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Blutige Reise

Microcosm logo  CD32
Schon vor Monaten sollten sich die Besitzer von Commos CD-Schleuder den Weg durch die Blutbahnen freischießen dürfen - jetzt hat Psygnosis die Herzkammern endlich geöffnet!

Microcosm In ferner Zukunft ist es gelungen, Menschen, Tiere oder auch ganze U-Boote so weit zu verkleinern, dass sie bequem in eine handelsübliche Ader passen, wodurch sich z.B. Krankheitsherde recht gezielt bekämpfen lassen. Diese Story ist nicht neu, weshalb das mehrmütige Movie-Intro zwangsläufig an den entsprechenden Filmklassiker "Die phantastische Reise" bzw. dessen Quasi-Remake "Die Reise ins Ich" erinnert. Nach dem Betrachten dieser optisch ungemein eindrucksvollen Szenen schlüpft man dann in die winzige Haut des nicht ganz freiwillig miniaturisierten Helden und begibt sich auf eine aberwitzige 3D-Tauchfahrt durch den menschlichen Körper mit all seinen Organen.

Aus anatomischen Gründen ist man hier nicht nur mit einem U-Boot unterwegs, sondern wechselt das Vehikel nach dem Andocken an Lunge, Leber, Herz oder Darm jeweils aus. Neben dem serienmäßig vorhandenen (wenig leistungsfähigen) Standardlaser gibt es auch diverse Extrawaffen zum Zerbröseln der nicht gerade seltenen Hindernisse. Das Aufsammeln gestaltet sich jedoch relativ schwierig, denn ehe man sich versieht, hat man dabei schon wieder Bekanntschaft mit der Gefäßwand oder den unzähligen Viren, Bazillen etc. geschlossen. Jede Kollision hat aber einen happigen Energieabzug zur Folge, weshalb die drei Mini-Leben keineswegs ewig vorhalten. Für etwas Erleichterung sorgt die eingebaute Scanner, der allerdings bloß die Gegner in der unmittelbaren Nachbarschaft erfaßt. Zum Glück ist das Game dazu in einzelne Levels unterteilt, die über bereits ergatterte Paßwörter direkt anwählbar sind.

Trotz der Beschränkung des Spielareals auf die menschlichen Innereien sind die optischen und akustischen Reize von Microcosm wahrhaft komisch - nicht umsonst wirbt dieses Game im Fernsehen für das CD32: Die Flug- bzw. Schwimmabschnitte werden immer wieder von phantastisch gemachten Filmsequenzen unterbrochen, und der Soundtrack sucht seinesgleichen. Leider ist die Steuerung ein bißchen schwammig, was bei der oft verlangten Millimeterarbeit unweigerlich des öfteren zu unerwünschten Feind- bzw. Gefäßwandkontakten führt. Und letztlich macht halt auch das Spielprinzip auf Dauer nichts besonders viel her, denn verlangt wird hier im Prinzip nur ständiges Draufhalten mit der Wumme und gelegentlich mal eine blitzschnelle Entscheidung für die richtige Abzweigung bei den (Venen-) Knotenpunkten.

Wie zu erwarten, lebt Microcosm vorwiegend von seiner mörderischen Präsentation - wie in einem solchen Fall ebenso zu erwarten, sinkt die Motivation daher nach einigen blutigen Tauchgängen spürbar ab. Wer gerne ballert und mal einen "Actionflugi" der ganz anderen Art kennenlernen möchte, wird also noch am ehesten Freude an dieser CD haben, der Rest der Menschheit wartet wohl besser ab, bis der spielerische Fortschritt mit dem medizinischen gleichgezogen hat. (mic)

Amiga Joker, March 1994, p.?

MICROCOSM
(PSYGNOSIS)
3D - BALLEREI

66%

"SIMPEL"
Amiga Joker
GRAFIK
ANIMATION
MUSIK
SOUND-FX
HANDHABUNG
DAUERSPASS
86%
83%
86%
81%
62%
57%
FÜR KÖNNER
PREIS DM 79,-
CD32


Microcosm Logo  CD32  CU Amiga Screen Star

After years of hype and speculation, the world's first ever CD32 specific game hits the market, and Tony Dillon is surprised to discover just how good it really is.
Microcosm
I have to admit, I was feeling more than a little sceptical about this one. Psygnosis have always had a reputation for incredible intro sequences and game graphics, but have often found themselves floundering on the actual gameplay. When I heard that the apparently fabulous FM Towns title Microcosm was to be ported to the CD32...well, you can't really blame me for thinking the worst, can you? After playing the FM Towns version, I was even more worried. Nice graphics, shame about the game really.

WHAT A GAME!
The CD32 version is a totally different kettle of fish, though. Nice graphics, sure, as you can see from the numerous screenshots on these pages, but what a game! Microcosm plays as well as it looks, and that's some complement.
If you aren't familiar with the game, it tells the story of the President Elect of the gigantic Cybertech corporation. Well, not so much him, more his insides. A rival company has taken over President Korsby by sending miniaturised robots into his bloodstream with the aim of controlling his brain. It would have worked fine if someone hadn't got wind of it and sent a tiny version of you in after the bad guys. After that, well you can guess what happens next, can't you?
Yup, it's a mighty battle through the various holes and tubes within the body, with you battling against the shrunk-in-the-wash warriors and the body's own defences. There are dozens of the armoured robots whizzing round the body, along with rapid firing blood corpuscles, ceiling mounted, cannon blazing brain and the odd trail blasting tumour. Yes, it does all sound a little disgusting, but then this isn't a game for the squeamish. By squeamish I mean the kind of people who can happily sit through 'Night Of The Living Dead', but turn green during 'Heart Of The Matter' or Jimmy's'.

BODY MATTERS
There are five main levels to the game, each set in different parts of the body. You start life racing through the veins, laid out as a maze with you rocketing through searching for the end of level bad guy. All the time opposing sprites are flying at you at a terrific rate.
After that you've got a chase through the bones, where you have to follow another ship through the entire body.
Other levels take you through heart, brain and various other lumps of flesh. At certain points of each level you leave the part of the body you're in and enter a large waystation base - similar to a space station. Here you can interrogate the on-board computer on the whereabouts of the enemy ships, upgrade your ship and recharge your weapons.
Of course, it's a shoot 'em up, and quote a basic one at that. Playing like Mega Apocalypse with fancy backdrops, it is basically your ship, moving in two dimensions and firing in a third.
The enemy sprites come from in front or behind, and you have to blow them away using one of your five weapons systems: single fire, double fire, triple fire, homing bullets and a smart bomb.
There is a little decision making to be made at points in the game where the path splits two ways, where you steer hard left or hard right to turn down the passageway you want.
One point to make here is that you are not steering the craft down the tunnels; you can't hit the walls and for the most part you don't interact with the backdrop at all. All the backdrop is, is a rolling animation that adds some atmosphere - It's best to think of it as an alternative to a scrolling starfield and you'll get the idea.

THE WAY IT LOOKS
I've avoided them so far, but I now feel it's time to talk about the graphics. There is nothing on this page indicative of how incredible this game is to look at. Still shots just can't do it justice at all. With over 400Mb on the disk, this is one hell of a good looking game, all graphics have been rendered on Silicon Graphics workstations. Where most rendered stuff until now has tended to look metallic, or shiny but with a lot of sharp edges, over the past 18 months the Psygnosis graphics team have polished and chipped away at every corner and facet and ended up with a game that looks disgustingly organic. Veins pulse and throb, with dark red threads running beneath them. The canals of the brain are a spooky and dark place to be, huddling below a ceiling of skin membrane. As for the heart...yeuck!
Even these graphics pale into insignificance when placed alongside the stunning intro and linking sequences. Tobias Richter, step down. This is what Amiga animations should be like. Take the intro sequence (of which the first half is pictured here). Eight minutes long, it plays like a mini-Blade Runner, panning through the city before closing in on the Cybertech building. We go inside and see the briefing that leads to the President being taken over.
There are numerous sequences within the game that keep piling the atmosphere on, such as when the ship leaves a vein and flies into a major organ, or my personal favourite, the death sequence, which shows you inside your ship rocking about as it smashes into the walls a la Star Wars.
The only thing that stops the graphics from being perfect are the main game sprites. They're just not as sharp or realistic as the back- drops, and as such look 'pasted on'. A shame really, as a little more detail would have made the screen look more complete.

THE WAY IT FEELS
The big question of course is how does it play? As well as you would expect a top quality shoot 'em up to play, basically.
It all runs in a frame, and the action is fast and smooth. If you're not a fan of the CD32 joypad you'll find it fairly tough, as it uses most of the buttons - joysticks are out.
The key feature to Microcosm is that it uses the CD capabilities of the machine to the full, and as such stands as the most important and the most impressive CD32 release to date. This is the game that console owners have to have.

CU Amiga, December 1993, pp.52-54
THE ORIGINAL... NO LONGER THE BEST
Microcosm originally appeared on the Japanese FM Towns console two years back, and wowed the Japanese public with its stunning graphics. Compared to the CD32 version, however, it looks a bit sad. Less colours on screen, nowhere near as fast, dull attack waves and only a crosshair on screen instead of your ship, it ends up dull to look and dull to play. Thankfully a lot of the game was overhauled while being converted!

PRE-SCHRUNK
As you have probably realised by now, Psygnosis aren't the first people to use the idea of schrinking someone and putting them inside someone else's body. Here's a brief but informative run down of some of the other games and movies who have tried the same idea.

FANTASTIC VOYAGE
Racquel Welch and Donald Pleasance star in the original schrink movie. A brilliant scientist holds the future of the world is his hands, and only these two, plus some others who we can't quite remember, can save them.
A rolling epic of a blockbuster that features quite some stunning effects, plus some really, really awful ones. The acting's pretty bad too, but then what do you expect?

INNERSPACE
Dennis Quaid and Martin Short get together as a comedy double act in Stephen Spielberg's wonderfully directed (aren't they all?) tale of a scientist who has perfected the miniaturisation process, and is all set to test it out with Dennis Quaid.
Unfortunately, the lab where he is working is broken into, and the syringe with Quaid in it gets stolen and accidentally injected into Martin Short in a shopping mall. Hilarious consequences and antics ensue.

GERM CRAZY
A really awful strategy game from Electronic Zoo, it let you wage war inside a body. Infections were green tanks, and you had to wipe them out with all sorts of silly weapons. Not much fun, and extremely primitive.

THE JOY OF CODING
Stuart Sargaisson is a name that should be familiar to CU AMIGA readers by now, mainly because he's appeared on these pages so many times recently! Stuart is also the man responsible for the bulk of Microcosm, along with Richard Weeks and Pete Marshall, and therefore is the man responsible for the first full CD32 game.
We asked Stuart what the differences were between coding for floppy or coding for new CD platforms.
'As the CD32 is essentially an A1200, you're still constrained by memory, but the beauty of it is that you can pull a lot of data off the CD at any time. If you've finished with a bit of code or a sprite, you can chuck it away and load in some more.'
'It's not all good though. There are downsides to coding on the CD32. For a start you have to keep everything Exec. legal, which slows things down a bit. Most games throw the Amiga operating system out of the window and create their own, but we have to stick with this. Generally people work under that sort of constraint if they are making something Hard Disk Installable, which means it can be easily copied. Obviously when you're working with with CD, you aren't concerned with Piracy, your main concern is losing time within a frame. Did you know there are no hardware registers that point to the CD drive? You have to call it from within the system, which takes up a lot of time. You're reading data at 300K a second, which makes it much faster thatn the Mega CD, but you have to spend a lot of time getting through the bus.'
'It's nice to have the AGA chipset as standard, though!'

BRAVE NEW WORLD
The whole thing has been pieced together by a twenty person team in Psygnosis' new London office. A fantastic archictect's office, the large open plan room is a graphic artist's dream, with Silicon Graphic workstations all over the place. At present there are several other games under development, all using SGIs to produce stunning graphics, and almost all running to FM Towns before being converted to CD32.
The next game to come from this stable is Scavenger, another 'flying through tubes blasting everything' blaster, with even better graphics and a few novel twists. More when we have it.

PSYGNOSIS £29.99
PSYGNOSIS, THE FITCH BUILDING, 4 CRINIAN STREET, LONDON W1. TEL: 071 837 9412
 
RELEASE DATE:
GENRE:
TEAM:
CONTROLS:
NUMBER OF PLAYERS:
 
NOVEMBER
SHOOT 'EM UP
IN HOUSE
JOYPAD
1

 
GRAPHICS
SOUND
LASTABILITY
PLAYABILITY

96%
84%
81%
87%
The game the CD32 was built for.
Stunning stuff.
OVERALL: 86%
THAT INTRO...

We start the cinematic sequence in Space, looking down at the Earth of the future.

Panning down, we see that Blade Runner was right along...

The local newpaper shows the rivalry between Cybertech and Axiom.

The grimy city ruled by the two super corporations...

...lies in the enormous shadow of the Cybertech building.

On top of the building, a guard spots something above her...

Radioing back, she is told that a military chopper is escorting a medicopter to the building.

The military hover at the edge of the building, making sure the coast is clear.

A guard gives the all clear signal, and the medics approach.

The military come in to land, covered at all times by Cybertech's vigilant army.

An army that includes huge walkers along with standard armed guards.

The medicopter prepares to land.

One of Cybertech's chief guards radios to the military that the chopper has landed.

But the guards still remain on the alert.

The medicopter is sucked away into the bowels of the building...

...and the Military beat their owen retreat.