Bring me to the main page   Bring me to the Reviews Index

Napalm logo  Amiga Format Gold  AGA 

Ben Vost gets medieval on yo' ass with the biggest, noisiest Amiga game yet!

Napalm Those of us who have access to other, inferior platforms know all about the existence of what are called RTS, or Real-Time Strategy games. Names like Command and Conquer, Warcraft II, Star Craft, Total Annihilation and KKND are bandied around in PC land like nobody's business. Unfortunately, it's also meant that the genre has become rather stale on those platforms and people on the PC say, "Oh look another RTS game, how quaint."
Part of the reason is that these games don't really offer new stuff over their competitors, apart from new missions and different units and buildings, although the titles I've mentioned are the leaders of their ilk.

In fact, at first glance you could be forgiven for thinking that Napalm was nothing but a Command and Conquer clone, old-fashioned and just not that interesting. However, even if you're one of these PC-owning RTS buffs, you'll soon realise that Napalm has much more to offer than a simple rehash of the same old units and scenarios.
There are no animated intros on the grounds that they're only eye candy and you've really lashed out your £30 to play a game, not look at pretty pictures, and yet it takes up 174Mb of the CD it comes on. Don't be fooled into thinking that the CD is only quarter full either – there are audio tracks as well, twenty of them to be precise, that play along with the game's action and punctuate the loading. There are units that you've never seen in an RTS game before, like tunnel construction vehicles that allow you to sneak past enemy defences as though they weren't there, plus fake units and buildings that cost little to build but which can distract an opponent's attention away from the real deal.

One of the really notable things about Napalm is the fact that the terrain doesn't appear to have been built on the fly with pre-formed graphical building blocks. There's a genuine sense that each landscape is really a huge picture that gets revealed a bit at a time because of the meandering of your units, especially when you come across huge derelict skyscrapers or meteors that have ploughed into the ground giving the game something of an otherworldly feel.
In addition to this, although most of the missions are on the order of staying alive for as long as possible and, oh yes, if you can, wipe out the enemy, it's not all trashing your opponents' joints since you'll have to take over buildings or use special units to destroy them and so on.

As for the differences between the good guys (the UEDF, or United Earth Defence Force) and the unnamed robot rebellion, they're slight and mainly limited to different units. However, you might imagine that robots would have no need of 'barracks" or even vehicles (why not build intelligent vehicles?), but they do give a feeling that the robots are an implacable enemy, especially when you see the all-too red blood of a UEDF soldier staining the snow.

The game itself is pretty tough, as players of the demo on our CD (again, for those who missed it the first time around) will attest. The enemy really hound you and will happily run away at the first sign of serious trouble to get more units to come back and punish you for your indiscretion. As such, I reckon it'll take quite some time to get through them all, and then you'll have to start again from the other side…

Napalm There are tactics that seem to be quite effective and there's the usual problem of units all wanting to be on exactly the spot you clicked on, so you still have to do the micro-management thing where you have to adjust each individual troop or vehicle until it's in exactly the right place for you.

One of the things that's really nifty about the game is the quality of the animation and sound effects. The units all move nicely and the designs for some of the bigger weapons are superb, like the UEDF's Bastard Tank which has four revolving barrels that chuck out grenades.
As your vehicle takes damage, fewer grenades come flying out of the barrels per revolution, until you're down to a measly one every couple of seconds and the unit dies. The UEDF don't have it all their own way, though – the robots' Predator tank can curve a football like no other boot… sorry. I mean that it too has a revolving mini-gun-style barrel mounted on top of its chassis that spins at high speed as it chucks hailstorms of lead upon its enemies.

The robots also have one of the best units on the battlefield that the UEDF can't cope to compete with – the spy satellite, which uncovers all the terrain there is. That means you don't have to scout, but you'll have to wait until later in the game to get that and it doesn't come cheaply, or quickly.

Overall, this is an absolutely cracking original Amiga game. You'll need a highly powered Amiga to play it, but it's worth your while since Napalm will keep you engrossed for hours on end in every session. Here at Amiga Format we can only hope that the TCP gaming facility doesn't come out because it may well make this game the biggest threat to bringing out a new issue on time since SWOS first tore the team apart over dodgy offside goals.

For gamers who like a bit of thought to their strategy games, this might not appeal quite as much as the Avalon hill favourite Squad Leader, but those who like the appeal of a game that's easy to get into, hard to complete and incredibly fun to play, Napalm really has it all.

Amiga Format, Issue 122, April 1999, pp.126-129

(Many thanks to Blackcornflake for providing the original scan of the review)

Has anyone got a map? The maps for Napalm are pretty extensive, and even though this is a first level robot mission, there's still plenty of wandering around to do. They also come in three different "flavours" – snow, desert and forest. Napalm Map

UEDF UNITS READY, SIR!
UEDF logo Bazooker
Bazooker
One of the best foot-soldiers and good value for money if you keep him behind the ranks.
Radar Outpost
Radar Outpost
Absolutely vital if you're playing in Low Res, but not quite as important if you're not.
Cheyenne
Cheyenne
Don't bother going for the diddy helicopter – just go for this incredibly heavily-armed one instead!
Heavy Factory
Heavy Factory
Gorgeous animation almost makes it worthwhile on its own, but this churns out the best units too.
Tunnel CV
Tunnel CV
Although I didn't use tunnels as much as I might, once built they're a great way of getting around.
Light Factory
Light Factory
You need this to be able to build heavier factories. Don't forget that you can demolish your own buildings.
Bastard
Bastard
A fantastic unit. This chucks out grenades with its revolving barrels, but be warned, it's very expensive!
Nitroglycerin
Nitroglycerin
The good guy's only suicide unit. It's powerful but definitely a one-shot weapon for when you need it.
Special Factory
Special Factory
You need one of these to get your airborne cavalry into action, and to get paratroop backups for your base.

ROBOTS AT THE READY, SIR!
Giant Antigrav
Giant Antigrav
This laser-armed unit is great for attacks over water, against buildings or men.
Thunderbolt
Thunderbolt
Great big zaps come flying out of this dish every so often. Brilliant for frying buildings.
Nuke Missile
Nuke Missile
This is the bomb. No, really. It takes ages to build one though so don't hang around.
Solar Power Plant
Solar Power Plant
You'll need plenty of these to keep your base going. Try to put them out the back.
Robots logo
Heavy Factory
Heavy Factory
Like the UEDF's heavy factory, this makes some of the best units of the whole game.
Predator Tank
Predator Tank
This fast-firing heavy unit is ideal for use against buildings or other units.
Spy Satellite
Spy Satellite
This uncovers ALL terrain so you don't need to send units scouting any more.
Technician
Technician
Absolutely vital if you'd like to take over buildings rather than blow them up.
Antigrav Factory
Antigrav Factory
Makes Antigrav units. Well, what did you expect? Hot chocolate as well?



There's a huge sense that each landscape is really a huge picture that gets revealed
a bit at a time...

Play low, sweet chariot
If you don't have a top notch Amiga you'll probably be limited to playing Napalm in low resolution – 320x200, 320x240 or 320x256. Any of these modes are somewhat painful to play the game in because of the fact that buildings tend to take up rather a lot of screen area. It didn't matter in Dune II because the graphics were very basic and small, but the amount of detail that's been put into buildings and units in Napalm means that your command centre, a solar generator and a few units can actually fill up the whole screen, considerably changing the way you play the game.

For a start, having a radar becomes all-important in a way that it isn't for 640x480 play, just so you can see what's happening on your doorstep. It's a shame that there isn't a second graphics set for the buildings and units that doesn't give you as much detail but still offers a comparable playing area.

I got asked a question about whether we'd review the game on an average A1200 today by a reader on the Amiga Format Bulletin mailing list and I had to reply that if I did the review on an average (according to our survey last year) machine, it would read something like: "It doesn't work. I haven't got enough RAM, and even if I did my '030/25 wouldn't be up to the task." This is a game that rewards people who've spent some money on their machines, and if it's out of the reach of those unwilling or unable to spend that kind of money then so be it. It's a better game because it hasn't been crippled to play on a 2Mb A1200, or a half meg A500.

I know that's not going to be a popular view, it really fits this particular situation.

Running costs
Much like running a tank or a helicopter, the running costs for Napalm are fairly steep. I guess you might be able to get away with an '030/50, but to be honest I think an '040 is a realistic minimum, and that's for Low Res play. To be able to play the game the way it was intended you're going to need an '060 and preferably a graphics card of some description to get a 640x480 playing area.

Then there's the fact that the game needs 16Mb of RAM to work at all. In fact, clickBOOM install the game with a "Napalm.BOOT" script which reboots your machine to free up as much RAM as possible to let Napalm get enough. Oh, you'll also need a CD-ROM drive as much of the game is kept on the CD, unlike Quake, so you'll need to have it in the drive when playing.

If you've got all these things then the game should run just fine. It does here on my CyberStorm Mk.III with 64Mb RAM and CyberVision64/3D. Not that that's a great graphics card, though.



The
units all move nicely and the designs for some of the bigger weapons are superb, like the UEDF's Bastard tank…

Unfinished business?
Those of you looking forward to a network game of Napalm, or to hearing its audio delights through your expensive sound card, will be somewhat disappointed. The software only comes with drivers for Paula and the normal null modem connection to start off with.

clickBOOM have said that they'll make these available on their website, and obviously we'll put them on our CD, but clickBOOM haven't got a great reputation for delivering add-ons for their games. This may be because they haven't sold well enough for them to continue paying for added development, but even so, if you only have an Ethernetted Draco machine you'll be out of luck to start with.

Speeling Mistokes?
One of the odd, and slightly bad, things about Napalm is the poor spelling that's evident throughout the game.

On units like the "plasmer" it may not be important since it could be argued that it's a trade name for a type of unit, but things like "Spy Sattelite" aren't really forgivable and it really detracts from the polished touches that clickBOOM have obviously added.

DEVELOPED BY: clickBOOM
SUPPLIED BY: clickBOOM, but widely available
PRICE: £29.99
RELEASE DATE: Out now

Pros and Cons
Pro Fantastic visuals.
Pro Addictive to the max.
Con Enemy intelligence pretty high.
Con Slightly unfinished feel to the game.
OVERALL VERDICT: Who needs ports? This original game kicks serious butt.
90%