We all know the Bitmap Brothers created heaps of great games in their Amiga days, but it’s only a select handful that still hold that cult status amongst the hardcore. Speedball II and, to a certain extent, Xenon 2 are the main ones, but The Chaos Engine deserves to be included in that list.
2 player co-op wasn’t as frequent as it is now back in the 90’s, and when it is done with such quality, as was the case in both the original and it’s sequel, you can see just how enjoyable this Commando style shooter was.
The story was something ripped straight from the Hollywood screenwriting pages and involved Britain put into quarantine after a mad scientist’s work goes out of control and takes on a mind of it’s own, tempting mercenaries to enter the savaged land and take on a lucrative mission of freeing the Kingdom from it’s technological prison.
There were 6 characters to choose from, but in the US there was a change of personnel, as the Preacher was not really liked, probably due to religious backgrounds, so his collar was dropped and he was made a scientist, just to keep everyone happy.
The 16 levels, four contained within each of the four worlds, played like a dream and if you can find a way to do it nowadays, holds up very well, so much so in fact that this could easily be re-done as an XBLA game quite nicely, ESPECIALLY when you already have a 2 player co-op gameplay mechanic that is the bread and butter of most games of this type these days.
The sequel was another belter, but without the first it would never have been, which is why this original holds a place in our hearts to this day. The fact that both games were ported to the consoles of the era also shows their stopping power, although for whatever reason the name of the game was different in, yes, you guessed it, America. They called this Soldiers of Fortune, which nowadays is either linked to the opening credits of the A-Team or to the sadistic PC shooter from a decade or so ago.
To me, it will always be the Chaos Engine, and one of the best of its kind available on the Amiga.