WELCOME to another adventure using the Freescape 3D environment, Dark Side, the successor to Driller, set 200 years later. It stars those enemies of the Evath, the Ketar, in another bid to destroy life as we know it. It all started with a probe passing over the dark side of the moon Tricuspid detecting a plexar just before being destroyed. A plexar is a giant construction designed to fire a high-energy particle beam at Evath, blowing it apart. It is fed by Energy Collection Devices - or ECDs - which resemble crystals atop poles.
Your mission is to destroy the plexar, but more immediately you must starve it of energy, thus slowing down the countdown to the time of firing.
As soon as you see an ECD, shoot it. If it is in a line of theirs it will re-charge immediately, so the devices aside it must be destroyed first. Other things to worry about are the Plexors, which are tank-like defenders, the slab-like power porters must be activated by hidden crystals.
You start in a sector of the moon guarded by a plexor and decorated by a few three-like constructions. Moving forwards in full 3D, the first objective is to avoid the plexor and penetrate the next sector where you can destroy an ECD. Come back then and enter a building which houses stores of shield and fuel materials. Getting into the building is easy since the demo mode shows you how to do it.
Although it feels like you are driving a tank, you are actually in a spacesuit and can look up and down, tilt the angle of perspective, even fire-up your jet pack. The trouble with these moments is that they are fairly laborious.
Movement forwards and backwards is relatively smooth and fast, sideways movement is very slow and jerky. Considering that only around half of the screen is used, this is disappointing.
The jet pack activated, take to the sky - or what passes for one - and zoom into buildings, down the corridors and round the constructions in search of crystals and ECDs. While some situations are familiar - corridors in buildings and surface features outdoors, for example - some of the features indoors are very strange and infuse a sense of something completely alien. Very unwelcome to the eye. Plus it is difficult to figure out what is what.
The sound effects are goodish, but there are not enough of them. You will soon tire of seeing and hearing the Plexar destroying Evath every time you blow your mission impossible.
Nevertheless, Dark Side is a challenging and worthy addition to the Freescape stable. It is slow and thought provoking and will certainly be welcomed by devotees of the 3D arcade adventure. But be warned, it is not everyone's cup of tea.