ST Games Gallery
Reviews: Empire, Super Huey, Breach
Super Huey is to helicopters what Flight Simulator II is to airplanes--a true simulation. But don't panic! A built-in "school" mission teaches the basics of flying a helicopter.
While the manual isn't as comprehensive as Flight Simulator's, it discusses the conventions of helicopter control and explains the main control systems. Flight controls are simulated with the mouse, while computer, navigation and weapons control commands are entered via the keyboard. Because of the different motions and button combinations required to fly Super Huey with a mouse, practice can be frustrating. But practice makes perfect.
This first-person simulator has a detailed control panel and makes excellent use of the ST's graphics. Some 33 functioning instruments, mostly analog or digital gauges, are displayed. The views from the large front windshield and smaller side windshields near the floor are excellent.
Most of the graphics detail, however, is concentrated in the cockpit display. Hostile aircraft and structures below the helicopter are far less detailed, but it's still unnerving to watch an enemy craft fire upon you during the rescue, exploration and combat missions, which you can enter at any time via the on-board computer:
Rescue Mission--You must find stranded military personnel with a limited homing device and carefully established air search techniques. They'll fire signal flares when they hear your engines. A careful landing lets these grateful men climb aboard to head back to base.
Exploration Mission--Map the terrain surrounding your base camp. The area is quite large and might best be explored in stages. Your on-board navigational tools will help, but a certain amount of dead-reckoning and compass savvy aren't hurt, either.
Combat Mission---Eliminate the 32-ship enemy force--but with only 20 rockets and 2,000 machine gun rounds. The enemy only attacks from the front, but skillful flying is necessary to avoid their experienced marksmanship.
Despite any gamelike ambience in Super Huey, remember that you must fly your aircraft, rather than simply steering in a given direction. This increases the challenge and adds to the realism. JOHN KINTZ
$39.95. Cosmi, 415 N. Figueroa Street, Wilmington, CA 90744. (213) 835-9687.
I rarely play a game that's so good and so addictive that I find myself starting a game in the late afternoon, and the next time I look at my watch it's 2 a.m. Credit Empire's magnetism to a captivating, complex scenario and a simple, intelligently designed user interface.
The evil Krellan Empire, aiming toward galactic control, has taken several low-technology planets. Your mission is to stop this onslaught, planet by planet, by transporting a landing party into a city and using it as a base for planetary control. As you take control of each metropolis, you direct it to produce for machines. It's usually wise to start with armies, which talie five turns to produce (six for the first unit, though more time is needed to retool factories). After the first dozen armies start moving over the land, you'll need transports to move them to other continents, planes to scout ahead and ships to control the seas.
Two or three can play computer controlling any or all sides. You can handicap players by giving them less production and worse accuracy in battle, while the computer has two skill settings.
Generate a random planet or load one from the disk, then begin your campaign. On a planet scale, you need not concern yourself with individual troops: you issue commands to units, directing them to more to a particular place, attack a given city and, later, engage the enemy. This sounds simple, but remember that the screen quickly fills with hundreds of units. Fortunately, the program makes the most of the ST's superior menu and windowing capabilities, making Empire surprisingly easy to play.
You can establish flight paths between cities to bring your planes to the front. The escort command moves ships in formation, and a group command mode lets you expand a box around a number of units and give them all the same order. With port cities generating mighty battleships, you soon command the oceans as well--but keep your eyes peeled for the enemy.
The program provides a status report showing how much of the world has been conquered, while the ship report shows the names and locations of your boats. A production map shows what each city is producing, and the world map gives an overview of the entire planet. Survey mode lets you check the orders given to any unit, and a status line at the top of the screen displays unit name, damage and current objective. The manual and reference card are thorough and concise.
My only complaint is that a little of the command logic design could be better. For instance, when vou start to transport loading armies, you're not alerted when loading is complete, so vital resources are idle for several turns. Also, ships often get hung up on shorelines waiting for orders, rather than using the shortest route to their destination--STEVE PANAK
$54.95. Interstel (Electronic Arts), 1820 Gateway Drive, San Mateo, CA 94404. (415) 571-7991.
Breach puts you in the distant future on some unnamed planet where you command a squadron of interstellar marines. (Any similarity to the movie "Aliens' is not purely coincidental.) The fighting scenarios become progressively tougher and each has a specific goal.
Breach also contains elements of role-playing games. The ultimate goal is survival and the advancement of your squad leader. One squad leader comes on the disk, but you can create others. The leader's death in battle deletes him from the disk.
Individual control of each marine is given in turn. Your options are limited to moving, firing weapons, and retrieving or using objects. When a marine's allotted movement points reach zero, you take control of the next marine down the line until the turn ends. The grenades, demolition charges, rocket launchers, etc. found by your troops are vital to successfully completing the assignments. The computer controls enemy forces and there are no provisions for a two-player game.
The graphics in Breach are nothing special. The marines lack detail and animation is limited. Fortunately the rich variety of terrain somewhat compensates for this--dirt, grass, beds, tables, computers and elevators. Commands are mouse/icon based.
The best element of Breach is the scenario builder--just as powerful as other "game construction kits" - which lets you create scenarios and missions far more exciting than those on the game disk. You can design as many as five levels of playfield with objects and characters, as well as set mission objectives. You can also design an entire invasion twice from scratch and determine individual strengths and weaknesses.
Hardcore wargamers will probably find Breach's variations on old themes intriguing, but for the rest of us this ST game just isn`t much fun.--HARVEY BERNSTEIN
$39.95. Omnitrend Software, P.O. Box 733, West Simsbury, CT 06092. (203) 685-6917.
WordPerfect ST Fixes Coming
Coming soon in Antic will be an in-depth review of WordPerfect, the eagerly anticipated ST version of the number-one bestselling word processor for IBM PCs. WorrdPerfect ST ($395) comes on six disks crammed with advanced features. It boasts a 600-page manual, a 115,000-word dictionary a 10,000-word thesaurus, a disk tutorial and drivers for over 250 printers.
Antic has been testing WordPerfect ST's debut version 4.1 and an update that arrived within a month of the first release. Unfortunately, both of these versions have glitches. Among the problems are onscreen garbage characters after certain operations and a susceptibility to crashes.
WordPerfect Corp. is already aware of the bugs and is rushing an even newer fixed-up version which we'll be reviewing. Meanwhile, WordPerfect Corp. will keep replacing purchasers' early defective versions until all bugs are exterminated.
$395, color or monochrome. WordPerfect Corp., 288 West Center Street, Orem, UT 84057 (801) 225-5000. (800) 321-5906 customer tech support only.