Exodus 3010


Title           Exodus 3010
Game Type       Action Strategy
Publisher       DMI/Demonware
Players         1
Compatibility   OCS, ECS and AGA (no enhancements for better chipsets.)
Disks           2
HD Installable  No
Submission      Nathan Wain Profiled Reviewer

Review

BRIEF DESCRIPTION
A game with two main parts to it: The strategy elements in the
mothership, where you get to interact with any intelligent life in a
multiple choice fashion, use the ships resources, fighter-craft, and
(frozen) crew-members as necessary, and the more arcade oriented
side, where your crew have to venture out in the fighter-craft to recover
potentially useful materials, or just plain fight.

SPECIAL HARDWARE/SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS
A mouse is necessary.  A joystick may be used for space-flight.
Extra floppy-drive's are not detected or used!  (This really bugs me.)

COPY PROTECTION
None.

MACHINES USED FOR TESTING
A500, 0.5Meg Chip, 0.5Meg Fast, Kickstart 1.2, external Floppy drive,
Thompson RGB monitor.

A1200, 2Meg Chip, 32Meg Fast, Kickstart 3.0, 340 Meg Seagate 2.5" HDD,
GVP Cobra accellerator-board (68030 and 68882 at 50MHz, without SCSI),
additional floppy-drive, Supra 14.4k Modem, 1942 MultiSync monitor.

A4000, 2Meg Chip, 16Meg Fast, Kickstart 3.1, 1.2 Gig Quantum HDD,
Toshiba 16x CD-Rom, additional floppy-drive, Supra 14.4k Modem, 1942
Multisync monitor.  (Standard 25MHz 68030 CPU)

Exodus performed identically on all three machines, I think.  I have
this nagging suspicion that the A500 required additional disk-swaps when
going from the mother-ship to space-flight, but I can't remember. And the
A500 is too far away for me to find out just yet.  (If I find out, I'll
update this review accordingly.)

DOCUMENTATION
Exodus comes with one booklet, (and a pretty poster.) :)  The booklet,
while explaining the basics of what you have to do, does very little to
tell you about the specifics of how to operate anything in the game's
environment.

How to actually control the fighter craft is not mentioned at all.  Not
even the keys required!  Trying keys at random can become frustrating
when you discover that one of them operates the self-destruct.  (A
simple one-key, without a "do-you-really-want-to-self-destruct?", self
destruct no less.) :(

OPINION
There's a little text-with-graphic-interludes kind of intro when the
game first boots:  Documenting the impending destruction of the Earth.
The preparation and launch of this ark-like ship.  (Completely failing
to make any mention of *why* the earth is destroyed.)  The ship's
automated journey to the new planet.  And the alien contact that
triggers the required human intervention, and the beginning of the
game.

This intro is where you are given the first hint of some rather bad
English translations littered throughout the game. They are never so bad
as to obscure the intended meaning. I guess some people will feel it
detracts from the atmosphere of the game.  To me they're just amusing.
Also, the first alien-encounter is a rather (intentionally) amusingly-
stupid creature, so I found the bad translations seemed to fit, in a
strange kind of way. :)

The game looks and sounds quite good.  None of that ECS lack-of-colours
look you sometimes find.  The music is written by Digital-Illusions, so
enhances the game beautifully, as all their stuff does. But what to
actually do with the myriad of control-panels at your disposal is,
initially, a bit of a challenge to work out. The sparseness of the
instructions do little to help this.

Fortunately this part of the game is event based, rather than time
based.  That is, the next challenge in the game does not appear until
you have solved the current one.  And the current one is kind enough to
hang around until you work out what to do with it.

The control panels are logically laid out, and when you try something
stupid, the computer usually gives a helpful response - advising you
what you should've done first.  For those with a little perseverence,
the things that can be done here are more an exercise in discovery than
frustration.  (To my Amiga owning friend, who sold this game to me, it
was the latter.) :)

The creatures and objects you encounter, however, could easily be a
source of frustration if you can't work out what to do about them.
This is because the story develops in a strictly linear fashion.  And
if you can't work out what to do about one of them, well, you're not
going to get anywhere.  ...Which is exactly what happened to me.

Space-flight, being so completely undocumented, is a bit of a
frustrating thing to learn.  The first encounter requiring you to
venture from the safety of the mother-ship to try to stumble accross
the correct method for recovering some mineral-rich asteroids.
Fortunately asteroids tend not to attack in an unprovoked manner,
leaving you to hunt through the controls.  (With a pause mid way
when the auto-destruct key is 'found', requiring a quick journey to
the game over sequence amid a couple of disk-swaps.)

The game is intelligent enough to realise when the player is in a hopeless
situation - defined as "not able to produce the blue giant fighter." At
this point it decides to destroy the mother-ship (and the frozen remnants
of the human race) in the kind of unerring logic that only a computer can
come up with.  (I only hope it doesn't feel so strongly about running out
of lemon-soaked paper napkins or suchlike.) :)  Well, the player is saved
from the tedium of those "I can't do anything now" situations.

After being hopelessly out gunned by a few trigger happy aliens, (who
I'm sure I could despatch with extreme prejudice if someone hadn't left
the flight-manual back on Earth); I begin to stop caring that the human
race is going to be a victim of the mother-ship and it's over-zealous
self-destruct.  Well, occasionally I come back to it to see if I can do
something about it, but the lack of progress and a keyboard reference
just makes me not care again.

CONCLUSIONS
Nice music, shame about the game.  Well, no, I'd like to know if there
really is an interesting game hiding amongst the flashy control panels
I haven't got to try yet.  (There's the potential for over ten fighter-
craft active at one time, but I've only aquired resources to produce
three of the lowest-class fighter thus far.)  The unforgiving and
undocumented combat will probably stop me from discovering any more to
this game though.

The way the game refuses to utilise the second floppy drive is another
serious irritation.  Two disk-swaps are required between any two games,
and I have little toleration for floppy-disk games at all, let alone
badly implemented ones. (Hard-drive use does that to ya.)

But the really frustrating thing is that this is a strikingly-original
game. With a few tweaks, some better translation (a quick gloss-over
from someone with competent English would suffice), some documentation
- and a keyboard-reference for god's sake! - this game could have been
really something.

For now, it is an interesting one for those with some perseverence.
But an abrupt halt in progress in the game can make its lastability
quite low.

A shame. I'd like to see this game implemented well, as it is, you can't
really tell if there's a great game in there or not because of the lack of
decent documentation.







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