Up and coming. (Game Insider)
by Peter Olafson
It looks like Tsunami is going to make waves this year. Ring-world II, which continues the exploration of Larry Niven's vast ribbonlike world, will permit control of individual characters. It's also expected to be two to three times larger than the first game, with more challenging puzzles. Also coming is Protostar II, a sequel to the Starflight-like RPG, which adds 3-D sequences.
Perhaps most intriguing is an untitled project, still in its early programming stages, that will permit you to use SimCity 2000 saved-game files to generate 3-D cities--cities which will continue to develop-- which you'll navigate (and presumably reduce to smoldering rubble) from the catbird's seat of a giant robot. This action-packed simulation will use particle animation (which is to say that shards from exploding objects don't all behave in the same fashion) and so-called voodoo physics (which dictates that heavy and light robots will maneuver differently). The game is slated for release late in the year.
Other themes. Theme Park is the newest sim from England's Bullfrog (the group behind Populous, PowerMonger, and Syndicate), created for Electronic Arts. You put down the attractions, build the little roads leading up to them, and set the prices. You also get to design roller coasters (complete with loops) and hope they stay on the tracks.
Wondering how Sierra's going to top Outpost CD, its new SimCity-in-space spectacular? Possibly with Phantasmagoria. It's still in the early stages of development, and only a few screens from Roberta Williams's in-development horror game were on display at the recent CES, but they looked promising in a larger-than-life way. This game will feature live actors chatting in gorgeous hand-drawn settings. Sierra's also hard at work on King's Quest VII.
The rush is on to hop on the 3-D bandwagon pioneered by Wolfenstein 3-D and Doom. If Bethesda's Rampage, Origin's Shadowcaster, and Apogee's Blake Stone haven't given you enough long hallways filled with interesting wall tiles to explore, look for Capstone's Corridor 7: Alien Invasion (what? a Capstone title not licensed from a TV show or movie?) real soon now, and Rescue 911 (ah, I knew it was just a fluke!) later in the year. They're both built using a variation on the original Wolfenstein engine. While Corridor 7 doesn't have the sharp, clean look of some of its 3-D competitors, the company has the basic playability and shock value down pat.
In the works. Freelancer is coming soon from England's Imagetec (The Humans, Daemonsgate, and the forthcoming Raiden and Evolution). The game sports detailed, Doom-like graphics and a seamless movielike intro animation by Tobias Richter, whom Amiga owners will remember for his splendid "Star Trek" animations. This game features computer-controlled characters who aren't simple cannon fodder and who have agendas that do not coincide with yours. (In other words, you're going to have to race to beat them to the punch.) The opponents aren't drawn, but filmed, and they move through the game at 25 frames per second.
The news hasn't been good for what looked like a promising entry in the Ultima Underworld school of free-scrolling RPGs. Twin Dolphin Games' Forgotten Castles, which looked dazzling at its unveiling at last summer's CES, has run into the computer-game equivalent of the tuna net. The EA affiliate was to have delivered the game last November, but delays in finishing the 3-D engine and interface ultimately led to the withdrawal of the company's main investor in late October. Matters were further complicated by the departure of the game's chief engineer in early December, according to president Steve Ruszak. Twin Dolphin Games itself probably won't last beyond the summer, but there are other fish in the sea, and Ruszak reckons Forgotten Castles--which is 60 to 70 percent complete--may yet surface. Both it and the 3- D engine are for sale as a package, and he's optimistic the company will find a buyer.
Back on track is Battlecruiser 3000, which was originally slated for release last year by Three-Sixty Pacific. The developer, Mission Studios (which will also be bringing out Jet-fighter III), has since hooked up with Interplay for distribution, and BC3K should be out by the time you read this. A company representative at Winter CES described the game as "Wing Commander, with Falcon 3.0, some resource management, and a little adventure mixed in."