A&B Computing1st January 1989
Published in A&B Computing 6.01
Coupla goodies for you this time - early versions of forthcoming releases from Superior and newcomers Black Knight: Exile and Infinity.
Exile has a lot to live up to. Already hailed as this year's megagame and with a teaser ad campaign in which the Elite and Zarch programmer, Dave Braben, says it is superb, etc. We ought then to be looking forward to this with keen anticipation.
I certainly was until I saw the demo screen that Superior had running at the PC Show; that was disappointing. It appeared to be some sort of cross between Codename: Droid and Airwolf - but maybe the fact that nobody on the stand had an idea how to play it didn't help.
Now I've seen a later demo of the game by Peter Irvin and Jeremy Smith and it looks intriguing, although the graphics still seem a little blurred. But what is the game? Would you believe yet another arcade adventure, Citadel style? But this time complete with a background book all about the hostile planet of Phoebus which you must explore, doing the usual killing, avoiding and collecting, with an enhanced Master version available featuring sampled sound.
There is one vital difference, however, between this and other arcade adventures - here you never die, you are just teleported away to either one of four positions which you can save as the game progresses or back to the start. First impressions are of a very large and complex adventure. This could be great fun - I'm eagerly waiting for a shot at the full game. You'll realise from this preview that other "reviews" have been a little premature, although the full version will be available by the time this A&B hits the streets.
Infinity, on the other hand, I've been playing quite a bit - though that isn't saying too much as this arcade adventure by W. Scales and Jon Thornewill (both new names to me) has a total of 1,024 (count 'em!) screens. These load in four batches of 256 screens, so I guess this is not a game to buy on tape.
Let's face it: this is a big game, and we don't even want to think at present of the enhanced Master version or how it might look on the conversions to C64, Spectrum or Electron, though the last is going to be pretty interesting. The object is simple (isn't it always that way?). To escape from the planet, you must collect six pieces of a radio dish, assemble them and then call for help. No problem. Well, to be honest, there is a problem or, to be even more honest, a number of them - more than 50 puzzles to solve, more than 30 different kinds of aliens to defeat, more than 128 objects to discover and more than 256 different background blocks to wonder at. Now with a game that size, you're not going to finish it at a sitting so the coders have thoughtfully provided a save game routine.
But how does it play? Pretty well from where I'm sitting. On the very advanced demo I've seen there's an option to choose Modes 1 or 5 (remember Spy Hunter?), but I'm not sure if that will remain. Once into the game, however, the fun begins. The graphics are large and fairly detailed and the movements available (left, right, up, down, jump, collect, use object) soon have the hero moving with dexterity up and down the trees and ladders, along the passageways and over the obstacles.
In essence you're going to be reminded of Citadel (again) if only because the first problem involves finding a way through a solid wall and large parts of the game take place in tunnels and caverns under the ground. The aliens may look unpleasant but their patterns are soon predictable, leaving the initial concern of the player to explore and (hopefully) map the large number of screens.
Maybe that's too many to copy with. I'm not sure but, map or not, it's going to be hard to recall the right route every time.
For my taste, the graphics (especially of the main character) are a little crude but that, I guess, is the payoff against size. It certainly plays well and, with much to explore and come to grips with, this is going to please many of you for quite some time. It's reminiscent of a number of other games but is clearly going to set a new standard in the complexity of arcade adventures.
Did I mention the secret passages? There are secret passages and a tree that needs watering and an extra life fish and all sorts. I don't know who these programmers are but they are certainly names to watch. Black Knight is to be congratulated in regaining the high ground after a number of, for me, disappointing releases.
I know it's early days and all that, but I think Infinity will be even more popular than Exile. I await the final, final version with keen interest and meanwhile, lads, could I have an infinite life version, please? I think I'm going to need it.