Title Virus Game Type 3D Action Company Firebird Players 1 Compatibility All Submission Angus Manwaring Profiled Reviewer Review When the Archimedes computer first appeared it was very soon blessed with an extremely impressive demo called Lander. Written by David Braben, the innovative albeit limited gameplay featured a simple spaceship, which remained in the centre of the screen, able to pitch, roll and yaw, above a 3D landscape, which depending on your mouse inputs, held almost rock steady while you hovered, or rocketed past at an alarming rate when you went to maximum burn. It has been stated that the Lander routines were at one time to be used in the followup to Elite, but I think I read somewhere that this isn`t infact the case. The game looks very like Binary Asylum`s excellent Zeewolf games, which were clearly influenced by this game, and also Conqueror, for which Davd Braben allowed his code to be adapted. If you`re not familiar with these games then the action takes place above a very attractive landscape of undulating hills carpetted with a patchwork of fields, and including various trees, buildings and lakes. The demo was soon replaced on the Arc by the full game known as Zarch, and later on appeared as Virus on the Amiga and Atari ST. People had said that the Amiga would not be able to cope with the game and that only the Archimedes offered sufficient power to do the job. Well, it`s possible the Arc version has some refinements not featured in the Amiga version, but I`m here to tell you that on the Amiga this is a great game. In Virus, it`s no longer just a scenic flight followed by landing. You are there to protect the landscape from a deadly virus brought in by aliens! More on them later though. Essentially Virus is a level-based 3D shoot-em-up. You fly around destroying enemy ships while keeping a careful eye on your fuel state. Every time you are hit by enemy fire your fuel decreases. You can replenish though by landing at your base, but this is often a dangerous business when faced with a ruthless enemy who is not about to look the other way while you are filling up your tank. You also have missiles, which when fired will lock on to the nearest viable target. These are best saved for later, when the going gets really tough. I`ve often come across people saying the game is impressive but unplayable, the control method is apparently just too difficult to manage. Rubbish! If I can handle it, anyone can. It`s just a case of learning how the mouse control works. Basically, your mouse represents your ship. When your mouse is centred up, your ship will be on an even keel with it`s thrusters directed downwards, but move the mouse in any direction and the ship will tilt correspondingly. Applying the thrusters at this point will move the ship across the landscape in the corresponding direction. To begin with you tend to over-correct, and this causes some spectacular crashes with the ship tumbling out of control and hurtling to it`s doom. Hilarious for any spectators but unproductive for the player. Soon enough though, you`ll learn to control your craft and find the mouse`s central position instinctively. A slight over-correction is ideal though, as this leaves you perfectly positioned to apply the brakes. After a while you`ll be able to pull off some really flashy manoeuvres, streaking towards your target at treetop height, and firing with deadly effect as you sideslip past him. Okay: The aliens. Their intent is to infect your world with a virus that is distributed by certain craft. These craft should obviously be treated as a priority, although several attack ships swarming around you can be quite a distraction. The Bomber is one such prime target, flying in straight lines over your green and pleasant land and making it brown and horrible by dropping parachutes laden with the deadly spore. By this time you`ll think that you`ve already met the Fighters, but all you`ve met are the fairly easy attack ships. The Fighters provide much more of a challenge. Too much, some might say. If you`re lucky you`ll come across the sea monster. It`s not a threat as such, but it does provide a worthwhile bonus. I should mention the radar system. At the top of the screen is your scanner which shows your entire world, it`s square and uses a wrap-around system. As you fly over the landscape you`ll notice the radar towers that provide the scanner`s picture. The thing is, if you accidentally take out one of these towers the corresponding area on the scanner goes black, and suddenly you know a lot less about what is going on. Virus is an exceptional game. It contains the straightforward blasting appeal of classic games like defender, the innovative approach that you`d expect from half of the team that brought us Elite, and a far greater sensation of flight than just about any conventional flight-sim that I`ve experienced. I have never mastered the game, while I can hold my own on the earlier levels the advanced dogfighting is beyond me. Don`t believe what they tell you though, the control method is a dream, once you get used to it.