Stellar 7. (computer game) (evaluation)
by Wayne N. Kawamoto
The word stellar refers to something outstanding. In this sense, Stellar 7 is aptly named. This futuristic combat game from Dynamix features amazing action punctuated by enemy fire, eye-catching 256-color VGA graphics, and digital sound. Stellar 7 almost feels like a game from the future.
Although the action is definitely arcade, Stellar 7 has three-dimensional graphics that closely resemble those of the best flight and tank simulators. Looking out from the cockpit of your vehicle, you steer through fast arcade action that's set in the midst of excellent and realistic-feeling graphics. It's like a Star Wars battle on land with high-tech tanks.
The story is a classic plot from the pages of arcade literature (what an oxymoron!). It seems that some Darth Vader-esque character with a bad attitude and a voice like Arnold Schwartzenegger wants to take over the Earth. You are, of course, Earth's only hope and must fight off the invading forces (sound familiar?).
Your weapon is the Raven, which the documentation refers to as "the ultimate fighting machine"' It's a futuristic tank with an antigravity (agrav) generator that lets it hover two feet above any surface. The Raven's weapons include high-tech shields, cannons, radars, a cloaking device, and special thrusters.
You pilot your high-tech tank in any direction through a beehive of enemy vehicles and fire. Your tank has fixed turrets, so you must turn your entire vehicle to shoot at the enemy while avoiding its fire.
Unlike incompetent storm troopers who can't hit the side of a cargo ship, your enemy is dangerous, intelligent, and deadly. You have to move fast in order to shoot down the enemy planes, artillery, and tanks before they shoot you. Each time your tank takes a hit, you lose energy. When your power is gone, your shields drop. One more hit at this point, and the game is over.
The graphics exploit the 256-color VGA palette to the hilt. While the VGA graphics are incredible, the EGA graphics are still nice, and the CGA graphics are OK- The game is harder to play in EGA (even harder in CGA) because the objects on the radar are harder to differentiate.
The graphics are so well done that Dynamix features an actual screen shot on the package. How many times have you seen a game that even remotely resembles the picture on the box? Stellar 7 doesn't let you down. Some of the screens were originally airbrushed and then digitized to produce graphics with a distinctive look.
If you have a sound board, you'll hear first-rate sound effects and a relentless, but rousing, musical score. You'll also hear the characters' voices during the interludes. It's easy to get caught up in the action when you crank up the stereo sound. My insomnia-ridden neighbors probably heard me playing into the wee hours of the morning. The game is so addictive that I actually lost sleep playing it.
The documentation is brief and clearly written. The game is easy to install and a snap to learn-but with seven levels, it's a definite challenge. Overall, I preferred the joystick, but for certain shots that needed consistent accuracy, I preferred the keyboard.
If you want a break from computer games that bend your mind with puzzles or make you explore and map vast computer-generated worlds, treat yourself to Stellar 7. It's an shoot-'em-up arcade game with riveting action and incredible graphics.