TIE Fighter takes off. (Game Insider)(soon-to-be-released computer games) (Column)
by Shay Addams
X-Wing, perhaps the best space combat game of all time, took off from the shelves like a runaway rocket and flew with enough momentum to launch several momentum to launch several successful Tour of Duty disks with new missions and ships to fly as a pilot in the Rebel Alliance. Now TIE Fighter, a stand-alone sequel to X-Wing, is scheduled to take off this month. Avid space combat fans are likely to find designers Dough Holland and Ed Kilham have scored again. Like Rebel Assault, which was released on CD-ROM last November, TIE Fighter is staged in the Star Wars universe. But Rebel Assault is more of an action game than a simulation, so you can't really call it an X-Wing sequel. LucasArts lets you play the bad guy in TIE Fighter, a rare occurrence in computer gaming. You'll be flying for the Dark Side of the Force, taking on the role of a young recruit in the Imperial Forces.
There are three Tours of Duty in the game, and your commander in one is the evil Darth Vader himself. A half-dozen Imperial ship types are depicted with even better polygon graphics than those seen in X-Wing. Five of them appear as enemy craft in X-Wing, and gamers who have fought the TIE Fighter, Interceptors, and Gun-boats in that game are probably so excited by this challenge that they're already on the way to the software store instead of reading this column. A new, never-before-seen TIE Starfighter may be the ultimate ride for those who dare fight for the Dark Side.
Interplay reaches for stars. Interplay's Star Reach looks at space combat from a different angle. The game is similar to MicroProse's Masters of Orion in the sense that you conquer planets and develop resources to take over the stars, but Star Reach offers a two-player option in which opponents fight action-style space battles in realtime. The game unfolds in a split-screen display; a single-player mode lets you play against the computer. Star Reach combines elements of Risk, Stratego, and Asteroids. and the game harnesses the power of 32-bit programming to deliver fast animation, 3-D ray-traced spaceships, digitized speech, and four-channel sound effects.
Waves of Tsunami games. Ringworld 2 is yet another science-fiction title headed for the stores this month, and Tsunami promises adventures a lot more game this time. The company says that the first Ringworld, based on Larry Niven's series of science-fiction novels, "should have been postured as introductory story-telling, not hard-core adventure." Ringworld 2 will be more puzzle oriented and will offer the player a choice of three characters to play. Not only will it be harder, but it will also offer more replay value. In other Tsunami news, Jim Walls won't be doing the next Blue Force. Michael Levine, author of the novels Deep Cover and The Big White Lie, is designing Blue Force II. Walls, a retired California Highway Patrol officer who designed Sierra's first three Police Quests, is reportedly branching out to diferent genres within the adventure game kingdom and is also working on an educational program.
Dynamix diversifies. Dynamix is moving in new directions this year. The company plans to stick with the kind of simulations and sports themes it's done so well, while adding new kinds of games such as Explorer, a strategy game that might be described as Civilization in space. Explorer was designed by Joe Ybarra, who produced Star Flight at Electronic Arts and did The Shadow of Yserbius for Sierra. Along with Battledrome, an action-oriented robot game, Explorer is scheduled to ship in March. (Sierra, the parent company of Dynamix, also has a cience-fiction game planned for March. Its Outpost isn't a typical space game; it's a realistic exploration game based on NASA technology and research.) But the biggest surprise from Dynamix--and the only thing that's made me want to even look at a 3DO machine so far--is its March-slated release to Red Baron for 3DO. This classic flight simulator has been updated with spectacular 24-bit 3DO graphics. In the past few months Dynamix has also released Stellar 7 and The Incredible Machine for 3DO.
Later LucasArts. The Dig, an adventure from Brian Moriarty and Steven Spielberg, has been delayed until later this year. It's now expected sometime this summer, and it will ship initially on CD-ROM. Two games on the way from Sir-Tech have also been pushed back until around April. Both Jagged Alliance and Star Trail, the second in the Realms of Arkania series imported from Europe, are scheduled for CD-ROM as well as floppy release. Stonekeep, Interplay's long-awaited RPG, was rescheduled for the middle in the year.