Computer Graphics Memory Hard Disk Space Minimum 486-33 VGA 4MB 35MB Max/Rec: 486-50 8+ MB Control: Mouse, keyboard; joystick, Cyberman optional Sound: Adlib, SoundBlaster/PRO/16/AWE 32, MPU-401 General MIDI, GUS Reviewed on: 486-66, 12 MB, Orchid SoundWave 32 (SB + GMIDI), DOS 6.0.
You wake up from a healing coma after a cyberjack implant operation and suddenly realize that something is terribly wrong! The space station is overrun by mutants, cyborgs and robots -- all serving Shodan, a "ruthless artificial intelligence." As you explore the station, you find dead bodies of crewmembers, piecing together their log entries to figure out what happened and to find clues as to how to defeat Shodan, all the while fighting for your life.
At the top of the viewing area are status bars (health, energy) and posture indicators/controls. By clicking on the posture controls, you can crouch, lay prone, look up and down, and lean to either side. This can also be controlled by the keyboard. You can move while crouching and you can also "crawl". This allows you to go through low passages. The fact that all objects in the environment everything is 3D-rendered means you can do things like crawl under desks! You can also run, jump and climb.
To the sides of the viewing area are selection buttons for turning on and off various "hardware" which you acquire during the game, such as enhanced sight, navigation, body shields, etc. These items consume energy which can be replaced by fresh batteries or "power stations." My favorite item has to be the "skates" -- when these are activated, you careen around at a high rate of speed (with the view tilting to each side as you go around corners). Lots of fun. :)
The bottom of the viewing area is devoted to inventory, data, automap and targeting (if so equipped). These displays are HUDs (overlayed) in full screen mode and can be turned on and off.
The environment is fully 3D -- you can walk under and over bridges. Some objects, however (things you can pick up, dead bodies, etc.), are fixed bitmaps.
Much of the game is exploration. The levels (8 main levels) are large and quite complex. The automap is an absolute necessity and allows map notes to be entered. Secret doors/floors, twisty passageways, objects and clues abound. Security cameras and computer nodes must be destroyed to cripple Shodan and ruin his plans.
There is a fair amount of puzzle-solving as well. There are the usual button/lever puzzles and locked door puzzles along with putting clues together (moslty found in crewmembers' logs). Some puzzles are multi- level (you will have to go back and forth between levels). Some puzzles are just that -- puzzles -- like rewiring access panels. These are, however, generally simple and can be solved with a little trial and error.
To solve some puzzles you must enter "cyberspace" (enter the computer network). This is a game-within-a-game where you move around in a wire- frame 3D environment to gather data, activate some switches, etc. There are polygonal enemies, cyberspace weapons and powerups as well. I found the cyberspace segments to be a nice change of pace if nothing else.
Finally, there is combat. You have a wide array of weapons available to you. Most are some form of gun -- some types of guns/ammo do not damage some enemies so you'll have to experiment. Additionally, there are various kinds of grenades, bombs, and mines at your disposal. Throwing grenades is realistic and fun -- if you aim right, you can bounce them off walls and have them land around corners.
Some enemies merely claw at you, while others have high-tech weapons like yourself. That means that stealth is a great asset. Getting down on the floor, leaning to peek around corners, and quick shooting are often extremely helpful.
The physics, looking up and down, etc. do have a performance cost. My 486- 66 VLB (with a huge CPU cache) noticably drops frames when the view rotates past a long corridor or very large rooms, or when there are more than 3 or so enemies in sight. But this is with the game set at maximum detail and with the full-screen view. The game is quite playable and smooth in all other situations. In fact I am pleasantly surprised at the speed of the engine, taking into account how much it does. I do agree with Origin's recommendation of a 486-50 for full enjoyment.
The cyberspace graphics are simple-looking but extremely smooth. Nicely done for what it is.
Sound effects are good. Gunfire, explosions, robots buzzing, and enemy noises are well-done.
Music and sound volumes are separately adjustable.
Display intensity can be varied.
Much of the display itself can be customized. You can have your display essentially covered with status information or have it be nearly clutter- free.
On-line help is available. It can point out cameras, secret doors and such for you -- I recommend playing with it on through the first level until you get the feel of the game.