ALTHOUGH the outlying areas of the galaxy had been colonised, travel between the central regions and the suburbs was a lengthy process, sometimes taking up to 50 light years. Thankfully the introduction of a new FTL (faster than light) communication system had largely cut the time it took the Post Office to send a first class letter from Fulchester, Earth to Uranus. It could now be done in just under an hour instead of two months. However, science still hasn’t devised a way of making sure your mail doesn’t get lost.
Still, everything was running smoothly. The government was jjust about to sell off a planet, which didn’t belong to them, for major redevelopment, and the Channel Tunnel was nearing completion.
While everybody was wondering whether now would be a good time to sell off their water shares, few noticed the huge amount of ships that had appeared on the horizon of the galaxy.
Rather good timing on their part, as the Americans had just finished scrapping their weapons. Many were now in museums, others scrapped, the rest bought by rich Arabs for their kids’ birthdays.
These spacecraft quickly spread themselves about the galaxy, watching, guarding every movement. No ship was allowed to enter or exit any planet, all attempts were met with death. Never was there any communique from the aliens. All efforts at establishing communications went without reply. A bit like BT.
While keeping watch, an alien vessel stumbled upon one of the remote relay stations of the FTL comms link. The aliens’ moves suggested that they would board the station in the near future. Something had to be done before communications around the galaxy were cut off for good.
Assuming control of an undamaged maintenance droid upon the station, you must guide it, obliterating any alien life form that happens your way. Control of the droid is via a remote link, while a birds-eye view of the station is provided by a number of sensors within its corridors.
The droid is made up of three independent sections, each having different capabilities. The three parts can be divided to provide three independent droids. Science programmers have made it possible for you to re-program each of the droids.
The station has four levels, each is equipped with machinery vital to the radio station’s function. Deck A has many storage lockers which contain important components that will aid any repair. Each section of the droid can be moved independently, but it’s no use moving only one at a time. If you are to do this job properly you must get the droids working simultaneously.
For this you will need to spend a bit of time programming a single droid. This involves detailing a route for it to travel and repairing faulty equipment that has been damaged by the alien intruders. Once the program is ready, run it and away it goes, performing the tasks you instructed it. If a programmed droid comes under attack it will not fight back and will eventually become disabled. Damaged droid sections can be picked up by others and taken back to be repaired.
First Contact is all about getting the upper hand, and keeping it. If you allow the aliens to get ahead, repositioning yourself as the leader in this long bbattle is going to be difficult.
One of the things which lets the game down is the fact that there is no scrolling, the screen simply flips, when you reach the edge. However, the graphics are good and very detailed.
Movement is well handled, right down to aliens jumping over fallen droids. As arcade strategy games go, this has got to be one of the better ones this year, though that isn’t saying much.