Midwinter. (computer game) (Evaluation)
by Alfred C. Giovetti
Mother Nature has delivered a premature ice age in response to global warming. When the level of the seas dropped, a submarine mountain peak emerged from the depths to form the frozen island you now inhabit. You are Captain John Stark, a peace officer, and you have just gone out on patrol.
While you're on patrol, the evil General Masters and his personal army begins to occupy the southeastern tip of your island. His troops push north and west to occupy the mines that bring the heat of the earth's magma to the surface and make life possible on the frigid planet.
As Captain Stark, you must find allies and recruit them to your cause. Place good skiers in snow vehicles in a defensive line across the southeastern part of the island. If that line holds, you'll have a slim chance of reclaiming the island by destroying the invading forces.
Much in Midwinter depends upon chance. Chance determines both your position and that of the enemy at the beginning of the game. Should you begin play in a very remote area, you'll have little chance of winning the game. Should you fail to quickly establish a strong defensive line of snowmobiles, or if they don't hold off the advancing army, again, you'll fail.
Roam the fractal-generated, 160,000-square-mile, 3-D polygon-filled landscape and enjoy a variety of heads-up winter sports. You can hang glide, ski, snowmobile, or travel by cable car. You can blow up buildings or practice your marksmanship. It makes you wonder if the designer--Mike Singleton of the United Kingdom and Rainbird--decided in midproject to move a Winter Olympics game closer to role-playing territory.
The interface allows for joystick, mouse, or keyboard control. Only the mouse lacked the precision to control the various icon-driven features of the game. A heads-up display with the center of the screen cut to resemble the view through snow goggles or the windshield of your vehicle adds somewhat to the feeling of being there. While you're skiing or hang gliding, the bodyheat icon is the most important, since you can freeze to death in the-25-degree temperature. When you're traveling by snowmobile, the most important icons are the gas gauge and the angle of the slope. Snowmobiles turn over when the slope is too steep.
Here, as in a role-playing game, each of the 32 nonplayer characters has attributes that determine performance, proficiency, and speed at a number of crucial tasks. The attributes don't appear to change through the course of the all-too-quick game.
Ultimately, Midwinter proves perhaps a bit too challenging. The characters don't seem to work well together, and success depends upon chance rather than strategy or good gameplay. When I finally called the MicroProse support line for help with the game, I was told that Midwinter was a UK product and I would have to call them for support.
While I enjoyed skiing, snowmobiling, and hang gliding, I recommend Midwinter only to the most skilled gamers. After a time, the difficulty will overpower the value of the game's realism and leave you could.
ALFRED C. GIOVETTI