Title Tracker Game Type Action Strategy Company Rainbird / Mindware, 1988 Players 1 Compatibility Amiga 500 (512 kb+) HD Installable No (copy protected) Submission Bernd Gmeineder Review Although Tracker is a relatively unknown game on the Amiga, this Rainbird title is in fact something of a milestone. It was the first product that broke the conventional trend of computer strategy games. Until 1986 all strategic computer games were either board games or war game conversions. But then came Tracker with the following new and unique features: The computer controlled enemies in this game are based on the most advanced artificial intelligence techniques of the eighties and as a second innovation, a huge 3D playfield full of filled vector objects. Now let us get a bit deeper into the philosophy of this masterpiece: Tracker is actually the name of an interactive TV show simulator which has always been the most successful and most popular in the history of the Egron Broadcasting Autonomy. You, as the player, have but one wish; to participate in Tracker and to complete it successfully, since nobody else has ever achieved this. Before the show begins you get asked some questions. After finishing the (complete!) game, your interview will be replayed on a monitor embedded into your gravestone, until the end of the universe. But if you want this to happen, you are going to have to do a really great job: Tracker takes place in a huge maze made up of a trackway complex divided into the following major sectors: The Outer Sectors, consisting of about one hundred nodes, and in the middle of them there is a so called Communication Centre which controls the computer enemies. The second sector is called Centrepoint Sector. It is in the middle of the map, and it must be destroyed at the end of every round by using a neutron bomb. This is very, very difficult. As the player you take control of a fleet consisting of six Skimmers and must fight against several groups of enemies which are located in various areas of the map: First of all there are the Cycloids. They are controlled by the Communication Centres mentioned earlier. Cycloids will tend to work together to head you off and trap you in a position from where they have a good chance of defeating you. These enemies carry a shield, but it can be breached by use of your plasma ball weapon. Defenders are vehicles which try to defend the Communication Centres. When you finally get to grips with these rather nasty opponenets, they will make every effort to keep at least the vital Centrepoint Sector up and running. Besides these, the appropriately named Scouts travel around the entire map. They become a real problem after you have destroyed a Communication Centre since they are equipped with sensors reporting that report their destruction. You have probably already guessed that there is a wealth of action on the screen. Therefore, Tracker has a wonderful display system splitting the screen into different parts: On the lower part there is the Long Range Scanner. It is one of the most important features when playing. Here you can see a relatively big part of the map and it is easy to keep a watchful eye on the Cycloids or other opponents closing on your position. You also have the ability to zoom and scroll it. By pressing the Combat button the Long Range Scanner will be replaced by the so called Combat Mode. This is the revolutionary first person 3D view of the game from which you control your Skimmers. This view is important for destroying your enemies and the Communication Links and Centres. On the upper part of the screen there is a Short Range Scanner. This is similar to the Long Range Scanner but with a more detailed view. Other minor parts on the playing screen show the shield power and speed of your Skimmers. Buttons to quit and pause the game are also available. Tracker is a hard game and destroying the Centrepoint Centre is a very, very difficult task. The enemy AI is very tough and they will do everything they can to stop you. For this reason you must depend on your strategy and planning to be successful. Some people may now suspect that the game becomes frustrating after a while, but this is not the case. If you keep thinking and trying new ideas, you will find the right way. To aid you in this, the Save option is, of course, a great help. While the 3D graphics in Tracker are basic, with no textures and few colours, the control is easy and comfortable particuarly with the mouse. The frame update is not exactly blistering, but it is highly playable and good fun. Sound is limited to a few effects, and no music, but personally, given the option I would switch music off since a lot of concentration is required to succeed in the game. Tracker comes in a nice blue box showing a Skimmer flying towards the great Centrepoint Sector. In the box there is a relatively short user manual which has some pictures and explains the most important aspects of the game. Finally it should be mentioned that science fiction author James Follet has written a 20-page short story (also called Tracker) which is also included.