RoboSport for Windows. (computer game) (Software Review) (Evaluation)
by Alfred C. Giovetti
Ever since Muse Software released Robot War for the Apple II computer ten years ago, computer gamers have had a love affair with computer robots, competing against each other in nationwide tournaments. RoboSport by Maxis, the creators of SimCity, SimEarth, SimLife, and SimAnt, is the newest entry in this love affair with computer robots. The technology has changed enough that RoboSport has a chance of clanking its way to the forefront and becoming the new robot tournament software.
RoboSport is a strategy game that provides for the robot-programming commands to be made in advance of the battle, which proceeds in a simultaneous combat mode. RoboSport pits as many as four teams, composed of up to eight robots each, against one another. Robots can be controlled by computer or human. The computer-controlled robots can be set to any of four levels of artificial intelligence, from stupid to ferocious. The human-controlled robots are programmed or edited; then you can watch an animated "movie" of how the conflict turned out using the game's VCR feature. Cycles of editing and viewing results can continue until the time set for the game runs out or one team is declared the winner. You win by completing the game goal or incapacitating all enemy robots.
RoboSport provides for up to five types of games, or "sports," with different goals, such as survival, capture the flag, hostage rescues, treasure hunt, and even a baseball variant, which requires the robots to touch all four bases in the corners of the battlefield in order to win. RoboSport has three basic battle sets: the suburbs, rubble, and computer. It can be played on seven types of terrain, with four levels of robot intelligence, five types of robots, eight types of weapon systems, five sports, five beginning formations, four game lengths, up to four teams, and up to eight robots per team, giving the game an impressive variety of conditions to interest the most discerning robot warrior.
The eight increasingly destructive and longer-ranged RoboSport weapons systems include rifle, burst, auto, grenade, missile, zap (a high-energy, low-frequency burst), time bomb, and kamikaze. The five types of robots have different armor protection and weapons systems. The stealth robot is unique in that it cannot be seen unless moving or scanned from an adjacent square. Hitting a robot when firing is determined by the length of the scan and the speed of the target. Damage is calculated from the range, angle of fire, and armor protection of the target; it's subtracted from the total remaining damage points of the robot.
The mouse-controlled window interface makes use of Windows 3.1 sound support; no DOS version of the game is planned. The Super VGA graphics support gives 800 x 600 resolution and a 256-color palette. The documentation indicates that you can experience a performance decrease if you have a number of programs running when in 386-enhanced mode. RoboSport can be played with up to four human players on the same computer, on two computers over a null modem or telephone modem, and on up to four machines on a network. Modem play from Macintosh to IBM is supported, as well.
RoboSport is not a realtime arcade game, nor is it your traditional war game. RoboSport may take a long time or a short time to play. Purchase with caution, though: Many will enjoy the process of programming computers for viewing the outcome, while others ma find it a tedious process.
IBM PC or compatible (12 MHz or faster); 2MB RAM; Hercules, EGA, MCGA, VGA, or 256-color SVGA; hard disk with 3MB free; Microsoft or compatible mouse; Windows 3.0 or higher--$59.95
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