Eco Phantoms could be called the world's first zeppelin simulator. On return to earth, after a long space voyage, the planet is found in the hands of a strange race of mineral pirates who are bleeding the earth dry. Having stolen one of their ships you must try and stop them and ultimately reverse the process.
The game is almost a flight sim, nearly an adventure game but most definitely a test of management skills. But effectively it's all three, as you pilot the Eco zeppelin around the gullies left by the Eco Phantom's mining. As well as the flying and fighting, there are a number of tasks that must be completed in conjunction with different parts of the ship. This will keep it running and enable you to fulfill your vengeful cause.
The game is initially off-putting because it is so alien. You've taken over another species ship so all the controls are suited to them and not humans. So the manual must be read, and tentative forays made into the gullies of Africa (the first of the three locations you attack) before you start playing properly.
The whole game is matter of mapping your trail through the ruins of the planet, while swapping back to the various control panels and rooms within the ship to either raid for supplied or fix malfunctions. This means the game is never fast, but is intense.
If there are no ships whizzing all over the screen to dazzle the eyes then there has to be compensation. Here it is the depth and weirdness of the whole game. The ship is truly alien, and instead of the standard black and silver of starships, browns and greens are the norm. This gives the whole affair a Jules Verne flavour which is a welcome change.
Eco Phantoms will not appeal to all games players, only grabbing those with a dedicated, strategic mind. Shoot out specialists will ahte it. There is shooting action with the robots and in the gullies, but that is not its main appeal, that is down to planning, mapping and thoroughness.