We come in peace - shoot to kill

First Contact logo

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.

Von Aliens, Robotern und anderen Langweilern...

First Contact logo

Nachdem bereits letztes Jahr die ST-Version von Rainbirds strategischer Alien-Hatz erschienen war, richteten sich alle Hoffnungen auf eine bessere Umsetzung für den Amiga - doch leider vergebens!

Der Kultstatus der "Alien"-Filme ist ungebrochen, ständig erscheinen Spiele, die dadurch inspiriert wurden – First Contact ist da nur ein Beispiel von vielen. Hier muß der Spieler eine Raumstation, die von den bösen Außerirdischen überfallen wurde, mit der tatkräftigen Hilfe von drei Robotern befreien.

Da man nur jeweils einen steuern kann, lassen sich die übrigen zwei für tausenderlei Aufgaben programmieren, die sie unterdessen selbstständig erledigen. Die Station besteht aus vier durch Teleporter verbundenen Stockwerken, die voll mit endlosen Gängen sind; zu sehen ist das Geschehen aus der Vogelperspektive.

Einfach ist das Game nicht, die Räumlichkeiten sind sehr komplex und außer Aliens-Abballern (ein Blick auf den Radar: ah, da iss‘ wieder einer!) darf man auch noch die verwaiste Station in Gang halten.

Die Grafik ist eher bescheiden, und von Scrolling halten die Programmierer bei Rainbird anscheinend auch nicht viel: es wird screenweise umgeschaltet. Sound ist fast Fehlanzeige – keine Musik und sehr spärliche FX. Die Steuerung ist auch nervig, die Blechkumpel lassen sich nur mit Mühe um die Kurve kriegen.

Im großen und ganzen wirkt die Sache wie ein mäßige "Paradroid"-Kopier, anders ausgedrückt: ein mittelprächtiges Ballerspiel mit strategischen Elementen. (mm)

First Contact logo

Price: £24.99

Did you know that in a few short millennia we will be prey to a mysterious alien race? Didn’t think so. Although this time the fate of our planet lies not in the hands of one man, but three droids. And of course it’s you who controls them.

First Contact is a strange mixture of arcade, strategy and programming. Arcade in that you control the droids which infest an alien space vessel. Strategy in that you work out the best way to defeat the aliens. And the programming comes in when you write short routines for your robots.

The space vessel in question is divided up into four distinct levels, each accessible through a system of teleporters. Although your aim is to rid the space station of aliens, you need to repair the damage they leave behind them. Patching up damaged computers and equipment is easy enough, but as the game progresses more and more aliens appear. Even though they’re unarmed they’ll reduce your energy just by touching a droid.

It’s easy to locate the recharge points, computers and other useful objects; but keeping track of the droids isn’t so simple. You can only direct one droid at a time, so should two be attacked you’re really in trouble.

I didn’t like this game at first, but after an hour I was hooked. Although First Contact does look like an arcade game it requires a lot more time and brainpower than your average defeat-the-aliens romp.

It’s worth getting into if you fancy exercising your brain as well as your trigger finger.