If only it was released a couple of years ago...
Chasm: the Rift incorporates innovative enemies, cool visual ideas and some neato effects; unfortunately, its simple game play and basic 3D engine leaves it left in the dust behind all the other big-named action games out there, namelyJedi Knight, Quake I & II, andHexen II.
Like most 3D shooters, Chasmincorporates only a vaguely thought-out story. There are different "rifts" in time, and aggressive creatures from the past, present and future are infiltrating our time. You must attack and kill these "time strikers" and investigate what is going on. Translation: you walk around basic levels killing everything in sight solving puzzles no harder than pushing the right buttons to open doors. Before each mission, a funny-looking commander briefs you. These sequences usually involve watching two animated people talk and can't quite match up to the high-quality FMVs out there today.
The most commendable aspect of the game is the monsters. Chasm has 16 original enemies from various time periods. These range from basic scorpions to alien captains. There are also 4 masters: the Sarcophagus, who has a surgically implanted chainsaw arm and rocket launcher, the Phantom (two swords and a fireball), a Sphinx and a Time Judge. Another interesting aspect about the enemies is that different parts of their anatomy will fly off as you fire at them (get your mind out of the gutter, not those parts). Arms and heads will fly different directions during the heat of the battle, depending on where they are shot. Enemies have a descent polygon count, smooth animations and, are pretty original.
Along with the enemies, Chasmhas a couple of cool little effects also saving it from disaster. When first starting the game, the player appears outside in a rainstorm. The atmospheric effects as well as the rain falling through holes in the ceiling are just little things that add to the overall experience. Also, different lights can be shot out, removing a light source from that level.
Unfortunately, the 3D engine is just too outdated. Other than the fact that it supports 3D objects (mostly enemies), Chasm's engine can't even stand up to the earlier BUILD engine (Duke Nukem 3D, Blood, Shadow Warrior). The ceiling height almost never changes and, sometimes as a result, jumping often feels awkward... at one point I was hitting my head on the sky (ceiling with sky texture). Chasm runs smoothly in 320X200 on any modern system. However, Chasm does not support 3D accelerators and is unplayable in any mode other than the standard 320x200.
The graphics look decent. Again, enemies are probably the best graphical aspects of the game, being both innovative and pleasing to the eye, and there is enough of a variety of textures, weapons and objects to keep the game interesting. Throughout the game, you can pick up a super shotgun, bladegun, laser crossbow, volcano (gatling gun), grenader, land mine, and a "secret" weapon that is not unlike the BFG from Doom.
Sounds, like graphics, are decent and stay within the standards set by other 3D shooters. From the "hooh" emitted when jumping to the "chk chk" sound of grabbing ammo, Chasm's sounds are extremely average.
Chasm just isn't advanced enough to compete with all the awesome 3D shooters already out on the market, not to mention those that are coming out soon. Although it has innovative ideas, the simple 3D engine and lack of any 3D acceleration will always keep Chasm in the shadow of other games.