Megatraveller 1 (Second Review)


Title		Megatraveller 1 (Second Review)
Game Type	RPG
Players		1
Compatibility	All
HD Installable	Yes (by hand)
Submission	John Burns (john@jgb.abelgratis.co.uk) Profiled Reviewer

Review
Firstly, as mentioned in the first review the HD Install scripts are a bit
flaky and can cause problems if used.  However, that said, it is easy
enough to install by hand, you will have to make some assigns whichever
method you choose.

This game shows and is quite proud of it's heritage as a dice based RPG.
Of course this is not necessarily a bad thing. Fans of the original game
would no doubt have enjoyed the fact that the computer could take the
number crunching tedium out of the way whilst they concentrated on playing
the actual game.

Anyway, you start by generating your group of adventurers (4) and once
you're ready start the game proper. You are then treated to a brief history
of the Spinward Marches, (the area of space where the action takes place),
and given your raison d'etre, to expose the games sub title The Zhodani
Conspiracy.

Immediately you are thrust into a fight which unless you've generated some
pretty hard characters means your party gets wasted, hmmmm. I always found
the best option was to run away, you can get these assassins later once
you've tooled up with better weapons. So what do you do next? Well this
is pretty much up to you but as you move around you will encounter people,
Non Player Characters (NPCs), who will give you tasks to complete in return
for which you get paid and can either buy better weapons/equipment for
both your party or your spaceship.  Oh, I forgot to mention that when you
kill people you can pick up any belongings which they drop. So it's
pretty standard fare for this type of game.

Ah, I hear you say, but how does it play.  Well, good and bad would have
to be my honest answer. The user interface is adequate whilst having some
annoying features. Graphics are, once again, adequate - this ain't no tomb
raider. Your normal view is 3/4 screen (height) being taken up by the play
area with the other top 1/4 being used to access each of your characters.
The main play area is a viewed from above affair which allows you to move
your party around. When you go into combat nothing much different happens
except that you can select which characters fight and which run and hide,
(if necessary).  The only other screen (apart from inventory/stats) which
you will encouter is the space flight sections, or tedium central.

Once you decide to do some trading with another planet, (essential to get
more cash) you are presented with a view which represents the system to
which you have 'jumped'. The screen is quartered with the central pivot
being the system's sun and the planets are dispersed around these quarters.
You control your ship's sprite in a mode similar to Frontier in that
forward motion can only be counteracted by an opposite force. So if you
fire your engines in a north facing direction you will continue to move
northwards until you fire your engines in the opposite direction (turn
your ship obviously). If you are lucky you will make it to your
destination, if you run out of fuel manoeuvering you will be unable to
continue and either have to reload a save game or restart. This section
is without doubt one of the worst facets of the game design and thankfully
it was dropped in the sequel. It performs no real purpose and only serves
to annoy.

So what about the Conspiracy?  Well, as stated earlier you wander around
collecting items such as keys, weapons and equipment which you can use,
give, sell etc. to further your quest. NPCs will sometimes ask you to
perform a task (usually a fetch and carry type job) or give you
information which may or may not be required. Here again the game shows
it's origins as you will do best to write down not only the info you
receive but also the location and names of any people you have to contact
or interact with. If you forget you're scuppered as they won't tell you
again. When you complete the game you are given a code which you can use
in Megatraveller 2 to enable you to use the same party.

So what's my overall opinion? Mixed really, it's a large game which takes
some time to complete due in no small part to a lot of tedious flying
between systems/trading in order to buy things you need. I can think of
lots of improvements to the control system but this is probably a fault
which can be levelled at most games - and a lot of improvement was made in
the sequel. Graphics are no more than adequate and if I recall correctly
were probably pretty basic for the time, not to mention how they look now.
I wouldn't go as far as the other reviewer in saying it is rubbish as
there is a lot of depth to the game but you do have to persevere with it
to access this depth.

Not a game I would really recommend except to a die hard RPG fan who had
nothing else to play - The faults probably outweighing the good points.


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