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Infocom, C64 19.99/Amiga 24.99

Battletech In the 3lst century five states are continually fighting for supremacy. As 18-year-old Jason Youngblood, you're still at school but instead of learning quadratic equation you're being trained how to be a Mech warrior, defending the Lyran Commonwealth. Mechs are massive military robots, armed to the teeth with lasers and machine guns, and piloted by humans.

Jason is currently based in The Citadel and as well as receiving various types of training he can stroll around the town (shown from overhead) and buy armour and weaponry from the shops. Mech training missions are completely free of charge but combat and mechanical classes cost hard cash. His only income, however, is a small allowance so it's necessary to invest this in one of three companies (of varying risk) to make enough money for lessons to improve his basic skills.

The first few training missions involve getting used to controlling a Mech - there are three types with different abilities but all are controlled in the same way. Either cursor keys or mouse be used to control general movement, but once an enemy is spotted control changes to a menu-driven combat mode. Commands include WALK, RUN, JUMP and KICK (for booting a nearby enemy). Each of your Mech's weapons may be targeted on .any enemy in range. When the command BEGIN FIGHT is given, the Mech moves where you told it to go and fires at the targeted enemies.
If Jason's training is successful, he can leave The Citadel and wander around the countryside between cities, killing enemies and recruiting friends to join him. In combat, these are controlled in exactly he same way as Jason.

The simple overhead graphics are ill-defined and badly animated on both 64 and Amiga. Jason is a tiny blob which jitters around the jerkily scrolling play area. Sadly, gameplay is also extremely dull. Jason must wait between missions, just ambling aimlessly around the city. This is made worse on the 64 by frequent disk-accessing (every time you enter or leave a building).
Interaction with other characters is virtually non-existent - they usually don't even want to talk to you. If he's got some cash at least he can buy a few weapons, but whether his investments do well is merely a matter of luck.

Hours of play need to be put in to get anywhere in Battletech, but the experience is so uneventful, only a dedicated reviewer or RPG fan (like me!) could be bothered to persevere. The only pleasure lies in building up Jason's skills and later recruiting friends. Instead of being explosive (as claimed in the packaging) combat is dull, merely consisting of two or more Mechs firing laser after laser at each other. The shots don't even appear on the main screen. Instead, a small window displays messages and sometimes shows an animated Mech firing a laser. This is both confusing and distinctly unexciting.

Battletech is based on the RPG of the same name. If you're a dedicated fan of this you'll probably get some enjoyment out of the computer version, but I would prefer to play the real RPG with a few friends instead of watching a few splodgy sprites fire 'messages' at each other!

Zzap! Issue 51, July 1989, p.50


64
ATMOSPHERE
INTERACTION
LASTABILITY
OVERALL
45%
30%
50%
42%

 

amiga
ATMOSPHERE
INTERACTION
LASTABILITY
OVERALL
48%
30%
58%
45%