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After seven years, an infinite number of previews and an incredible amount of hype will Andrew Braybrook's masterpiece live up to expectations? Jon Sloan looks for the truth behind the legend.

Uridium 2 T here's no doubt that this game is a cleverly-crafted bit of coding. Seven years in the making and with umpteen bells and whistles Uridium 2 is so slick it trips itself up. It's a bit like a meringue -beautiful to look at but with little substance. Forgetting the usual dubious storyline, the aim of the game is fairly simple: you pilot a small Manta attack craft over the top of huge space battle cruisers shooting everything that comes your way. When you've destroyed a suitable amount of the superstructure, land the Manta on one of the battleship's pads, get out and then use a hand laser to blow up the main reactor. Simple huh? Wrong! This is one tough game - from getting to grips with the controls to actually taking on the enemy; nothing is easy.

CONTROLLED FIRE
First up, you have to learn to control the Manta. Grabbing a joystick, wiggling it a bit and stabbing fire just isn't good enough. These basics of craft control are no problem but to advance you'll need to learn how to turn the Manta on its side and even upside down. You see, on later levels sections of the dreadnoughts are raised up. So, to avoid a Manta-mashing smash, you'll need to be able to twist through more contortions than an Indian rubber man. These raised bits are probably one of the most annoying aspects of the game. The only way to spot them is to glance at the scanner or look for a telltale shadow. That's all well and good but when you're speeding away from a squadron of fighters dodging laser blasts, it's almost impossible to spot them until it's too late.
Protecting each dreadnought are up to nine attack waves of fighters, which have the tendency to sneak up on you when you least expect it. Don't rely on your radar to spot them 'cos they're generally too fast for it to be of any practical value. In fact, on laer levels, when they start to use jamming equipment, it's next to useless. To add to your misery these fighters arbitrarily change formation and even send single chase ships after your Manta. Destroy a whole wave though and you'll get a chance to nab a victory token. Normally you need to survive all the attack waves before landing to blow up the reactor, but collect enough victory tokens and can land early.

PARKING METER
Once you've parked the Manta the view switches to the inside of the dreadnought's reactor. Your job here is to control the pilot as he circles the core blasting it to bits. This is easier said than done as it'll try to protect itself with a shield which attacks as well as defends.
Control here is pretty tricky 'cos the core exerts a gravitational force alternating between attraction and repulsion making the usual inertia even more frustrating. But succesful penetration releases a shower of pick-ups giving your Manta even more power on the next level. Blow one ship up and it's on to the next, and the next, each becoming more and more taxing with the addition of ultra complicated attack waves and crash-inducing superstructure. The final challenge will take even the most able game player a lifetime to master.

UNDER MINED
I've a feeling that Uridium 2 is going to be one of those games that polarises opinion. Some people are going to go wild over it, others, like myself, will end up feeling nothing more than antipathy. It's true that everything that glitters is not gold and this game reinforces that axiom. It is a polished game and it's obvious that a lot of thought has gone into the design. However, it's just too damn tough. But then again, maybe I'm getting old?

CU Amiga, November 1993, p.67

URIDIUM... THEN AND NOW
The original Uridium was one of the best games to appear on the old C64. In fact, in 1986, it collected more awards for gameplay than you could shake a stick at. The plots for the two are virtually identical - huge dreadnoughts, small Manta craft, generator explosions etc. In fact, Mr Braybrook has ported across all the original attack wave patterns and only modified them where he felt that they were too tough to beat. In addition, new attack waves have been added with ships that can break formation and chase the player.
So, what else is new? The control mode has been updated to allow for faster turns and greater manoeuvrability. The Manta can now fly upside down, which is useful for avoiding chase ships as they can't hit you while in that position. There are weapon pick-ups for increased firepower, but the enemy ships now have chaff to confuse the power-ups. The generator destruction sub-game has been beefed up considerably and owners of AGA machines get the benefit of Mayhem mode where even the kitchen sink is thrown at you. Finally, there's a new option for a drone ship to follow your Manta. This can be controlled by the computer or a second player.
RENEGADE 25.99
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RENEGADE, C1, METROPOLITAN WHARF, WAPPING WALL, LONDON SW4 OLB. TEL: 071 702 3643
 
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81%
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74%
Slick, polished but too damn tough.
OVERALL: 78%