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This game requires a fair amount of imagination to play. You are the controller of a giant spaceship - the Starlight (or the Starflight, as it is called in the manual), which contains the last remnants of mankind - three million frozen colonists, 46 pilots who can be popped in the microwave for instant readiness, a few raw materials and a huge, great engine to power the whole lot.

Your mission is to find a new home for mankind to start again. With this motley collection, you have to build fighters and weapons to protect the Starlight, select who flies which fighter, and maintain the spaceship in good working order.

It's a much better idea to fight the bad guys at a distance rather than at close quarters and risk them damaging the mothership, because repairs consume lots of raw material and energy. If you run too low on either of these, the game automatically self-destructs and you have to start at the beginning again.

Collecting raw materials is a good idea, but it can be a better plan to create them in the Starlight laboratory, where you can discover new compounds. Mixing these is simple in theory, but beware that you can blow up your lab if you create a particularly explosive cocktail of components - uranium and plutonium should be left in the test tubes.

Industrial war
Producing new machines creates less obvious problems. You start off with three designs of fighter, blue, black and red. But actually getting them involves more than clicking on the relevant icon because you must have all the correct components first, which means you have to make the components before you can even think about working on your fighters.

At the start of the game, you can only build one unarmed fighter, and it takes time before you can upgrade to one that's armed. You can send the unarmed fighter asteroid mining, and when it comes back, you can build more. There's a fine line between getting what you need and trying to achieve the impossible - crossing that line means you've lost.

But what makes the game more than a management simulation are the encounters. Every so often, you come across an alien ship, planet or depot. You don't have to attack on sight - talking first is a good idea, but combat is inevitable with some of them.

The 3D space combat is truly terrible. The fighters go left and right easily enough, but pitching up and down is particularly slow and jerky. This element of the game doesn't work too well, but even if it did it wouldn't add a great deal to the gameplay.

Thumbs down
Well, that's it as far as the game goes, now on to the real gripes. The game comes on two disks, and insists of swapping between the flying sections and the main control menus. OK, you get used to it eventually, but that's no consolation if you have splashed out on a second drive. If you have 1.5Mb of extra memory, then disk swapping should be eliminated, but it wasn't on the A500 or A2000 that I tried it on. That's the trouble with Demonware games - they don't always work consistently on different Amigas.

The very worst thing about this game is the manual. For this sort of point and click game, you do need a decent manual. Supremacy, which was a similar game, had a brilliant manual, full of useful tutorials. What you get with Exodus is an incredibly thin, wibbly volume, which gives you a rough idea of what you have to do, but leaves incredible gaps as to how you actually do it. A couple of illustrations would be helpful.

I wouldn't pay £29.99 for such a poorly packaged (four sheets of A4, and a naff colour poster) and badly put together game, when there are better point-and-click strategy games, and even better 3D space games.



Exodus 3010 logo

Mein Opi hat immer gesagt: "In 1000 Jahren ist alles vorbei!". Doch erst anhand von Demonwares neuem Genremix aus Adventure, Strategie und Action ist mir klargeworden, wie recht mein Oheim doch hatte...

Denn im Jahre 3010 ist die Erde soweit unbewohnbar geworden, daß den Menschen nur noch die großangelegte Auswanderung bleibt! Wie gut, daß 500 Lichtjahre entfernt ein netter, bewohnter Planet entdeckt wurde. Also schickt man schleunigst ein gigantisches Raumschiff voller tiefgekühlter Kolonisten auf die Reise...

Als Kommandant der Starlight (so heißt die kosmische Arche) hat der Spieler nun dafür zu sorgen, daß die lange Fahrt trotz Rohstoffmangels gut über die Bühne geht. Zu diesem Zweck steht zuerst ein kleines Bestelstündchen am Programms, in dessen Verlauf man sich aus den (spärlichen) bordeigenen Materialien ein Beiboot zusammenzimmert. Nun noch schnell einen Siedler aufwecken und ihm 'ne Art Hypnoschulung verpassen - schon hat man auch den geeigneten Piloten!

Sobald dann draußen ein paar erzhaltige Brocken vorbeischweben, geht es ab in einen spektakulären Vektor-Kosmos à la "Elite".

Mit Maus, Stick oder Board wird der Mini-Flitzer an den kostbaren Meteoriten herangesteuert, ein Traktorstrahl schießt die Haken, nun muß er nur noch im Mutterschiff abgeliefert werden.

So kommt eine Menge nützlicher Werkstoffe zusammen, aus denen sich wie bei "Millennium 2.2" feine Sachen stricken lassen, etwa eine bessere Ausrüstung für das Beiboot - oder gar überhaupt eine zweites, drittes usw.

Insgesamt bietet es nämlich Platz für zehn Schifflein samt ihrer Piloten. Doch wird nicht nur gebaut, auch die Forschung fordert ihr Tribut: Im Labor dürfen nach Herzenslust Rohstoffe oder auch Fertigprodukte miteinander vermengt werden, vielleicht kommt ja sogar etwas Vernünftiges heraus. Vielleicht gibt es aber auch nur einen großen Knall!

Tja, und zwischendurch trifft man recht häufig auf die kuriosesten Aliens, die ihrerseits kleine, langsam schwieriger werdende Missionen verkörpern. Entweder müssen die Händler, Piraten oder sonstigen All-Bewohner nämlich abgeschossen, ausgeraubt (einsame Erz-Depots!), oder per Multiple Choice's bequatscht werden.

So ein Plauderstündchen kann sich als nützlich, des öfteren auch als haarsträubend komisch erweisen. Gekämpft wird natürlich mit den (hoffentlich bewaffneten) Beibooten, wobei die grafisch atemberaubenden Fights vom Rechner gesteuert werden, und zwar je nach den Schulungserfolgen der betreffenden Piloten.

Wer unbedingt will, kann aber auch einen der Jungs eigenhändig ins Gefecht führen.

Darüberhinaus besteht die Grafik hauptsächlich aus ein paar bunten Datenblätter-Menüs namens Labor, Piloten, usw. Dazu gesellen sich ein schöner Titelsound, realistische FX und vor allem eine sehr bequeme Benutzerführung (Maus). Wie würde also mein Opa sagen: "Komm an Bord, Junge!" (jn)



Exodus 3010 logo

It's by Demonware and not Leon Uris or Bob Marley at all.

This is the sort of game that always gets given to the freelancers. Tim (of the Tucker clan, that is) took one look at it and thought, "Hmm, space exploration game with lots of shipbuilding, material replenishing and engine maintenance - it's going to take months just to get through the manual. What sucker can I pass it to?" And look who was caught at the weak moment. (Ah, so it had nothing to do with those photos we threatened to publish? - Ed).

His assumption, though, wasn't completely correct. Sure, it takes an age to work out what the hell you're supposed to be doing, but not because the manual's size of the Hong Kong telephone directory, the exact opposite. In fact, it's thin to the point of non-existence, leaving it up to you to try and work out what the heck's going on largely by trial and error.

The game set-up is pretty complex. Basically you are the captain of a ship carrying the last remnants of mankind (who are in suspended animation) on a search for a new planet. For some reason you're hideously understocked on new materials, tools, fighter ships, everything.

This is a pity, as you're about to run into some very nasty aliens. Your task is to use the raw materials at your disposal to build ships and wake up suitable pilots so that they can fly out and find raw materials and other goodies. This could be as simple as picking up a silicon-packed meteor or as tricky as facing whole alien fleets.


You haven't got a clue what you're supposed to do

You start off in the main cockpit which has a scanner showing you other objects that appear in your vicinity and icons which you click on to take you to other sections. These are: the engine room - which can be damaged in battle and may need certain materials to be repaird; the laboratory - where you can combine raw elements to make new alloys; the production chamber - where ships are built; and the Equipment Room - which is just a hangar. You flit around between these areas building and arming and, erm, that's about it.

Things get more arcadey when you get outside the ship. The box describes these sequences as 3D action, but don't get too excited. All it means is that you can move up, down, left, right, forwards, and backwards, which might sound great, but because it requires both the keyboard and joystick in conjunction, you need three hands at least. (You can use a mouse, but it's a lot less accurate).

The graphics aren't exactly stunning either, just pixel stars and featureless ships.

The main fault with Exodus is that it's just too complicated, and too difficult (and not helped by the lack of a decent manual). Intuitive it ain't. It's all very plodding, and not helped by constant disk accessing. And since it doesn't recognise a second drive, the game is a bit of a nightmare unless you've got a hard drive.

It does have some attractive screens and the strategic elements - deciding what to make with the materials at your disposal - are mildly diverting. If you like devoting two hurs a night for half a year to solving a game Exodusmight appeal.


STARTING FROM BASICS
Exodus 3010
First pick your pilot. There are 46 from which to choose, and each has its own combination of aggression, prowess, flying and fighting skills. You have to thaw them out of suspended animation and up to 10 pilots can be defrosted at any time.
Exodus 3010
Next you have to build your ship. Talk about do it yourself! You might eve have to build some of the components. But if you don't have the raw materials, you're stuffed.
Exodus 3010
Arming your ship comes next. Oh, did I mention you have t build your own weapons as well. Back one stage if you haven't already. Then stick a pilot in the cockpit - they're dead useful.
Exodus 3010
And finally it's out into the great black yonder to do battle with neatly arranged geometric shapes. Oh, so that's what they meant by 3D. You can control up to 10 ships simultaneously (if you're a mutant octopod).


Exodus 3010 logo

Combining elements of Deuteros and Elite, Demonware's latest offering is a strange hybrid of gaming styles which puts you in control of a huge intergalactic spaceship.

The human race has fled the solar system and is desperately seeking a new safe haven. As commander of the Starlight, a gigantic vessel with more than three million cryo-genically frozen civilian on board, it's up to you to guide the ship to its new destination. An alien presence has been detected and it's a race against time to ready the ship's defences and save the day!

The game uses a simple point-and-click icon-driven interface which is easy to use, but allows quite complex commands to be handed out. There are approximately 100 missions to complete, ranging from picking up stray meteorites for their valuable ore content to intergalactic dog-fights against a squadron of alien attack craft.

To help you in your task, it's possible to 'defrost' a number of crack pilots from their sleep-like state and boost their aggression and piloting prowess by tinkering with their inate abilities.

Once you've assembled your crew, you need to prepare some ships and equip them with whatever might be necessary, such as laser batteries, force fields or photon missiles. Unfortunately, in an effort to save space, the mothership is only stocked with raw materials, so any armaments or equipment have to be specially ordered. It can take time to fulfill some orders, especially when there's a lack of certain materials, so it's best to plan ahead.

As the game progresses, you'll come into contact with friendly traders, war-like races and other intergalactic travelers. Each time combat takes place, pilots grow in experience and ability, and trading can provide valuable new materials for constructing bigger and better armaments.

The strategic flavour of the game is complemented by a 3D shoot 'em up section. Once a ship is sent into space, a player can chose to either let the computer control the action or opt to take manual control. Why Demonware felt the need for such an arcade sequence is beyond me - it just seems so out of place with the rest of the game.

Overall, I can't find much to fault with Exodus 3010. Conversely, I can't find much to commend it, either. The linear progression of missions restricts the freedom to explore the universe which Elite offered., and locks the player into performing some incredibly drab missions before undertaking some of the more dangerous ones in the later stages of the game.

There is a game in there somewhere, but it's hidden beneath an impenetrable layer of tedious and routine chores.