a lot of people know this -- but light years into the
future men will discover life on Mars. Oooh! Shock!
Horror! Gasp! Not only that, but they'll be mining valuable
minerals there, battling against horrible slimy monsters
and using the place as a sort of penal colony. Nice,
huh? Oh yeah, and one day you're going to crash land
right into the middle of it.
on a not very welcoming planet with no ship and no dosh,
you've got to find a way to earn some money. Lucky for
you that there's a reward out for anyone who finds out
why the authorities have lost contact with the outpost
that you can drop your dram of billy-goat bile and rush
out there straight away: it helps if you've got a few
friends and a bit of experience on your side. Until
you've managed to explore parts of the planet's other
cities, you've got no chance.
best place to pick your companions (only one at first)
is . . . wait for it . . . the pub. Da daaa. Each individual
has personal attribute and skill ratings. In addition
to all the usual categories like might and wisdom, there
are a few more specialist matters: how clever you are
at using automatic weapons, speaking foreign languages
(I'm great at that, me), expertise at computer hacking,
and so on.
action is displayed pretty much in Bard's Tale
style with neat and detailed illustrations of your location
in the top left hand corner of the screen -- and boy,
do they take your breath away! They're definitely the
most impressive I've seen in a 64 RPG, so far: every
inside location has its own sequence of animation and
a slick overhead view can be accessed at any time. Not
only that, an auto-map draws the areas you've passed
through and saves the maps. User-friendly or user-friendly?
and experience are almost the only things that count.
If you haven't got the cash, you can't go to university
or Personal Development Center to improve your abilities
and if you haven't got enough experience you won't get
on the courses anyway. Obviously, your first job is
to get hold of some experience pretty fast. This is
achieved by performing tasks for other people and --
my favourite activity of all -- fighting.
in combat mode that the program really comes out well.
As in Pool of Radiance (reviewed last month)
the action switches to full-screen graphics. If you're
feeling bored you can just let the computer carry out
your orders (you don't even have to watch if you don't
want to) but if you're not, you can work out the strategies
by yourself. That way you have a lot more control over
the speed at which the action unfolds.
the graphics are great, the scenario's unusual and the
environment is outsize underpants size, so what more
do you want? If you're after an RPG that's just a little
bit different, raid your Christmas piggy-bank and check