Nobody in today's computer press would ever advocate
breaking into a mainframe system to fiddle around inside.
Cases of such things happening have made front-page
news before now. So it was all the more exciting when
Activision announced that they would be creating
a game based on exactly this situation. 'It'll be just
like the real thing,' they said. The final creation
is definitely worth the wait for anyone who has ever
been curious about what could happen.
game loads turbo-fashion, which is no bad thing nowadays,
and you're not going to be kept waiting forever to see
what goes on in this twilight world. When the load ends,
you are presented with a blue screen and the phrase,
'Logon.' Obviously they decided to throw you
right in at the deep end! All you can do is attempt
to guess the password that lets you into the game. The
only help you may get is a prompt which 'reminds' you
that the password has been changed and it is the location
of the current test site -- wherever and whatever that
may be. If, after a few attempts, you fail to succeed
in this rather difficult task, as you most probably
will, the system decides you shouldn't really be around
and begins the termination sequence.
you get to this point, don't despair and turn your machine
off -- it's only the beginning. What follows is a simulated
system crash and a 'security malfunction' which, as
you may have guessed, lets you in one stage further.
this point in the game you are still totally ignorant
of what is supposed to be going on; a feature more typical
of classic Infocom adventures than Activision
games. The computer then draws a schematic of something
called a Subterranean Remote Unit (or SRU for short).
It begins doing a systems check on this particular unit
and asks you to designate certain areas to be examined.
You have to continue working through this section until
you understand what each device is. This should not
take more than a few minutes, as there are only five
things you need to identify. Once the vehicle is confirmed
as being operative, you are taken to the next stage
of the game.
world map, overprinted with a grid network appears at
the bottom part of the screen and an information window
fills the top half. You are asked your name. There is
no trick here and you may reply with any name you like.
The computer then asks you to set up whichever time
zone you are in. The world map has night and day areas
defined in it and you may alter these with the joystick
so that the display matches your time zone (a clever
feature which we will come back to). Finally you are
informed that your SRU is situated in the South Atlantic
and the display changes again.
map now shows your present position on the grid and
highlights some major cities across the world. However
the top part of the screen is split into three sections.
On the left are a series of keyed input options which
are highlighted when used. In the middle is the actual
view from your SRU and on the right is a compass (to
allow you to verify your present heading) and a small
message window. This is where the game really gets going.
Almost straight away the message sign starts to flash,
and on accessing the message you uncover the purpose
of your mission.
computer you have inadvertently broken into, belongs
to a company called Magma Ltd. They have some kind of
secret project being undertaken and you have arrived
right when things are hotting up. Someone has stolen
one of their secret documents and it is now in segments
all over the world. Your mission (now you're here) is
to uncover the pieces from the various cities and return
them to base. Here lies the first of many problems.
Various international spies are in possession of these
pieces, and they are not ready to just give them away.
They each want something that another spy already has
-- but you have no way of telling what. You might supply
an agent with an item which allows you to take the segment
from him but later on you may realise that the item
was necessary for a different spy, and by then it's
loo late! To cap it all, there's a time limit on the
whole affair so you cannot spend forever on all the
think, however, that your problems should end there,
would not be too unreasonable -- but they don't. The
tunnel network in the grid is far from perfect and there
are rarely direct routes to anywhere. The catch is,
it looks as if there are routes everywhere. It
can take forever just to find out how to get from A
you get to a city you can leave the underground system
and reach the surface. If it is nighttime, you won't
be able to see anything on your viewing screen unless
you activate your infrared sensors. You can then examine
a panoramic view of whichever city you are in.
this point you may attempt to call the local agent in
order to parley with him. Each agent speaks in his natural
language (don't worry, you get what they're talking
about from the context). As was mentioned earlier, these
agents are only bothered with what they can get from
you and for the first few times, you may get their piece
of document, but you might unintentionally put yourself
in a bad position at the same time.
you go into the tunnel system to finish your quest.
During your travels, you eventually get a message which
lets you know that Magma Ltd are aware of the security
breach you have caused. From this point on, the company
send out satellites to find you. Every time they pass
close by, they carry out a security check on you. Each
one is harder than the last and unless you made notes
early on in the game, you're going to be in trouble.
If you fail to answer the security check questions,
you are thrown out of the system. Eventually, security
asks you where the test site is. This is the same as
the log on code and is therefore as far as many people
can get for the first few games. However, if you are
successful enough before this point, you may find out
that cryptic piece of information. Once it's in your
possession, you can log on for future games without
going through all the preliminary features.
when you have the document intact (you see it building
up each time you obtain part of it), it must be taken
to a particular agent if you are to succeed. That last
part is harder than it sounds . . .