PRETTY GOOD FOR A MURDERER
Look, I just need to get this out of the way, okay?
OMFG THE GRAPHICS ARE GREAT OMG OMG OMG!!!
So yes - lovely graphics. But as with almost every Chase Bramlage game, the gorgeous visuals can't make up for the dreadful, dreadful gameplay.
In the case of NEO, you're tossed from subgame to subgame with only the tiniest fraction of a second before your character is horribly killed by snipers/mines/guards/whatever. There are no helpful explanations of what to expect on each screen, just a brief few seconds before you're tapping the ESC key and glowering at your monitor. Chase's games seem to be less a test of the player's skills and more some kind of twisted Pavlovian experiment, with the player acting out the part of the salivating dog. Except instead of spit, all you'll have in your mouth at the end of playing is bile.
Assuming you can get through the teeth-gratingly difficult five screens allotted to each character, you'll get a passcode for the next disc which - apparently - was never released.
The plot is thrown at the player in a 500-word infodump (the lamest of all literary devices) at the start, although it pretty much boils down to "DNDNDNNDNDN SUPER SOLDIERS". There's virtually no actual plot progression because of the missing second disk and frankly, the only real entertainment comes from Bramlage's laughable spelling ("Washingtom, Philadelpia").
One point for being pretty. None for anything else.
I played this game by pure chance, just going around and downloading random games. I must say that this game is the most original piece of ZZT gold that I have ever seen. The graphics are astounding and the concept is brilliant. The smallest details add to the value of this game in every way, such as the stock ticker during the news cast.
It has only a few faults, but they are big ones. The instant kills are every where. Some are very understandable(walking in front of a sniper) but others are just annoying (running too close to the enemy.) The second flaw, it's very hard, unfairly so, especially Blade's half of the game. The reason for this is the steep learing curve. Right from the start you have no idea what to do. I was killed so many times the escape key began to fade. However, and this happened only once to me and was really cool, suddenly instinct kicks in, and you know exactly what to to, you sense the trap and you feel like an action hero when you avoid it...
The best part of the game, outside of the brilliant graphics that make even a veteran ZZTer cry, is the multitude of engines. The game just never becomes boring, frusterating yes... but even when you've jumped on the same landmine seven times, you still want to play on....
What does one come to expect from Chase Bramlage? Another mind-bogglingly good ZZT game like N-E-O is no great surprise. Bramlage is doubtless one of the ZZTing elite, despite his lack of activity in the community.
Many years into the future, mass changes in global economic markets have made a huge market in the United States a viable option. Thus, five powerful eastern US cities are merged into one huge super-metropolis - New Earth Operations, or N-E-O. In a world with genetic engineering in humans prevalent, particularly in the army, and the intense competition between the US and China, you are either Ace, a genetically enhanced super-soldier for the United States GEC, or Blade, an unidentified man with a very obscure past and unnatural abilities.
In Ace's introduction, you are pursuing a nuclear terrorist through the lesser parts of N-E-O, and in Blade's, attempting an escape (one of the hardest boards to complete of any game I've played) from an ERG (the Chinese genetic engineering company) compound.