Burntime logo

The world is in a very dodgy state. What with the whales being killed, the ozone layer still being depleted by CFC's and all sorts of nasty things in the soil, we (the human race) have got a problem. Of course, even when the seas are lifeless pools of pollution and the once verdant pastures are arid deserts, we'll still have computer games. Hurrah!

However, I doubt very much that we will be playing Burntime. It could be a bit close to home, because it's all set in a distinctly unpleasant future, where the radiation-scarred wastelands are populated by hideous mutants who like nothing better than to eat innocent normals, without even washing their hands.

The human race has been reduced to scouring the earth for food, where the only edible things are maggots, snakes, rats and dogs. Not a McDonalds in sight. What a hellish vision of our future this is.

Anyway, you, as the brave and courageous hero, intend to bring some sort of order to this anarchic wold by taking over the various cities and settlements with your military colleagues.

You start off with an army of one (you), and you have to wander the land trading, hunting and attempting to persuade people to join your party. As you gradually build up a following, you occupy settlements and lead your band of happily psychopathic warriors on a quest for truth, justice and a slightly less maggoty way of life.

Burntime certainly has an interesting premise, and there is plenty of opportunity for adventure in the wide range of settlements spread around the globe. It's a pity, then, that the process of moving around a settlement looks rather like something from an old Spectrum game.

You get your group (or individuals) to move by clicking on the destination, but the characters are rather dim - they often get stuck behind an obstacle, leaving them wandering around in circles. This is incredibly irritating, especially when you're looking to do over a mutant who made a rude gesture in your direction.

Other options (such as instruction one of your band to guard a site or to separate form the main group) are available from a menu which appears when you click on the right mouse button. This can also put you into either talk or fight mode. Clicking on any of the other characters on the screen with the left button carries out the appropriate action, which comes down to either blasting the mutants or chatting nicely.

This control method is rather difficult to get the hang of, but once you get your brain around it, it's not too bad. However, this game is rather irritating in other ways. For instance, if you inadvertently set out on a trip with insufficient water, you die. No warnings, no chance to turn back, just a screen that informs you that you are deader than a very dead thing. This is incredibly infuriating, especially when you've just left a place with more water than you could carry.

Burntime is an intriguing game with an undeniable hook to it. However, it unfortunately fails to bring the various elements of combat and strategy together, leaving something of a mess. The overall experience is atmospheric, but it really fails to drag you in.



Burntime logo Amiga Joker Hit

Ein Ozonloch in der Größe Australiens, Sonnenbaden nur noch mit Lichtschutzfaktor 73, zum Abendessen Rattenbraten und Madendessert? Doch, so stellen sich die "1869er" von Max Design unsere Zukunft vor!

Für das grimmige Szenario ihres neuen Echtzeigames haben die Austro-Softler den Öko-Teufel wahrhaft in Lebensgröße auf den Screen gemalt: Der Weltuntergang ist alltägliche Gegenwart, geschlafen wird im Ruinenbett, ganze Landstriche sind nur mit Schutzanzug oder Gasmaske zu betreten - und der kümmerliche Rest der aussterbenden Menschheit balgt sich nach Kräften um die Überbleibsel einstiger zivilisatorischer Größe...

Unschwer zu erraten, daß der Spieler für das Wohlergehen eines dieser Endzeitler zu sorgen hat; ein weiterer kann entweder menschlich oder digital gesteuert werden, und noch zwei Überlebende unterliegen auf alle Fälle der Kontrolle des Rechners. Anfangs willkürlich über die Landkarte verstreut, geht es für die vier Konkurrenten nun darum, letzten Endes zum Imperator der gesamten Region aufzusteigen.

Das ist freilich weit entfernte Zukunftsmusik, denn Euer digitales Alter ego kann vorläufig froh sein, wenn es überhaupt am Leben bleibt. Die erste Aufgabe wäre also, eine verläßliche Wasserquelle in greifbarer Nähe aufzutreiben und ein paar Fressalien einzusacken. Wessen Magen da bei den überall herumlungernden Wildhunden knurrt, der stelle sich besser auf heftige Gegenwehr ein, wogegen sich Maden zwangsläufig nicht so sehr sträuben, aber auch nur halb so lecker sind.

Erst mal gesättigt, wird man auf längere Sicht um eine vernünftige Ausrüstung und Bewaffnung nicht herumkommen. Wie gut, daß allerlei brauchbarer Kram in den Zeltdörfern, Höhlensiedlungen und zerbröselten Städten liegt - man muß halt nur ein bißchen suchen, um auf wahre Schätze wie Drahtreste, leere Flaschen oder kaputte Wasserpumpen zu stoßen. Mit derlei Fundsachen kann man zwar nicht immer unmittelbar etwas anfangen, aber in den größeren Orten schwirren schließlich nicht umsonst fliegende Händler umher, die vielleicht auf ein Tauschgeschäft eingehen.

Soweit hätte man sich quasi als Abenteurer und Händler zu betätigen, nunmehr kommt jedoch auch der Rollenspieler in Euch zum Zuge, denn ein Imperator ohne Anhängergeschaft ist ja nun eher eine traurige Figur. Folglich geht es im weiteren darum, aus dem imponierenden NPC-Pool von gut 300 Hungerleidern verschiedener Profession seine Party-Mitglieder zur rekrutieren. Soldaten wären dabei fürs Grobe zuständig. Techniker können manchmal selbst aus Schrott noch brauchbare Geräte basteln, und Knochenflicker sorgen sich halt um das leibige Wohl ihrer Leute.

Darüber hinaus kann man etwa Minen legen oder ein paar schwere Jungs für Wachaufgaben abstellen und erhält somit feste Stützpunkte, die erstens selbstständig Nahrung produzieren und zweitens halbwegs sichere Lager für wichtiges Material darstellen, beispielsweise die eingangs erwähnten Schutzanzüge.

Last but not least fehlen natürlich auch die tätlichen Auseinandersetzunge nicht: Normalerweise (sprich: bei Attacken auf den Chef) wehrt man sich per Hand durch permanentes Klicken auf den Gegner, falls jedoch ein Stützpunkt in Eurer Abwesenheit überfallen wird, habt Ihr die Wahl zwischen rechner- oder selbstgesteuertem Kampf.

In diesem Zusammenhang ist sicher interessant, daß man nicht einfach beliebig von Ort zu Ort reisen kann, sondern an das bestehende Wegenetz gebunden ist. Wer also seine Festungen in Käffern einrichtet, wo sich mehrere Routen kreuzen (oder entsprechende Stützpunkte vom Feind erobert), kann mit vergleichsweise wenig Aufwand recht große Gebiete kontrollieren!

Auf der scrollbaren Landkarte, die, wie überhaupt weite Teil der Optik, ein bißchen an "Dune" erinnert, sind eingemeindete Gemeinden durch Fahnen in der Farbe des Spielers markiert. Zudem läßt sich von hier aus jederzeit die Versorgungslage in den eigenen Städtchen überprüfen; seine Fahrten plant man ebenfalls auf diesem Screen. Am Ziel angelangt, schaltet der Rechner auf eine isometrische Schrägperspektive à la "Populous" um, und die liebevoll gezeichnete Häuserreste, Wohnhöhlen und Blockhütten können per Mausklick abgesucht werden.

Auch im Gelände selbst läßt sich hin und wieder etwas Nützliches auftreiben, doch manch wichtige Installation wie z.B. der örtliche Brunnen mag versteckt sein, während größere Metropolen sogar mit Kneipen und Arztpraxen dienen können. Hier wuseln auch viele kleine Männchen herum, die in Multiple-Choice-Gesprächen für wichtige Infos und bissigen Humor sorgen, Eurem Verein beitreten oder ihn in einen der schon erwähnten Kämpfe verwickeln.

Der nach Art des österreichischen Hauses farbenfrohen und durch zahlreiche animierte Zwischenbilder aufgelockerten Grafik stehen die insgesamt 27 atmosphärischen Soundtracks keineswegs nach; einzig die FX (Schlaggeräusche, Hundebellen usw.) klingen etwas gewöhnlicher.

Dafür gefällt die Handhabung mit ihrer sauberen Aufgabenteiling von linkem und rechtem Mausohr wider ausgezeichnet, und über die Spielbarkeit können sich selbst Harddisk-Verächter nicht beschweren: Wer zumindest über eine Zweitfloppy verfügt, braucht kaum je zu wechseln, die Nachladezeiten halten sich in Grenzen.

Summa summarum haben wir es hier mit einem dieser seltenen Fälle zu tun, wo die Technik ebenso stimmt wie das komplexe und abwechslungsreiche Gameplay, das durch zufallsgesteuerte Item- und Spielerverteilung anhaltende Motivation garantiert. Das hohe Joker-Gericht kann demnach keine Gnade walten lassen - Burntime wird zu lebenslänglichem Hit verdonnert! (jn)



Burntime logo

They came across the desert in leather trousers, with wildness in their eyes. Life is hard in those bitter years after the...

You know how it is these days. Corrupt, crazy, corporate, caustic, capitalist consumerism has a voracious, unrestrained, knows-no-bounds, destroy-all-in-its-path appetite. The planet itself is being ripped to shreds in the name of moisturisers with age-defying complex and action liposomes, cheeseburgers with extra World Cup-size bites and American-style relish, and nappies with super-absorbency for extra confidence and dryness. So at least it's being done for something worthwhile. Ain't progress great, eh?

Not that it really matters anyway. By the time we exceed critical mass and ecological meltdown occurs, I'll be dead. So that's all right then. Nothing to worry me there. (Except being dead, obviously - Ed)

Fortunately for Mother Earth, Greenpeace's altruistic diehards refuse to accept the inevitability of temporal toxicity and have directed all their public awareness resources and heroic efforts into fighting the forces of apathy, green, waste, destruction and authoritarian sanctioned espionage, and then getting blown up by the French secret service.

And here's Burntime - the game of the principles of the group endorsing the game, if you see what I mean.

SIZZLE
The point of Burntime is to guide your character over a large-ish post-apocalyptic desert map, recruit followers, feed and water yourself, and overthrow and control all the major cities. Helping not at all with first impressions is the bald fact that you're going to die a lot on your fledgeling outing.

It's the only way that you'll make any real progress, because the game's all about sussing out which locations are best as water sources and which as food sources, where you can easily find doctors and merchants, and so on. Obviously, you don't want to know everything at the start, but killing you off with maddening frequency goes beyond the pale.

The laughable graphics are another point against the game. They look exactly like Speccy UDGs and move in such a horribly tortured manner that actually meeting other characters is made that much more difficult. But, as we constantly preach to you, good graphics don't make a good game.

And Burntime is a good game. Not a great one, but a good one. On the first couple of plays, I got all prickly and restless. "This is tedious crap," I thought. And I was mostly wrong. (It was entertaining crap? Oh, never mind. - Ed) The reason for this conclusion was simple.


Recruit followers, feed and water yourself

JUGGLING
After the initial, uncomfortably extended setting-in period as I grappled with the ideas and challenges of the game, things begin assuming a definable shape. You can only carry so much precious life-sustaining food and water. It lasts a finite chronological period before replenishments are required.

Considering that your main objective lives in the recruitment of people from the various towns, cities and settlements scattered around the desert, it makes sense to ensure you're carrying enough to see you safely on your way to the next town.

As soon as you've recruited some followers, you use them to take, secure and hold the aforementioned settlements. This isn't as much of a problem as it sounds, assuming, of course, that you've read your basic strategy handbooks and made a thorough reccy of the area.

The trick (and hence main fun of the game) is juggling the variables required to reach the heady heights of overlord of all you survey. Generally this involves maintaining a supply of vitals to your people, and pushing them around a bit so they feel up to defending your territory or storming a low country.

In order to do this, you've got to recruit technicians who can, quite metaphorically, make something out of nothing. Have your followers dredge conquered settlements for large piles of rubbish, hand them over to your technicians, and before you can mention plagiarizing the A-Team, you've got some terrible weapon that nevertheless looks nice on a mantelpiece, or something.

So. Well-composed conclusion time. It's an odd, but on the whole satisfactory, jumble is Burntime. The ideas are certainly new: it borrows from everything from The Settlers to that number-crunching favourite Kingdom.

You get a lot of interesting tussles and sieges, but you also have to contend with trudging around in a half-aimless exploratory manner for a fair bit of the game. It's certainly not outstanding or excellent or anything like that, but it is solid, dependable and performs well. "Vorsprung durch Technik", as Greenpeace might say if they had a mind to joke about the tool of the devil that is the internal combustion engine.


MAD MAX FACTORS

Burntime
Get a head in advertising.

Burntime
Has he had his Weetabix?

Burntime
Ray Bahn needs some shade.

Burntime
Lead free diets were appreciated.

Burntime
He loves the smell of napalm.

Burntime
Pro vitamin B plus stinks.

Burntime
Even Jesus had a hard time here.

Burntime
Use only natural fibres kids.



Burntime logo

You might not have heard much about it, but it has been incredibly popular in Germany for the last six months. Tony Dillon takes a teary look at one of the most environmentally-aware games ever released.

The world is not in the best possible condition. This is something we are being made aware of all the time. Charities campaign on every street corner. The homeless surround us. The Ozone layer is rapidly disappearing. I am sorry if I sound a little negative, but I have just been playing Burntime, and the future is so black I am going to have to carry a torch.

Burntime is set after the Nuclear Holocaust has occurred, and you are one of the few survivors. What was once a beautiful place has become a barren wasteland, with small isolated settlements dotted around populated by savages, mutants and bounty hunters. Your aim is a simple one - you have to survive.

You need to find enough food and water to stay alive, while keeping your head and your body joined at the neck. You will have to kill most of the people you come across to steal their possessions and even beat the stuffing out of dogs just to give yourself something to eat. I know it sounds disgusting, but hey, it is a wilderness out there.

Actually there is something more to the game than just that. To make your life that little bit more comfortable, you do actually have a firm aim - to rule the world. OK, so that might seem a high sight to set, but then we are all driven by something. Remember, that most of the villages are in fact empty, or only controlled by mutants with food on their mind rather than politics.

If you can seize control of the 38 small towns dotted around, then you automatically gain control of the five large cities, and therefore control the world. It might not sound like a lot, but the programmers behind the game estimate that if you played the game intensely, it would take two weeks start to finish to complete it.

You begin the game in the middle of nowhere, and from here have to create an army of soldiers, doctors and technicians to help you run the world. The soldiers hold fort in the towns for you, as well as aiding you in combat with the wandering enemies.

The doctors keep you fit and well, although you are going to have to go into major cities if you are really close to death, and the technicians will take the odd things you find scattered around to turn them into something more useful, like rat traps or food containers.

To recruit people, you need to stop and chat to them. This is where the more grisly aspects of the miserable future world come into existence. Some people you talk to are not capable of anything more than a couple of grunts, or tell you that they are going to eat you. Others will spill stories of woe and hardship. Occasionally, you will meet someone amenable, but I would not hold my breath. These are just people doing the same thing as you, trying their best to survive in an inhospitable environment.

Playing Burntime could be described as a depressing experience, because it makes you painfully aware of what is happening to the world around us. It is painfully true to life, a lot of research has gone into this game and the programmers have consulted Greenpeace all along the way.

I cannot really describe Burntime in a nutshell, except to say that it is a very atmospheric RPG, with a message that really makes you sit back and think.


MUSIC MAESTRO

The launch of the CD-ROM version in Germany heralded the first real interaction between computer games and the underground charts. Forget Tetris, the Burntime Techno CD single has been flying high in the charts all over Europe, getting as high as Number nine in the French Techno charts! As CD-ROM games start to use 'real' music, with any luck we will see a lot more of this sort of thing going on.


Burntime AGA logo AGA Amiga Joker Hit

Wer das abenteuerlich-düstere Endzeitszenario von Max Design am A1200 bereisen will, muß dafür erst mal 99 Travellerschecks einreichen. Dafür darf er dann in der aus der Geierperspektive gezeigten, höchst unwirtlichen postatomaren Welt nach Herzenslust überleben und mit Hilfe der angeworbenen Mitstreiter sowie einer Scrollbaren Landkarte sein eigenes Imperium aufbauen.

Die Grafik ist ebenso schön wie praktisch gestaltet und sieht dank ihrer 256 Farben jetzt noch um eine Nuance hübscher aus. Ansonsten war an dem komplexen Game eh kaum etwas zu verbessern, also bleibt es bei 86 Prozent. (ms)