Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is the novel by Phillip K Dick, that was the inspiration for the ultimate Cyberpunk movie, Blade Runner. Now the indie programming team Computer's Dream have produced - they hope - the ultimate Cyberpunk adventure, BAT II. You're taken to the late 21st century where the people are a mish mash of Romans, Shedish (a highly evolved race from the planet Simian) and the Illcan (not so bright race of aliens). The architects of this world take ideas from the Roman era and mix them with technology to produce something they call a 'High Tech Paradox'.
You play the part of a BAT agent (it's an acronym, like UNCLE, and stands for Bureau of Astral Troubleshooters) on the search for evidence to prove how corrupt the Koshans are. It is rumoured they are forcibly taking control of all the known Echiatone mines in the galaxy. Echitone is a valuable spice, essential to the smooth running of the modern world, smacks a bit of Dune methinks. You roam the six sectors of Roma 2, the capital of the planet Shedishan, moving from screen to screen. It's like reading a comic: many of the screens are visible at once, their size relative to the importance of the location. As you look around the location the mouse pointer changes from an arrow to a credit card or a speech icon, depending on what you're pointing at.
Although a cross between graphic and text adventure BAT II encompasses other elements. There are four flight and one driving simulators, which can be set on manual or automatic. You can't damage yourself in the simulations and travelling manually is cheaper, but takes longer. A lot of work has been put into getting longer fields of vision in the 3D simulations, which gives the movement a more realistic feel to it. The simulations aren't just there for fun; they're the only way to travel further down the street you're on.
Your inventory is set up like a set of Russian dolls: A bag inside a bag. So you have to make sure you put things sensibly in your rucksack otherwise valuable time is spent trying to sort out the contents of your handbag when you should be collecting clues.
It's not all fun, fun, fun
There's an arcade section that not only gives your brain cells a rest but it's a good way to keep the cash-flow flowing. There are three arcade games in total comprising a Breakout clone where you control not one bat but four, a Chinese Chequers game and a weird thing in which you control mercury flowing through various pipes and taps.
At the beginning of the game you are given the option of which BAT agent you wish control. Jehan Menasis is the agent you 'get free', but you can design design your own with specific qualities, like 85 per cent charisma. A smarmy, handsome young man can creep his way around even the hardest-
BAT II comes on five disks and is not hard disk installable, though it does make use of extra disk drives. While loading doesn't take long it still ruins the atmosphere somewhat, and in a game like this the atmosphere is a big part of enjoyment.
Along the way you recruit allies. Before sending them on a mission make sure you give them a video
This is the sort of game you get lost in... immerse yourself in tomorrow's world
BAT II is not copy protected, the coders have used the much maligned dongle protection system. Herve Lange of Computer's Dream explains: "We find that dongles are adequate protection against piracy, and it is the programmers fault if it is easily foiled." We will have to wait and see if his theory is right.
There are over 400 animated sequences, the colours of the city change as night falls to a dingy blue grey; overall BAT II looks very, very nice. There's enough detail to hold your attention eve if you're not getting very far, if say you're a novice to adventuring. This is the sort of game you get lost in, it's so huge it's difficult to know where you've been and where you go to next. But if you enjoy immersing yourself in tomorrow's world, playing a modern-