Author: Paul Glancey
Publisher: Rainbird
Machine: Atari ST

Published in Computer & Video Games #100


Something's afoot on snowy Midwinter Island and, as the leader of the Free Villages Peace Force, Captain John Stark feels he should know what it is. Ever since an unidentified ship was spotted heading into Thunder Bay on the south east corner of Midwinter, islandwide radio communications have been jammed. Could this mean that megalomaniac General Masters has finally decided to invade?

Stark discovers that Masters has established a bridgehead at Shining Hollow which his invasion force is marching across to capture Midwinter's southernmost settlements. Thirty-two Peace Force members have to assembled to halt the General's forces before they capture all the settlements or the island's power stations, but with radio communications dead, the message will have to be passed on by word of mouth. There's not a moment to lose, so Stark sets off on his skis to the nearest Peace Force officer to spread the word.

There are several modes of transport available in Midwinter. It being a snowbound isle, everyone has a pair of skis, but skiing between settlements is slow and long journeys can be exhausting. A snow buggy is faster, but they can only be found in garages, which not all settlements have. When a buggy is not available it may be easiest to take a cable car to the top of a mountain, then collect a hang-glider at the summit and fly the rest of the way. Whichever method you choose, the journey is depicted in solid 3D graphics which are fractal-generated and light-source shaded for extra realism.


Every agent travels armed with a rifle, a pack of grenades and some dynamite. The rifle and grenades can be used to destroy enemy buggies, drone planes or bombers, and the dynamite is useful for sabotage. Buggies and hang-gliders are armed with missiles.

Once Stark has contacted another Peace Force member, he has to send him or her off to warn more members and enlist them to his Home Guard and so it goes on throughout the network. It's worth checking an agent's biography before dispatching him, though, as some of them hold grudges against others. So for example, Sergeant Ambler will find it difficult to recruit Gunn if his biography shows he once ran off with Mrs. Gunn!

Atari ST

Midwinter is astonishing! It's just so vast, yet the gameplay is so intricate that it will take months of play to get through it.

So comprehensive is the command system that the player's course of action is hardly ever restricted and consequently there are dozens of winning strategies. The urgency created by the time factor, the travel sequences with their amazing frosty 3D graphics and the "realness" of the characters provide a feeling of being there only to my mind matched by the likes of Elite and Dungeon Master, and like those two games, this one is undoubtedly set to be a classic.

Paul Glancey

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