Roketz


Title           Roketz
Game Type       Driving
Publisher       The Farm
Players         1 or 2 (simultaneous, head to head)
Compatibility   AGA only
HD Installable  Yes (installation is required)
Submission      Nathan Wain Profiled Reviewer

Review
BRIEF DESCRIPTION
This game is an interesting mix of genre's. It's a racing game, but the
track walls are lethal, and there is gravity too, making the game somewhat
reminiscent of Thrust, Gravity Wars, and R3. Also you have a couple of
weapons to help you gain advantage over your opponent. (If you are a
better shot, that is.) So basically it's racing, but other factors
combine to make it really violent racing. In fact, with the points
system it employs to determine the winner, it is possible to win merely
through obliterating your opponent. So it doesn't even have to be racing.


SPECIAL HARDWARE/SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS
A joystick, a hard-drive, any AGA Amiga.


COPY PROTECTION
None, but the game is registered in your name. So if it spreads,
the authors will know who it spread from.


MACHINES USED FOR TESTING
A1200, 2Meg Chip, no fast, Kickstart 3.0, 220 Meg Quantum 2.5" HDD,
No trapdoor expansion, standard TV for display.

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)

A4000, 2Meg Chip, 112Meg Fast, Kickstart 3.1, 1.2 Gig Quantum HDD,
Apollo 4040 daughter board (68040 at 40MHz, with SCSI and 96Meg of
local RAM), PicassoIV Graphics Card, VLab video-digitiser, Toshiba
16x CD-Rom, 2 internal floppy-drives, D-Link 56k Modem, Philips 15"
LCD monitor.

Roketz perfomed identically on all the above setups.


FIRST IMPRESSIONS
I first downloaded this as a demo off Aminet. It is a shareware
title, so in the demo version you only get access to two of the
spaceships and two of the racetracks. But just from the demo it
can be seen that this is no amateur game written and uploaded in a
week. All the GFX have a professional raytraced look to them, and
the sound just makes a loud bassy stereo a neccessity for the added
atmosphere.

So within a very short time I got myself registered...


GENERAL OPINION
Damn this game rocks like a big rocky thing in a rocky place. From
the cool icons, to cool intro (those guys are uber cool) to the
atmospheric music and sound, to the stylish graphic skills lavished
on every ship, button, and rocky wall. There is almost nothing
lacking in this game, it is a professional product.

I would happily have bought this game had it been a full retail
product. It is that good. And when you have spent your reasonable
shareware fee on it, what do you get?  A game that installs nicely,
is compressed to not waste huge HDD space, and when run... the
coolest gravity game to ever grace the Amiga leaps out at ya.

There are several different ships to choose from, each with its own
performance characteristics, handling, and weapon capabilities. It
is often fun to try different ship types on occasion because they
perform so differently. Some of them can easily outmatch others in
certain ways. Some are tanks, some are sleek, fragile, racing
machines. So for an even battle it is often best to pick the same
ship for each player.

Once the ship is chosen you can choose any extra's or weapon enhance-
ments you require. The amount you spend will affect the shields
given to you, so spend wisely. Oh, and spend a little time reading
the item descriptions while you are shopping. These guys write some
funny stuff. Then press the go button and get into the arena...

With the fastest ships it can be a real challenge to make it around the
track in one piece. This is certainly a game of joystick dexterity.
Powerups appear periodically around the track, which will either give you
some form of invulnerability, or replenish your shields, weapons or fuel.
If they appear off your main racing path it might be a choice between the
powerup and a record lap. This is one of those games where there are many
things going on to keep you occupied. Not least of which is your opponent.

The computer player is a worthy adversary. In fact, he is very challenging
if nothing is done in the equipment selection phase to try to gain a
shields advantage. The enemy is rather predictable in that they will fly
around the track, but break off to fight if you come into range. The
smallish nature of the track does mean that you are quite likely to get
into a fight if you just sit and wait. Their predictable movements does
make them easy to ambush though.

So often the strategy is to get one outstanding lap, and then to
concentrate on obliterating the opponent. The resulting points are even
better if you stop them from getting a lap time at all. The computer
player will always try to race when you are not nearby, so it is difficult
to play the game as a pure battle in the one player mode. Two players can
play the game however they enjoy it most.

The tracks are beautifully varied. From the traditional oval design (with
some embellished wall structures), to sprawling rocky tracks with teleport
beams and auto-guns. Sometimes there are varied paths around the track,
and often the path isn't 100% obvious due to the other lanes availiable
for general dogfighting and ambushes.

Each track has a landing pad for each player. Sometimes the position of
these does give a bit of an advantage. (A nice equalising factor would
have been to randomly assign them.)  Almost always the landing pad and
powerups are the only way to replenish resources. It can be fun to have a
player on the run, as you know exactly where they have to run to.

In two player mode the screen is split horizontally, with the top and
bottom views centered on player one and two respectively. This does
restrict the view a bit, but once you know the track it isn't a real
issue. The bottom of each player's view consists of a display strip
summarising best and current times, fuel, weapons, etc. The displays
themselves are nicely styled, with an LCD look for all the info.

Often 2 player games come down to some lap attempts, eventually breaking
down into a fight-out to try to avenge a good shot or shunt by the
opposition. (Depending on the professionalism displayed by the players.)
The race to get good powerups can make fights a bit more common.

The weapons themselves tend to be your basic forward facing machine gun,
combined with some secondary weapon: rockets, missiles, flares, etc. Some
are so deadly as to be quite imbalancing. But generally there is nice
variety to the forms of lethality that can be dished out. (Most weapons
are tied to a specific ship though, so it's not possible to have the
deadliest weapon and fastest ship.)

And at the end of each match a score is awarded based on the number
of lives remaining, kills, suicides, and laps. There is also a
grade given to each player based on how consistently they win. Win
a lot and you do well. Lose a few and your grade plummets.


CONCLUSIONS

One awesome gravity game. It will possibly have a limited appeal
due to the players having to be reasonably skilled in gravity game
format and general joystick dexterity. This can make finding worthy
opponents a bit tricky. The computer player can always be tweaked
to provide the desired level of opposition though.

The graphics, sound, and general presentation are virtually flawless.
The only minor quibble is that the shots and missiles all consist of
simple white dots (or bunches of dots.)  Personally this isn't a
problem as they fit in well with the scale of the game. Anyway, the
rest of it looks so gorgeous that you just don't care.

It may be a little tricky to obtain the full version of this game
these days as it was only distributed (branded with the name of the
buyer) through shareware, and the original game authors have since
moved on. It is rumoured that the source code has been passed on
though, so something cool might appear sometime.

The demo is well worth a blast though. The full game is the same,
only better. (The fastest ships and best tracks are only in the full
game.) Get it if you can.












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