Sims and Newton games. (simulations) (Game Insider)
by Shay Addams
Submarine simulations are back, and they're sporting all kinds of technological advances in graphics and sound effects. SSN-21: Sea Wolf, the Electronic Arts entry in the new fleet of sub sims, emphasizes digitized sound effects as you wage war against the hard-line communists who have taken over Russia again. In an underwater search for the ememy, you must learn to distinguish between the sonar signals of whales, friendly subs, and the foe. With Sea Wolf, you're not limited to playing against the computer--with a modem or a network, you can go head-to-head against another person.
Dynamix's first sub simulations, Aces of the Deep, is an all-new interpretation of submarine warfare designed by Mike Jones, who designed Three-Sixty's long-running hit, Harpoon. It's built around a graphics and menu system similar to that of the company'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 3-D technology depicts incredibly realistic ocean waves when you're at the surface or looking through the periscope.
Harpoon 2 also uses the latest technology to resurrect a type of game that some people thought would never rise again. Harpoon 2 not only makes a giant leap from the original game's EGA graphics to Super VGA graphics, but even supports one of the highest levels of SVGA: 1024 x 768 resolution. It also incorporates fuzzy logic, the latest wave in artificial intelligence. Fuzzy logic more closely approximates the decision-making process of a human being than does pulling choices from a tree of alternatives that branch off in linear fashion. Release earlier this year for the IBM, Harpoon 2 should arrive soon for the Macintosh.
Dig it? Jurassic Park producer Steven Spielberg doing an adventure game? With Brian Moriarty, whose credits include LucasArts' Loom and Infocom's Trinity? As I mentioned last month, this unexpected cross-media collaboration occurred when Spielberg realized that a tale he wanted to produce theatrically might work better as a computer game. An adventure game enthusiast, Spielberg teamed up with Moriarty, a veteran game designer who got his start working at Adventure International's geodesic dome in Florida, to create The Dig.
The story commences with the discovery of a strange asteriod. When four scientists set out to explore its rocky surface, they discover too late that it's actually a booby trap that transports them to a distant world--a world from which they must escape and where they must eventually and ravel a panorama of secrets. The Dig promises to be a darker story than previous LucasArts outings, such as Secret of Monkey Island and Day of the Tentacle, and will make extensive use of cinematic sequences and sounds. Moriarty's talent for designing adventure games makes it all that more likely to succeed.
Another graphic adventure to look for is Access's latest in the Tex Murphy detective series. Under a Killing Moon was supposed to ship on two CDs during the first quarter. The first to feature major Hollywood actors (Margot Kidder and Russell Means), it will also be released on floppies sometime this spring. Look for a complete profile in this month's entertainment feature.
Sierra On-Line is moving in new directions with the imminent release of The Outpost. Though the company is better known for its graphic adventures and volatile stock prices, this game is a multimedia space strategy extravaganza that may open new doors for Sierra. (For a more traditional Sierra title, hold on for Phantasmagoria later this spring.)
Turned me inot a Newton. If you need to play on the road, now there are games for Apple's Newton. Marc Blank and Michael Berlyn, who created early Infocom classics such as Zork and Suspended, teamed up to form their own development company late last year. Their first games for the Newton include Columbo's Mystery Caper and Dell Crossword Puzzles. Based on Peter Falk's Columbo character from the TV series, the mystery game is a graphical product with 40 crimes for you to solve. The Dell games offer hundreds of crossword puzzles, word searches, and crypograms. These titles are packed onto little PCMCIA cards. Who knows? With game designers like Berlyn and Blank creating titles for the Newton, this kind of device could eventually replace Nintendo's Game Boy--at least for the executvies in the crowd.