles that are around now.
    Also escort missions, I dont know how anyone ever thought that was a good idea.

  3. #3
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    I think there have been plenty of good escort missions, over the years. Wings of Liberty has one early on, Invisible Inc basically ends with one. But it can't be denied that a lot of games have messed them up really bad...

  4. #4
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    I played through Fade to Black back when it came out. Finished it even. I found unlocking all the death animation videos to be quite amusing. Is quite a few of them in the game.

    The later puzzles were a real bitch. Had to use a walkthrough.

    Ending is half half.

  5. #5
    Level 10,000 achieved
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Finland
    Yeah I've had to consult a walkthrough a couple times too, tho mostly just for obscure interface stuff that the game doesn't teach you about. I couldn't figure out how to upload the virus at the end of mission 2, turned out you can't just use the terminal like any other, instead you gotta equip the datacube from the inventory and press the use item button, instead of the interact button.

    I've made it to the 5th level now. Level 4 was a alien ship with garrish organic purple decor, I rescured a floating head who told me to get into a small spaceship and I ended up in an ancient Aztec looking place where there are invincible walking stone gollems. Weird shit.

  6. #6
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2003
    Location: flapping in the wind
    I loved this game although I'd completely forgotten it. We went on a school trip to Estonia in junior high and one of the highlights was the Black Hill market where you could buy pirated stuff out in the open. I got Fade to Black, Command & Conquer, some Russian game about pirates and the Mortal Kombat movie on VHS. Pretty solid choices, kid me! Always thought F2B was super-stylish, but I don't think I'd want to deal with the controls now. The movement is really deliberate like in some proto-Souls game, the turning/aiming is awkward, and everything just has too few animation frames, which is a bummer considering how smooth Another World and Flashback were. I do still appreciate the style though.

  7. #7
    Level 10,000 achieved
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Finland
    I've been to that Estonian black market! That's where I first bought Deus Ex! The music files had been ripped out so it'd fit on a CD with 4 other games so I had to soundtrack it with the KoRn and Cypress Hill CDs I also bought there. Ahhh, memories...

  8. #8
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2001
    Location: Somewhere
    Korn? i thought you were cool man

  9. #9
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2003
    Location: flapping in the wind
    Nice! Somehow I could almost see Cypress Hill working with DX. Less of the high-tech and more of the low-life aspect of cyberpunk. No offense to Cypress Hill :\

  10. #10
    Level 10,000 achieved
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Finland
    HEY MAN, I'M COOL! :U

    I've now made it to the Reactor Room, level 11 out of 12. I figured I'd get bored after a few levels, but here we are. I'd say the first 3 levels were the best so far. The middle levels were mostly weird alien structures and a pretty terrible spaceship flying section, but the later levels return to human-built spacebases and the story has kinda picked up again.

  11. #11
    Level 10,000 achieved
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Finland
    What the hell, might as well upload footage of the whole thing.



    Youtube isn't exactly overflowing with F2B footage and there only seems to be complete playthroughs of the PS1 version, not the MS-DOS one. Not that I'd call this a "complete playthrough", heavily edited as it is, but I've managed to capture all the important storybeats.

  12. #12
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2002
    Location: Landahn
    OMG, spoilers.

  13. #13
    Moderator and Priest
    Registered: Mar 2002
    Location: Dinosaur Ladies of the Night
    Quote Originally Posted by PigLick View Post
    Korn? i thought you were cool man
    Hey. Early Korn wasn't half bad. Their 2nd album was probably their peak, though.

  14. #14
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    The silly bit for me is that despite my love of 2D games, I've never played through Flasback but have with the sequel.

    Apparently Flashback's excellent but at the time it just felt like a copy of "Another World".

  15. #15
    Level 10,000 achieved
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Finland
    Finished it.



    I got the bad ending, apparently. You can save Sarah in the last level and avoid having to do the flying level at the end. I tried reloading my save just before the part where you can save her but accidentaly overwrote it instead, because of the confusing save/load system. :|

    Oh well. I liked playing this again.

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