Active adventuring

Corruption logo

Dave Eriksson fights demons from EA and mammom from BT.

MANY people believe that Infocom produces the best adventure games. This obviously depends upon the type of game you favour, active or passive. Is it a total mind bender or do you prefer the adrenalin to be pumped as well?
If you are for the mind-bender type, you may have to consider someone else taking over the lead position. Corruption, written by Magnetic Scrolls and distributed by Rainbird, must surely be the nearest contender we have yet seen as a genuine replacement to Infocom's past successes.

Your knowledge of the lot at the start is minimal. All you have is that your name is Derek Rogers, a financial whiz in the City. Having shown a talent in dealing with today's money markets, you have been offered and accepted a partnership from David Rogers - that could cause some confusion for a start.

The new job seems almost too good to be true. You just love your new BMW with its built-in everything. Back in the office you find that your new secretary is somewhat uncommunicative and that you do not even have your own phone, but as the firm is moving to new premises shortly you are not that worried - or are you...

Initially it is the little things that jar, like the mention of the Serious Fraud Squad in the dealing room and being rather roughly excluded from a meeting with David and the company's legal adviser.
As you start to look around the feeling of unease grows and the discovery of your firm's cheque for £60,000 made out to a wanted criminal is definitely causing cold chills to run up and down your spine.

A fairly short spin at the keyboard will convince you that being framed for insider dealing is only one of your worries. Two successful attempts on your life must make you wonder if there is more than coincidence in the fact that you and your new partner are both D. Rogers.

THERE are plenty of things to find and manipulate in Corruption, but the crux of the game is timing and character interaction.
Everything possible must be examined and noted. Clues found in this fashion can then be fed to other characters via ASK ABOUT or TELL ABOUT. From their replies a fresh line of enquiries may be built up.

Each command you input makes the on-screen clock ticks on one minute. Not only does this mean you must clock watch to ensure you have time to get to any appointments, but also that people and items of interest may appear and disappear as time goes by.

Unless you have an exceedingly good memory you must make notes of what you have spoken about with various people. Some events and replies will only happen if you have completed specific actions.
As time is important, you will certainly be using the save facility. If you return to a previous save you must know what you have said and what you have yet to say.

The box contains some vital information presented in the form of sheets from a filofax notebook and also an audio cassette. The latter you will be cued to play at the appropriate time and is a lovely example of how, with clever editing, an innocent conversation may be used against you.

Graphics are as good as any yet produced by Magnetic Scrolls and not surprisingly concentrate on people rather than scenery. There are the usual frustrating-to-key-in ciphered hints and at first glance they seem to be less useful than in the past. This may be a mistake, as Corruption is not an easy game to solve and without sensible help less than zealous players may falter on the wayside.

Corruption logo

Rainbird/Magnetic Scrolls
Price: £24.95

The new Magnetic Scrolls adventure, due to hit your local computer stores within a few weeks from now, will be very different from its three predecessors. Set in the real world of today's Stock Exchange, you'll find no wizards or dragons, no guardians, and not even a single subterranean labyrinth to explore. Instead, the victim of a frame-up, you'll be out to save your own skin in a world of intrigue and corruption. In fact, Corruption is the name of the game.

There are only 50 locations in Corruption, and about 28 graphics. You might think graphics reflecting a world of offices and City locations might be a bit drab and uninteresting - Anita Sinclair certainly did, and was dreading the outcome. They spent a good deal 'swanning around London in search of suitable location shots to hand over to the artists. Alan Hunisett and Richard Selby, were not too keen on the subject pictorially, it seems, but have turned out what Anita now feels are the best Scrolls' graphics to date. A new departure is the inclusion of a few 'situation' graphics.

Corruption concerns insider dealing on the Stock Exchange, in which you become the chief suspect. A newly appointed partner in a firm of brokers, you find yourself in your new office on the first day of your job, being welcomed by David Rogers, the senior partner. Leaving you to settle in, he disappears, and it soon becomes apparent that he is up to no good. But you don't realise quite what it is, until the long arm of the law is clamped firmly on your shoulder, and you end up in the dock.

The first time you play the game, you won't be able to save yourself. To achieve this, you have to play it through a few times, watching people, talking to them, and gathering evidence to clear your name.

There are about 30 characters in Corruption, and you can interact with about 15 of them. Some of those you will early on in the proceedings, are Margaret, your secretary, Hughes, the company lawyer, Theresa, David's secretary, and Barbera, the cleaning lady.

During the game they al go about their daily business - that is to say, you will find them at different places, doing different things, at different times of the day. One move on the computer moves the time, displayed at the top of the screen, one minute forward. As you come into contact with them, it pays to determine their attitudes towards each other, and their opinions about other characters.

The form of speech is limited to asking someone or telling someone about something. Depending on its relevance to the plot, you either get a reaction of information that will help you, or else a catch-all answer, something that is fairly sensible in context, but not terribly helpful.

A very useful command in the game is FOLLOW. If you are tracking someone's movements, FOLLOW followed by a series of RETURNs, keeps you in the same location as the character under observation as he or she moves from place to place. By building up a picture of people's movements, and finding key documents and a few other objects, you eventually get a pretty good idea of how the frame is being set up.

From then on you have to devise a way to thwart it - not an easy task, for it seems there are enemies everywhere. However, you might find you have some unexpected friends, if you've done your groundwork thoroughly.
To successfully complete the game, you must be thoroughly mean and unscrupulous - or so I'm told.

Rob Steggles, author of The Pawn, has spent most of the past year writing Corruption. But both he and Anita Sinclair are very concerned that people don't rush out and buy Corruption purely because they enjoyed Magnetic Scrolls' last adventure, Jinxter. "Jinxter was a very humorous game, with manipulative type problems. It doesn't follow that if you enjoyed Jinxter, or even Guild, you will enjoy Corruption.

The last thing Magnetic Scrolls want is for gamers to spend their money and be disappointed. They see Corruption having a limited appeal amongst their traditional fans, and possibly a much wider following among business users of computers. Having said that, it doesn't necessarily mean that you won't like the game.

Rob's enthusiasm for Corruption shows through. "It's a completely different type of adventure," he explained, "and Hugh has worked wonders making it possible." Hugh wrote, and continues to be responsible for Magnetic Scrolls' parser.

Since the Scrolls' parser already shares a top-of-the-league position with Infocom, one might have expected Hugh's day to day parsing activities to have been confined to the continual process of maintenance and marginal improvements. However, to see why he has been so heavily involved, it is necessary to understand the implications behind the different nature of Corruption, compared with other Magnetic Scrolls titles.

Corruption logo

Magnetic Scrolls/Rainbird, £24.95 (Amiga)

The name Magnetic Scrolls is on all adventurous lips of late. It seems that every column one turns to is paying homage to Anita Sinclair and Co. This is no bad thing as the company is one of the best in its field. However, it does accentuate the lack of new adventure software currently being released.

Like starving dogs grabbing at a piece of bone some kindly person has tossed their way, adventure-hungry people will snap up Magnetic Scrolls' latest game.

Corruption - a deviation from the standard adventure scenario - is made up fraud, deceit and sabotage. Taking the part of Derek Rogers you begin your first day as a new partner to David Rogers. The office you're given is nothing to write home about, comprising of tatty furniture and a musty atmosphere.

As he shows you round, David senses your disapproval but says nothing. Telling you to feel free to ask him anything, he leaves you alone to settle in; your office adjoins that of your secretary's through which is accessed the all-important corridor.

Exploration of the office building reveals a non-functional lift, a reception area, boardroom, dealings room and the accountant's office. Most areas are occupied by characters with which interaction is recommended. Barbara, the cleaning lady, invites suspicion as she wanders freely around the building but rarely seems to actually clean anything.

The accountant is only too happy to talk and answer your questions as long as David Rogers is not in the room. Your own secretary is a bit of a school ma'am - prim, proper and efficient - unlike David's who is a stereotype dumb blonde. David himself is always rushing off somewhere - and why does his secretary take early lunches?

Outside - a map for which is provided with the packaging - is your favorite restaurant where you have a lunch appointment with your wife, Jenny. Across the busy (and potentially deadly) road is the park inhabited by a tramp, whose actions are odd to say the least.

The police station is nearby, a place which may be best avoided until you have a clearer picture of what is going on - and while you're out, why not poop into the local chemists and maybe buy something for the weekend?

Corruption is the kind of game one has to play again and again to get anywhere. Basically THEY are out to get you and gain information at any cost - being in the right place at the right time is a must. This may only be achieved by playing various stages of the game in different ways to discover who goes where to do what and why.

This is Rob Steggles' second game for Magnetic Scrolls (his first being The Pawn) and he is reported to be very interested in public reaction as the plot is not a typical adventure storyline.

The mechanics of Corruption are of the now-expected high standard, complete with beautifully detailed graphics which are great to look at but contradict the text. Characters and objects which are no longer described as present in the current location remain on the screen in the graphics window. This is incredibly niggly of me to mention but I did find the picture content odd.

The parser is at least as effective as in other Magnetic Scrolls adventures, although communication with characters is limited to asking or telling them about something or someone. The packaging comes complete with a casino chip (wow), Filofax-style notes and map and an audio cassette tape which requires your attention at certain points in the game.

Corruption may not appeal to hardened sword-wielding swash bucklers, but nonetheless I recommend it to all.