Virtual unreality. (computer games featured at 1993 Consumer Electronics Show in Chicago, Illinois)
by Shay Addams
This is absolutely the last time I'll ever attend CES via its new virtual-reality option, created "exclusively for journalists unable to travel to Chicago for the Consumer Electronics Show." Due to a telecommunications glitch caused by one whopping big sunspot, I inadvertently entered the online virtual world of TSN (The Sierra Network)--and spent the next three days trying to find my way out of Larryland! I managed to rip the virtual helmet off my head just in time to catch the last flight out of Tucson and see demos of all the new games previewed at CES--several of which should be on the shelves by the time you finish this sentence.
One I can't wait for is Bloodstone, an epic Dwarven tale that's "a role-playing game in the classic style," according to Mindcraft's Ali Atabek, best known for his Magic Candle series. "No technological marvels, no startling new features," he continues. "It's the gameplay and intriguing story that make Bloodstone." What Bloodstone lacks in bells and whistles, it makes up for with curious characters, bizarre races, and unconventional monsters. The Killgrill, for instance, is a ferocious creature that looks exactly like a barbecue grill. Another uncommon aspect is Bloodstone's incorporation of alternative endings. As you progress through the quest, you must constantly make decisions regarding two Dwarven tribes, and the outcome hinges on which tribe you choose to help.
Siege: Walls of Rome is Mindcraft's follow-up to Siege. In addition to a different historical setting, it features a wholly rewritten engine whose artificial intelligence is less predictable than that employed in Siege, making the game more challenging. You wage similar battles: knocking down or defending city walls and fortifications with catapults, boiling oil, and infantry troops. Walls of Rome also introduces a heightened sense of authenticity. Mindcraft thoroughly researched ancient Rome to make the troops, weapons, and other aspects of the game as historically accurate as possible. The Carthaginians ride elephants into battle, and sappers (used to tunnel under walls and collapse them) form an important and realistic part of your arsenal in this tactical war game.
Mindcraft also has a futuristic strategy role-playing game called Strike Squad on the way, offering the latest in high-end graphics and animation.
Dynamix's first sub simulation, Graue Wolfe (Gray Wolf), is an all-new interpretation of submarine warfare designed by Mike Jones, who did the classic Harpoon. It's built around a graphics and menu system similar to Dynamix's Great Warplanes series. In addition to individual missions as a German U-boat captain, you may also play out an entire career that spans World War II. A new implementation of Dynamix's 3-Space technology depicts ocean waves when you're surfaced or looking through the periscope as you've never seen them in a computer game.
Evil wizards, power crystals, mazes, crypts--all the trappings of the traditional monsters-and-mazes genre await the adventurer who sets foot in King's Ransom, a role-playing game from Canada's ReadySoft. its most distinguishing aspect is graphics that scroll in any direction when you move. According to ReadySoft, the frame rate hits 60 frames per second, which accounts for the incredibly smooth scrolling.
Next month, look for Leisure Suit Larry VI, the latest in Al Lowe's series about Larry Laffer and his nonstop quest for girls, girls, girls. This time, you, as Larry, enter a TV dating game show. The grand prize is a two-week vacation at the La Costa Lotta resort, where Lowe promises Larry will meet "more girls than ever before!" as you quest your way to a world-class rendezvous in the penthouse suite (but not with Passionate Patti!). Sierra says there is no frontal nudity, but the game is rated PG-13. With Larry VI Sierra launches a new and unique look for each new adventure. This one will show hi-res graphics when running in Windows, as well as lo-res graphics under DOS. It also introduces a scrolling text window at the bottom of the screen, one you can scroll back to review recent dialogue and narration.