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Midwinter 2 - Flames of freedom logo

In the dim, distant future things are not good for the ex-inhabitants of Midwinter isle. Just as they thought their trubs were over the Saharan Empire comes along and grabs them by the archipelagos.

T Midwinter 2 - Flames of freedom he snow and ice have melted, the sun is out and the corrupt Saharan Empire is about to invade your home island. Not only that but your ice cream’s dripping onto your shorts and you have got sunburn.

Flames of Freedom takes place many years after John Stark and his team saved the island of Midwinter from, er, some other evil people. Midwinter island itself has sunk beneath the flood caused by the thaw, and its inhabitants now live on the island of Verde, which has been renamed Agora. Got it so far?

The thing is, there are 41 other islands to the east of Agora which are controlled by the aforementioned Saharan Empire, who also control the whole of Africa. This empire has now set its sights on Agora: in approximately six month’s time, an armada will set sail from Africa and head towards Agora, via the intervening islands, to raid it.

Understandably though, Agora’s inhabitants are not too pleased about this, so they decide to liberate the slave islands in the hope that their enlightened citizens will repel the Saharans. Well they decide to liberate the islands, but it is you who actually has to do it.

There are two ways to play Flames of Freedom, depending on how involved you want to get. If you want a short game you can play Raid and tackle a single island. In this case, once you win, the game is over and you can go on to try any of the other islands. The only snag is you cannot save halfway through, so the island must be completed in one go.

The longer game is the Campaign. This gives you approximately six month’s game time to liberate as many islands as possible before the Armada sets sail. Your choice of islands is very important; when the Armada is travelling to Agora, it will try to avoid any liberated island wherever possible, as passing over such an island will seriously damage its military strength. But the longer it takes to reach Agora the weaker it becomes, so if you can force it to take a roundabout route you can significantly reduce its strength. Strength is important when you consider that eventually you will have to single-handedly take on over 60 vehicles and win.

In either game your first step is to choose the island you next want to liberate. They each have a skull rating from one to five, five skulls indicating the hardest islands and one the easiest. If you want to see what effect liberating the island will have on the route the Armada takes, an option on the Training screen will show you just that. This simulated route is totally realistic, so liberating those island in the real game will result in the Armada taking exactly the same route. Naturally, the key islands, one which must be taken to slow the Armada, have a skull rating of five.

Midwinter 2 - Flames of freedom Once you have chosen an island, you are informed of its history, your objectives and the reasons behind them. These objectives fall into one of four categories: to destroy a building or squadron; to enlist an inhabitant of the islands; to assassinate a Saharan stationed on the island; or to seize Saharan documents. You may be given as many as seven of these objectives to fulfil on a single island, depending on its skull rating.

Next you are given all the information you need to get started. This includes the name of a person who you can initially contact on the island and his/her location, the weapon and vehicle (if any) you start with and any intelligence that may have been gathered so far on the island, such as the position of any enemy squadrons.

The game starts proper with your arrival at the island. Roughly half of your time is spent in a 3D landscape, with the other half spent making decisions and being given information in a series of static screens. The 3D view is similar to that of Midwinter. Everything on the island – vehicles, buildings, missiles and people – is represented by a 3D object, and it is here that all your fire-fights with the enemy take place. When something important happens – you talk to someone, for instance, or you destroy an enemy unit – you leave the landscape and are shown an appropriate graphic. On these screens, actions and decisions are made by clicking on icons.

When you meet someone, they may offer you various forms of help (Of course, you may have to persuade them first by threatening, cajoling and so on, or even carrying out certain jobs for them). This help may be to supply you with another weapon or vehicle, to give you the location of another contact, to offer to sabotage the building, to patch you up with First Aid, to shelter you from the enemy or to give you other important knowledge.
People are the key to achieving your objectives; only through them will you be able to find your targets. Sometimes you need to contact ten or more people, each one giving you the location of the next, before you find the person or building you are looking for.

Midwinter 2 - Flames of freedom With luck, you eventually succeed in liberating the island. You are then showered with gifts by the grateful islanders and given an extremely handy secret weapon for use on subsequent missions. Then it is onto the next island – at least, until the armada sets sail.

Help! I’m being impressed!
Flames of Freedom is one huge game; the amount of information you have to digest before you can play is daunting. Once you are familiar with its foibles, though, you discover a game packed with detail. The sheer size of the playing area and the amount of things to do means you will be kept busy for a long time. Strangely, though, the 3D graphics do not seem to have progressed very far from those of Midwinter. Most of the vehicles look the part and the fractal waves on the sea are impressive, but there is a lack of detail in the landscape which mars the impression of reality. The real bugbear is that everything is displayed so slowly; when one or more objects are on the screen, they all jerk about in slow bursts and look most unrealistic.

This sluggishness permeates the whole game. Every time something noteworthy happens in the 3D environment (you talk to someone, for instance) the game pauses, puts up a small graphic pertaining to your action, loads in the data, decompresses it and finally gets around to displaying whatever it is the game wanted. These pauses for disk accessing and decompressing are major design failures and almost ruin the flow of the game, sometimes lasting for five to ten seconds. A hard disk installation option would eliminate the problem at a stroke, but this is absent.

All the other non-3D screens are excellently drawn and full of detail, giving the game a polished look. Sound is limited to some fairly effective spot effects such as birds tweeting, the growl of your engine and the swishing of the sea, and a theme that runs through the non-action sections.

If you can stand the interminable disk accessing there is a huge and challenging game waiting in Flames of Freedom; one which with a few tweaks would be worthy of a Format Gold. More impatient souls are advised to think twice.
Ed Ricketts

Amiga Format, Issue 28, November 1991, p.p.82-84

Left at the lights
Midwinter 2 - Flames of freedom
If you had to travel everywhere in real time you would soon be attacking the enemy with a Zimmer frame rather than a Luger. Fortunately there is a system called Autoroute which lets you set your destination on the main map and travel there automatically.

Plot your route on the map (avoiding the enemy wherever possible) and hit the Quicktime key. Instead of travelling through the 3D environment your progress is charted by the little man who is zooming around the map. If you stray too close to something of interest (like a tank firing shells at your head) you are automatically returned to the 3D world to deal with it.

Autoroute can also be used in the 3D landscape, though of course you only travel at normal speed in that case. If you are feeling particularly confrontational (and you have got a lot of time) you can set a course for the heart of the enemy camps, switch on Autoroute and while away the hours toddling through the landscape. Whenever you come near the enemy, switch off Autoroute and start blasting.

Autoroute is quite intelligent. It allows you to travel through water if you are on foot (because you can swim through it) but in a vehicles you will be stopped at the water’s edge.

Character building

The default agent, Gavin Steel, probably won’t be to your liking (though his mum is proud of him). Fortunately you have the chance to build your own agent before beginning a campaign. The characteristics of your agent will affect the way you tackle each mission and also how you interact with other people, so that someone who is very aggressive is more likely to successfully gain information by threatening rather than cajoling, for instance.
Midwinter 2 - Flames of freedom Firstly you have to select which bits of face you want on your dude/dudette. Being non-exist, non-racist and altogether cool, the game allows you to have female or coloured agents too. This bit is great fun in itself, because you can come up with some really freaky combinations.
Midwinter 2 - Flames of freedom Then you set your character’s psychology. Each of his/her eight traits – Charm, Sex appeal, Bribery, Threats, Reason, Pleading, Authority and Deception – are rated from “poor” to “excellent”, and altering one will change another: if Pleading is set at Excellent, then Authority will automatically be lowered, and so on.
Midwinter 2 - Flames of freedom Finally, you alter your agent’s physique. Here there are five different traits (Reflexes, Sturdiness, Endurance, Recuperation and Stamina) and they are interdependent in much the same way as the psychological ones, so altering one of them directly affects another. Fold lightly and simply cook for 20 minutes ét voila! One agent.

”Strength is important when you consider that you have to win against over 60 vehicles”

Trust me – I know what I’m doing

Most of the people who agree to help you are reliable. Unfortunately, though, sometimes you stumble upon a traitor who betrays you to the secret police.
Midwinter 2 - Flames of freedom That nice gentleman who was so helpful on the phone only turned out to be a blummin’ spy and now you are being whisked off by the secret police to a dark, dank cell somewhere in the deepest bowels of Croydon.
Midwinter 2 - Flames of freedom Once inside you have four choices: to brine/attack/seduce the guard, or sit around and do nothing. Each day a different guard is on duty and they all have their own weaknesses. If you know the guard’s really an old sweetie (and he/she is the opposite sex to you) you could try to seduce him/her. If you want to play safe you can do nothing and wait until a more familiar guard arrives the next day, but time is a-wasting meanwhile. Let’s go for the attack...
Midwinter 2 - Flames of freedom It worked! A chop to the gut and you are out. If it had all gone horribly wrong you would have been overpowered, beaten up (increasing your injuries) and thrown back in the cell. But justice prevailed and now you are free!

Midwinter 2
Rainbird * £34.99
  • Lengthy bouts of disk accessing are frustrating and ruin the atmosphere.
  • Huge playing area, hundreds of characters and lots of variety mean there is a lot to do.
  • 3D display is sluggish, making your character hard to control.
  • Raid and Campaign options suit both shoot-‘em-up and strategy buffs.
  • The long familiarisation period may put some people off.
Verdict: 87%

Midwinter 2 - Flames of freedom logo

Die weiße Pracht aus „Midwinter" ist futsch – wortwörtlich Schnee von gestern. Wohin sich die Menschheit nach dem großen Tauwetter verkrümelt hat, und warum dieses Game seinen Vorgänger locker in den Schatten stellt, erfahrt Ihr in unserem Exklusiv-Test!

Midwinter 2 - Flames of freedom Wenn die Wintermäntel ohnehin ausgedient haben, kann man sich ja gleich in wärmere Gefilde verziehen – so oder ähnlich haben wohl die Midwinter-Leute gedacht, als sie ihren großen Umzug vor die Westküste Afrikas organisierten. Ihre neue Heimat besteht aus 41 Inseln, die größte davon, Agora, ist gleichzeitig auch der Regierungssitz. Hier schaltet und waltet die Atlantic Federation, eine höchst friedliebende und demokratisch gesinnte Regierung. Also alles Friede, Freude, Palmenstrände? Natürlich nicht, dafür sorgt schon das Saharan Empire, ein bitterböser, kriegslüsterner und von einem größenwahnsinnigen Diktator beherrschter Staat auf dem benachbarten Festland. Der würde sich nun furchtbar gern all die unschuldigen kleinen Inselchen einverleiben und hat auch schon die ersten Schritte in dieser Richtung unternommen (Schergen losgeschickt, Spione angeworben, etc.). Deshalb sucht die Atlantic Federation händeringend nach einem fähigen Helden, besser gesagt, sie hat ihn bereits gefunden – den Käufer dieses Spiels natürlich.

Bevor man nun für die gerechte Sache in die Schlacht(en) zieht, darf man sich zunächst mal selbst zusammenstellen. Dafür gibt's so eine Art Charakter-Baukasten, mit dem sich nicht nur Äußerlichkeiten, wie Geschlecht, Nasenform und Körpergewicht, sondern auch die inneren Werte (Kraft, Ausdauer, usw.) festlegen lassen. Das ist keineswegs reine Beschäftigungstherapie, sondern beeinflußt den weiteren Spielverlauf ganz entscheidend: So wie einer ist, so reagieren auch die Leute auf ihn! Und da hier jede Menge falscher Freunde. Doppelagenten und dergleichen Subjekte mehr herumlaufen, spielen Dinge wie Überzeugungskraft und ein gewinnendes Äußeres eine wichtige Rolle. Zudem verändern sich diese Werte wie bei einem Rollenspiel, je nachdem, was man schon alles zustande gebracht hat.

Midwinter 2 - Flames of freedom Unser frischgebackener Retortenheld, hat jetzt verschiedene Möglichkeiten, um später einmal in die Annalen der Atlantic Federation einzugehen. Pro bedrohter Insel gibt's eine Mission, also 40 insgesamt (Agora zählt nicht mit, weil hier – noch – alles in Butter ist). Diese Missionen können wahlweise Stück für Stück oder in einer einzigen, riesigen „Kampagne" erledigt werden. Ganz Vorsichtige dürfen natürlich erst mal ein bißchen üben.

Damit der Held sich nicht so einsam fühlt (er hat ja diesmal keine unmittelbaren Mitstreiter), haben ihm die Programmierer viele, viele Inselbewohner spendiert – ungefähr 1.500 Stück sollen es sein. Und das sind nicht einfach irgendwelche anonymen Pixel in der Landschaft, nein, es sind Individuen mit unterschiedlichen Vorlieben und Abneigungen, gutem oder schlechtem Charakter, einem richtigen Eigenleben halt. Ähnliches trifft auch für die diversen Inseln zu: jede einzelne davon hat ihre geographischen Besonderheiten, jede steckt voller Details, wie Städte, Straßen, Gebirge, Palmenhaine, usw. Kurz und gut, jede ist eine kleine Welt für sich, die es zu erkunden gilt.

Amiga Joker Hit Und wie erkundet man nun so eine kleine Inselwelt? Zu Fuß, beispielsweise; oder mit dem Zug; einem Jeep, Laster, Panzer, Bus, Hovercraft, Hubschrauber, Doppeldecker, Zeppelin, U-Boot, Schnellboot – zwanzig verschiedene Fortbewegungsarten sind möglich! Genau genommen sogar einundzwanzig, denn klickt man auf das „Speedup"-Icon, wird man direkt zum Zielort „gebeamt". Dabei wird zwar Zeit gespart, aber nicht an Realismus: befindet sich auf der (automatisch gewählten) Route ein böser Gegner, muß man kurz zwischenlanden, um sich mit dem Herrn zu unterhalten. Weil man zu solchen Gesprächen besser nie mit leeren Händen kommt, stehen dem Helden 16 verschiedene Waffen zur Verfügung – von der Harpune über diverse Ballermänner bis zur Dynamitstange.

Es gäbe noch viel mehr über dieses Spiel zu erzählen, beispielsweise läßt sich die Übersichtskarte in sechs Stufen zoomen, es gibt wieder die bereits vom Vorgänger bekannten Screen-Armaturen (Kompaß, Radar, Uhr, Energie- und Höheanzeigen, etc.) und Dutzende, ach was, Millionen Einstellmöglichkeiten und Optionen. Auch optisch ist das Game allererste Sahne: Die Vektorgrafik ist doppelt so schnell wie früher, dabei aber ausgesprochen detailfreudig – egal, ob man nun gerade unter Wasser oder in der Luft unterwegs ist, und ob es Tag oder Nacht ist. bei der Handhabung hat sich ebenfalls einiges getan, die Steuerung (Maus/Joystick/Keyboard) reagiert jetzt deutlich sensibler, und die Anordnung der Icons ist ein Muster an Übersichtlichkeit. Auf dem gleichen hohe Niveau befindet sich auch der Sound – musikalisch und effektmäßig. Der langer Rede kurzer Sinn: Microprose hat mit diesem technisch perfekten Mix aus Strategie, Action und Adventure wahrhaftig ein Jahrhundertgame abgeliefert! (mm)

Amiga Joker, May 1991, p.p.12-13

Der Amiga Joker meint:
"Wer diesen Sommer richtig genießen will, braucht Midwinter II!"

Amiga Joker
Midwinter II
Grafik: 93%
Sound: 84%
Handhabung: 85%
Spielidee: 82%
Dauerspaß: 93%
Preis/Leistung: 88%

Red. Urteil: 88%
Preis: ca 99,- DM
Hersteller: Microprose
Genre: Mixtur

Spezialität: Unsere Testversion hatte drei Disketten und war englisch. In der endgültigen Fassung wird das Game aber komplett in deutsch, samt einen dicken Handbuch und allerlei Beilagen abgeliefert.