John Walker's Electronic House

TB 94

They’re Back 94

Imperium Galactica II
Best Of

The chances are that you are a megalomaniac. Don’t take it personally – that would be plain silly, you can’t possibly believe that you are the only person to have bought an issue – the whole damned lot of you are power-crazy, world-domination wannabes. It doesn’t matter if you adorn your fetlocks with all manner of posy, you are still chomping at the bit to impose upon the masses your most whimsical of whims.

If not, justify how much you enjoyed that go on The Sims. Explain away why you celebrated defeating the enemy in C&C. Find a way to deny fond memories of Little Computer People on the Commodore 64. It seems you understand the point. It is no wonder that in a world upon which we seem to have as much control as a moth does of the moon, that we feel some deep inherent need to impose control. If we cannot stop Mr Jenkins the next door neighbour from playing Salsa music at 7.30 in the morning, then we //can// make sure that our Sim can’t get to the toilet in time. And if we can’t stop the Americans from electing a Texan, then we sure as hell can take over the universe.

There probably isn’t a better way to take over the universe in a single-player way than Imperium Galactica II. This real-time strategy combines some of the highlights from some of the best controlling games in history. Managing taxes, building projects and morale will dredge your Sim City skills out of the attic, developing and controlling a fleet of vehicles and their armed inhabitants allows your C&C abilities to shine through, and managing yourself in the gravity-less void of space will have you rummaging through boxes to find your Homeworld certificates.

Missions and scenarios are linked together with neat cut-scenes, balanced neatly so as to not annoy or ramble, which makes for a pleasant change. But perhaps more importantly, this is a game stuffed with attention to detail. Technology trees seem to stretch endlessly, and the minutiae for every element delights.

All in, this is a pretty fine bit of despotic training for those who find limiting their boundaries of control to just one planet a little short of deserved glory.


Slave Zero

If only budget sections were like budget movies. A full-budget movie has large amounts of money spent on it, is created and crafted by the very best in the business, and tries to surprise and delight fans of the genre. Budget movies tend to be rather formulaic, put together by those incapable of getting a better job, uninspired due to their lacklustre wages… If only, eh?

Slave Zero however makes no attempt at shyness when it comes to boasting about its B-movie roots. It would be pretty hard-pushed to in all honestly, being as it features 100ft robots crashing about a metropolis environment. This is not really an approach that one wanting to be taken seriously should approach.

“No Mr Merchant and Mr Ivory, I don’t think you are getting a real feel for the hidden complexities and underlying metaphor in my script about two galiolithic metallic monsters throwing buildings at one other.”

Involved in the rebellion against an evil dictator, you take on the controls of a 60-foot bio-mechanical robot (the eponymous Mr Zero) and wage war with the oppressive state.

Memories of the classic Rampage cannot be subdued when playing Slave Zero. While the actual similarities are all-but none, it is hard to suppress the familiarity of grabbing chunks of building and stamping on police cars. That fond whimsy aside, rather obviously the game in hand is slightly more fleshed out than the eighties arcade favourite, though it //is// still an arcade. The rather wibbly excuse for a plot doesn’t really disguise that this a big arcade stomp-fest, revelling in its speed and high-action content.

If you are after anything with more depth than a paddling pool, you are testing your toes in the wrong water, but if it’s fast-paced bangs your after, come in and splash around.



How much, exactly, do you want from an RPG? Do you want huge rambling stories, endless volumes of quests, reams of dialogue, and characters more customisable than your own personality? Or do you want to just plod your way through a linear script, kicking seventeen pints of crap out of everyone you meet?

In light of the spirit of an RPG, the latter just seems such a waste of perfectly good beardy time consumption. When RPGing, surely the expectation is of deeply immersive story, explored through widely adaptable characters. This is the staple diet of the role playing friend. Or, and but, and or again, can this get too much? Is there only so much pointy-facial-haired action one can manage before just wanting to hack and slash through a nice, basic tale?

Who knows. But by huge coincidence, Revenant just happens to be the sort of RPG that cares more about its combat system than its range of shades of leather. On offer here is no choice of who to be, a preset personality, no real choice in dialogue, and a plot that only points in one direction. But instead a kick-ass combat system and some darned lovely graphics.

Is that enough? Well, at a tenner, you can decide for yourself. Fighting is much more active than that on offer in others of the genre. Combinations of keys control battles in a manner familiar to fans of the console gaming. The system of a “fatigue bar” means that fighting has to be carefully managed, stopping you from just entering a dull fisticuffs, and instead using much more imaginative methods to prove your superiority.

It’s just that it’s so thin when put aside the meaty impressiveness of yor Baldur’s Gates, and your Planescape Torments.


Mayday: Conflict Earth
Best Of

Congratulations, you have been judged capable of creating your own review. Just follow these simple instructions, and journalistic success will be yours.

1) Go to your bedroom. In your bedroom you will find some drawers.
2) One of the draws, probably the top one, will contain underpants/knickers, socks, one glove, and a floppy beach hat you never wear. Open this drawer.
3) Remove all the pants from the draw that you can find. Include the ones that you never wear because of the huge embarrassing hole, but yet haven’t thrown away. These are especially helpful.
4) Find a clear area of floor.
5) Arrange the underwear you are holding into a hastily arranged lump, or “pile”.
6) Stand back and admire your first foray into the world of media criticism.

Mayday is, without any question, a huge pile of pants. It’s hard to imagine a more cynical Command & Conquer cash-in. Imagine the meeting at JoWood Productions:

“The little people seem to like this funny little C&C thing. Why don’t we have one of those. I’m sure they’re very easy.”

Like an embarrassing parent thinking that the cheap supermarket equivalent of the latest toy-craze sweeping the nation is “just as good”, Mayday is a nastily lazy RTS that does nothing of any value. Graphics are horrid, units are tedious and annoying, and the resource system actually physically hurts to participate in.

You can actually create a better illustration for the review. Carry out the instructions as above, but as a preliminary step, don’t wash them first.


Championship Manager 3

Confession time: I don’t like football. Climb back up off the floor, dust yourself down, and deal. Actually, while I’m disturbing you, //most// people don’t like football. In fact, the people who could care less about the sport are in the massive minority. Not that you’d know this from the media frothing that seems to accompany every time someone’s boot kicks leather.

Who actually cares which players plays for which teams? Very few people, that’s who. Since it seems you football following sheep will support a team despite the fact that it may contain none of the same members, management, sponsors, or tea ladies as it did less than a year ago, it seems astonishing that who gets who is of any relevance at all. That anyone should take the time to actively follow these capitalist shenanigans is beyond me.

That anyone should find the idea of //taking part in it// recreationally viable causes me to raises my arms into the air and wonder when exactly it was that everything went so strangely wrong. But like it people do, and if that really is what pleases you, then there really isn’t any better way to do it than Eidos’ long running Championship Manager series.

CM3 allows you to buy and sell pretend people for a pretend team that you can’t actually even play football with better than any other in its genre. There is no better way to be a soccer accountant in your //spare time// than this. So hurry, buy it now while the price is low.

The stumbling point is that this baby is now two years out of date, and there’s a fair bet that one or two of the teams may look slightly different now than they will appear in the game. But who on earth could care…


And The Rest

Time for a bit of an update on previous over-excitement. Six months ago your friendly They’re Back column told you of three releases that Infogrames would be sending into your shop’s budget shelves by express cannon. Only, these cannons haven’t been lit yet. Hopefully by the time you read this, Total Air War, Wetrix, and (and yes, I know, but let’s pretend it isn’t happening again) Unreal will be on sale at a lovely £5 in a shop near you. In any case, it’s been a while, so here is a reprisal of what was said way back when:

Total Air War (89%) is probably one of the best shooty-bang-eneeeooooooowwwwwww games you can buy. It combines all the strengths of a great flight sim with some fantastic air combat, and complex and widespread missions. Options pile on top of options, completed missions open up paths of new, uncompleted ones, and the computer takes care of making all the plane noises, saving unnecessary wear and tear of your precious vocal chords. A bit good then.

Unreal is Unreal. It is worth 69% this time round, since it is so long and boring toward the end, and since you can pick up the vastly superior Unreal Tournament for a very similar price. This is Unreal’s 76th appearance in They’re Back, and has been the Bonus Game twice.

Wetrix (85%) gave me the opportunity to make a joke that someone else found funny. So I’ll make it again. Ready? If you took Tetris, lay it flat on its back, and poured water all over it, you’d have a broken Gameboy. Thankyouverymuch. No, it wasn’t worth it.

Go away now.