Wrath Of Earth is an action-adventure game made by two no-name companies, one of which has long been defunct and one which now works on IT solutions for commercial and business purposes. Both of these companies should have been working on new games now and into the future, but due to a lack of advertising and hype, this game amounted to very little. Had this game been advertised properly, it would have been huge.
Wrath of Earth starts with you being dropped onto a planet after a distress signal was detected from a mining colony on a planet called Thermadax, which is so far away that the distress signal took five years to reach Earth. The colony is a mess, with very few of the colonists still alive, and various forms of mutated human life and vicious, vindictive robots with large guns roaming around on the surface attacking, strangely, only you. Maybe it's because the survivng humans are, for the most part, unarmed, and you are in a large exoskeleton-like suit with various formed of weaponry mounted on it. Over the course of the game you explore 2 planets, a moon and a shuttle. While this is only twelve levels, each of these levels will take you more than an hour on average, an probably close to two hours, which makes Wrath of Earth a long game. Add to this any 'side-quests' or secrets, and the total playing time for Wrath of Earth can come close to 40 hours, making it one of the longest action games ever made.
The graphics consist of a Wolfenstein-like grid-based arrangement of walls, floors and ceilings with some beautiful but pixelated skies, which, considering the game was made in 1995, are maybe a bit behind the times, but given that Wrath of Earth would run on a 386 thanks to the programmer's amazing assmebly programming skills, it targeted a much larger market than games like Quake and still looked acceptable. The art style of the game is consistent and flows nicely between levels, and very little of the game feels out of place. Among this are impressive cutscenes with cool looking ships and planet-size explosions.
The music succeeds in both setting the atmosphere and the pace of the game, and although it only uses default Adlib instruments, it makes good use of them. The sound is also very good, with footsteps changing their tone based on the surface that you are walking on, and the beeps of mind-control devices and the moans of mutated humans haunt you almost everywhere that you go - until you kill them, that is. The voice acting is unrealistically all done in a British accent, but it's otherwise well made.
The gameplay of Wrath of Earth is balanced halfway between run-and-gun and newer tactical shooters, with plenty of action for the run-and-gun fans and plenty of running for cover from hordes of well-armed and incredibly strong enemies to get a tactical advantage. Thankfully, your suit can recharge its own power and repair itself using energy from almost any light source, so you will frequently find yourself retreating to well-lit areas to repair and recharge, especially in darkly lit levels, before jumping back into close combat. It can take a lot of energy to empty a room, and the doors in the game cunningly close when whoever opened them steps away from them, which stops you from being able to use doorways as a firing position. This often leads to having to throw yourself into the centre of a room with a rapid-fire weapon to make any real progress, and that is the real heart of the action in this game.
The weapons themselves are, while mostly being your standard first-person shooter style weapons in an excellent disguise, all have a well-defined purpose in the game and are well-balanced (with the notable exception of the Multiple Smart Warhead Launcher) and very stylised, ranging from the three-barreled wrist-mounted Atmospheric Condenser to the sleek, menacing Drop-to-Launch Warhead Launcher to the bulky and almost evil-looking Tracking Plasma Cannon. You start with all of the weapons, but other than the first three weapons which either feed from your power supply or don't use ammo, you have to find ammunition for them.
Other than just shooter-style gameplay, Wrath of Earth also adds puzzle elements to the gameplay as security systems that are used for protecting various parts of facilities, such as the puzzles protecting the Thermadax transmitter. The interaction with the humans in the game is also very important, with humans being a large source of weapons, health, energy packs and vital information. If you kill one, then the others in a particular area will refuse to talk to you and may even attack you, so it is important to ask questions before shooting everything that moves. However, your HUD can identify friendly humans as such, and therefore very few questions have to be asked.
To complicate the gameplay even further, both ambient temperature and radioactivity are present in the game, and affect your movement, the effectiveness of your weapons, and the speed that your power drains at. If an area is cold, the floor will be icy and so you will slide far more than on a warmer surface, and your power will drain faster as your suit tries to keep you warm. If an area is too hot or cold, your health and suit strength will begin to deteriorate. Thankfully there is an infra-red mode that allows you to see areas of hot or cold, and also radioactivity, as radioactive areas tend to be warmer.
Yet another thing to keep in mind is the strength of your suit's components. The more your shield has been depleted, the more other parts of your suit will become damaged and affect its performance accordingly, such as your weapons becoming more erratic and slower-firing before failing completely, or your personal health being deteriorated more as your life support becomes damaged.
Your suit itself also has several modes, with various features and functionality for each. In Search Mode, you have a small map and a compass, as well as an on-screen indicator to show where enemies, friends and useful items are, in Attack Mode you can use your weapons and have a radar and distance information on enemies and friendlies, in Inventory Mode you can manage special items like mines, ECM systems and keycards, et cetera.
One of the nicest touches is a mouse system that mimics classic adventure games that allows you to control almost every aspect of the game with the mouse, including changing the colour of your HUD and effectively killing everything with a few swift movements, although there is nothing significantly better than controlling it with the keyboard other than the movement is a little more fluid.
The gameplay of Wrath of Earth was far more cerebral and involving than most games of the time, and had an excellent storyline, good quality sound, atmospheric music and a helpful and sensible mouse control system. Despite a lack of modern detail in the graphics department, this game should have been a classic, and is without a doubt in my mind one of the greatest games ever made. I have no hesitation in awarding this game a 5.
Don't change the key bindings in SETUP.COM, as the values don't match up with the game's values. Change them from the game's Options menu.
You will need to set xms and ems to false in dosbox.conf for Wrath of Earth to work at all. This game will work best on 50000 cycles or higher, but will still work, albeit a little slowly, on as low as 10000 cycles. Just give it max.