Amstrad Action


Mercenary

Author: Bob Wade
Publisher: Novagen Software Ltd
Machine: Amstrad CPC464

 
Published in Amstrad Action #20

AA Rave

Mercenary

When you talk about conversions to the Amstrad, you often think of versions that were knocked off in a couple of minutes from a Spectrum game, so it comes as a pleasant surprise when one is as good as this. It was certainly a job and a half to squeeze in all the excellent vector graphics and game features, well accomplished by Dr David Aubrey-Jones from Paul Woakes' original.

You start on an interstellar flight controlled by your computer Benson. The trip goes horribly wrong, and you crash-land on the planet Targ. Benson gives you a running commentary on events but fails to prevent the ship ending up nose-first in the dirt. Your task is to find another ship that can get you off this godforsaken, war-torn hell-hole and back to your life as a soldier of fortune. Not that the planet doesn't offer opportunities in that direction.

Standing by your wrecked ship, Benson informs you you've crashed next to an airstrip where a ship is for sale. Cough up the credits and you can be on the move. You could walk around on foot but it's unpractically slow on the planet's surface. You'll quickly get a message from one of the two protagonists in Targ's civil war, and this will help you find your first important location. Here you can investigate one of the city's underground complexes.

Mercenary: Escape From Targ

Flying the ship is easy. Even if you do pile it into the planet, you will only be thrown clear and can re-board without damage. You will come across several different craft. Some stay on the ground; all differ in speed potential, handling characteristics and height ceilings.

When you reach the location given to you at the start you can take an elevator down to the underground complex. Here you'll have to move around on foot to search the many rooms and corridors. These can contain objects which you can pick up and use later. Some doors will be locked, and others bear symbols - you'll need to become familiar with them because they do confusing things like teleporting you all over the city.

You can't manipulate the objects much. But Benson will let you know what you've picked up, and then it's up to you to deduce what to do with it. An awful lot of exploring will be needed before you'll get very far with the adventure part of the game, so it's important to make maps of the underground complexes. It's also very handy to use the save game feature.

Mercenary: Escape From Targ

Back above ground there are lots of buildings that don't serve much purpose except to sit at junctions of roads looking good. You can fly around and through them, and if you fire a missile at them they'll collapse spectacularly. That, however, brings the locals' ships down on you. They can put your ship out of action, scattering your possessions and leaving you to find another one.

In the long run you need to find a ship with enough thrust to get to an orbiting Colony Craft above the city and then find the ship that can get you off the planet. To start with, this is a daunting prospect but becomes more realistic as you become familiar with the world of Targ.

The graphics both above and below ground are very smooth and fast-moving vector (wire-frame) graphics. These work well, particularly for collapsing buildings, but the screen is frequently quite bare of features. Initially you'll just want to fly and walk around the game before tackling the task in hand.

Mercenary: Escape From Targ

This is the game's strong point, its creation of a "real" environment. You actually feel like you're flying around the city and walking the corridors of its underground buildings. Most players will be intrigued and absorbed by this, but the dreaded word "boring" may occur to some. If you get involved with the "real world" atmosphere and the adventure task I don't think that should be a problem.

It's certainly a game you should look at, if only to see the smoothness and speed of the graphics, and for many it will be an escape into a world they may not want to leave. Escape From Targ will certainly prove harder than escaping the real world by playing.

Second Opinion

Some of the fastest and smoothest vector graphics are incorporated within Mercenary. Initially there is little action (boredom may set in) but the pace soon hots up: there is a whole world to explore: cities, buildings, rooms and a mission - get off the planet.

Green Screen View

Mercenary: Escape From Targ

The sparse use of colour means that in green-screen, the game is perfectly visible.

Verdict

Graphics 84%
P. Smooth and fast vector graphics.
P. Screen is often very bare.

Sonics 20%
N. Just a few effects.

Mercenary: Escape From Targ

Grab Factor 78%
P. Feels like you've entered a new world.
N. Lots of exploring but not much doing at first.

Staying Power 87%
N. Very tough to get off Targ.
P. Once hooked, the exploring and adventuring is unstoppable.

Overall 85%
Very original combination of flight sim, shoot-'em-up and adventure.

Bob Wade

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