Driller logo

Price: £24.95

Since it was first conceived, Driller was wowed as the step forward in the direction of the game of the future. Claims of incredible realism and fast, smooth filled vector graphics made the world and his mother sit up and listen. Then the game was released. To be fair, the Spectrum version was pretty hot, but the C64 version left a lot to be desired. Finally, the Amiga version has appeared, and judging by the recent 3D competition to hit the 16-bit market (Carrier Command, Starglider 2), it had to be something pretty devastating.

For those of you who do not already know, the basic idea behind Driller is that the moon of Mitral (a moon of Evath, a recently human-colonised planet) is in danger of exploding, blowing Evath completely out of orbit and killing lots of Evathians. The reason for the moon's sudden liking to go bang is due to small pockets of gas trapped beneath the surface, which are now turning into big pockets of gas. You have to get up to Mitral and position a rig on each of the moon's 18 faces, the ultimate aim being to release at least 50% of the gas pressure on each one.

On each plane there are clues as to where you have to position a drilling rig. On the first screen, there is a big cross on the ground, so no prizes for guessing where that one goes. On later sections you have to shoot an object or change something to find out where the rig goes.

But does Driller take advantage of the Amiga's superfast graphics capabilities and wide choice of colours? Does it stretch the machine to its limits? The answers are, in corresponding order, no, no and no. The only differences I can find between this and the 64 version is that this version is faster and the vectors are finer. When I say faster, it is still only about the same speed as Mercenary on the 64, with the same vector graphics system. By that I mean that it uses straight, vanishing point vectors rather than curved vectors, which give it a flat look and very little feeling of distance.

Sound is nothing above average. The same old usual blasting noises coupled with a hum here and there.

It is a shame, really. Driller could have been such a good game, had the programmers tried to write it for the Amiga and not done a simple conversion of all the other formats. After all, who wants a Spectrum game on their Amiga?

Driller logo

Incentive, Amiga £24.95 disk

Let us jump across the space-time continuum to the distant future when the beauty of Earth is just a memory. The lost vestiges of humanity left their dying world co colonise the planet Evath, where their governing bodies invoked a draconian judicial system which produced the Ketars.

Though sounding like something you would combat with nasal spray, the Kerats were criminals banished from Evath to Mitral, one of its moons. In their struggle to survive, the Ketars began mining for gas, but not having any mining experience, their efforts resulted in the destabilisation of gas pockets which began leaking their explosive contents up to the moon's surface. Realising the imminent danger, the Ketars decide to secretly evacuate to an uncolonised continent on Evath, leaving their automatic defence systems active.

What the Ketars didn't realise was that their misguided mining had left Mitral in imminent danger of exploding as the pressure of escaping gas built up. Of course, this would spell disaster for Evath and anyone living on it -Ker boom!

When the Evath authorities realised the threat they sent one man to Mitral to position drilling platforms over the gas pockets and burn off the gas harmlessly. It's up to you pilot a probe vehicle around Mitral's 18 sectors using whatever resources and clues you can find in the Ketar structures to locate and vent the gas pockets, while simultaneously avoiding or destroying the moon's automatic defence systems.

Your 3D view of the proceedings is from behind the controls of the probe, the cabin which can move to adopt a wide variety of viewing angles. The probe is equipped with an energy shield which absorbs hits form laser defences or collisions with obstacles. This and the probe's energy supplies are restocked by shooting pyramidal Rubicon crystals. If your shield or energy runs out, the mission comes to an end and you are awarded a score based on any items shot and the accuracy of your drilling.

Gordon Houghton Well, I'd disagree with Paul and Kati on this one, since I felt a lot more could have been made of the Amiga conversion. With games like Starglider 2 around, fast moving 3D just isn't enough to guarantee an instant Sizzler for me. Call me miserable ('you're miserable!'), but I felt that the landscapes should have made more detail and the gameplay could have been tweaked a bit to produce more, long-lasting puzzles. Still, I'm just griping because this isn't the brilliant atmospheric experience the 64 version was (for a start, there was no music on our copy). Lovers of the original should definitely check it out.
Kati Hamza Anyone who disliked the C64 version because of the lack of speed should definitely take a look a the Amiga Driller. The amount of possible viewing angles is all the more amazing because of the complexity and variety in the graphics - they may look a bit plain form the screenshots but they take on a life of their own when moving. I loved the way you could just wander about and explore - there's an incredible feeling of being on a different world... The next games in the series should be even better! Until then, ignore our grouchbag editor and add Driller to your collection.
Paul Glancey Although I was happy to hail the arrival of the original 64 version of Driller as the best 3D experience since Mercenary, the speed problem always put me off playing the game as much as I would have liked to. Now here's the Amiga version, with no such problem - and I just can't stop playing it! It's just so well presented, and although there are a load of keyboard controls, you hardly need bother learning them all because the comfortable icon control system takes care of just about everything you need. The levels of detail the programmers have gone into is remarkable - right down to a little VU meter on the control panel and the three switch self-destruct mechanism for absorbing the game. My only complaint is there's no soundtrack as there was on the 64 version. Apart from this, I can't see any reason why you wouldn't invest £25 in this.