Humans 3: Evolution: Lost in Time logo AGA

Put Andy Smith in charge of small characters needing help and guidance and things are bound to fall apart...

Guide a bunch of small chaps (up to four) towards the exit on each level. And then do the same again on the next level. And so on and so forth. Our Cathy can't have ordinary cups of tea or coffee. She has to have special Rooibosch tea bags because she's allergic to ordinary tea or coffee. Or something. See how the rest of us take the little things for granted? Like good, cohesive gameplay.

Of course, each level is difficult and requires you to coordinate the actions of all the characters to get at least one of them to the exit. Coordinating their actions involves things like standing one on top of the other to reach platforms the characters otherwise can't reach. Or getting one of the characters to pick up a length of rope to allow the others to climb up to his level.

Freedom of Choice
Ben just doesn't drink tea or coffee. He could if he wanted to but just doesn't ever seem to want a cup when someone asks him. He's got the choice but just says no. You haven't got many choices when you're controlling your characters, but some are able to do things that others can't - the ninja for example can do a small flying drop-kick whereas the viking can't.

But none of the characters do anything until you tell them to do it. They just stand there otherwise.

Why don't I like this game very much? I normally really like puzzle games, so what's wrong with this one. For a start it's over fiddly. You have to be almost pixel perfect at times and there's nothing more annoying than having spent 10 minutes chopping and changing between characters while you manoeuvre them around the landscape, getting them right near the exit and then one of your chaps falls off a platform because you stood him too close to the edge. Grrr.

And the puzzles are too awkward. I'm not saying they're too tough, but they're not inventive - they just take an awful lot of tedious character manipulation to solve. And that makes the game tedious to play. Especially when you're up against the clock.

The gameplay experience is not one of 'hmmm, I have a cunning idea, let's try this...'It's much more of a 'damn now I've got to jump them all off the platform and get the bloke with the rope to pull them all up again. And again, and again'.

Sorry Gametek, this isn't much fun to play. It's certainly professional but that doesn't make up for the lack of excitement.



Knobeln ist menschlich

Humans 3: Evolution: Lost in Time logo AGA Amiga Joker Hit

Was Atari, Imagitec und Mirage einst in die Amiga-Welt riefen, hat die Evolution nun zu Gametek verschlagen: Exakt vier Jahre nach ihrem Debüt knobeln sich die putzigen Menschlein erneut durch die Geschichte, wobei diesmal exklusiv in AGA-Umgebungen gehüpft und gerätselt wird.

Gar Schröckliches hat sich zugetragen: Aliens haben sieben historisch bedeutende Persönlichkeiten aus unterschiedlichen Zeitepochen auf den Mond entführt und sie dort mit einer zerbröselten Zeitmaschine zurückgelassen. Der Spieler soll nun also deren Einzelteile zusammensuchen, wobei ihm pro Level drei bis vier Knuddelmännchen zur Verfügung stehen.

Wie beim Ahnherrn der Serie besteht die egeintliche Aufgabe darin, die zu Beginn kreuz und quer über den scrollenden Screen verteilten Sprites in Richtung des Ausgangstors zu lotsen - selbstverständlich unter Umgehung von am Weg installierten Fallen und Gegnern.

Anders als bei den prinzipiell sehr ähnlichen aber indirekt über Icons kommandierten "Lemmings" werden die Humans dazu jedoch wie bei einem konventionellen Jump 'n' Run direkt über die Leitern und Plattformen gelenkt.

Etwas Geschicklichkeit am Eingabegerät kann also nicht schaden, trotzdem kommen hier vor allem die Gehirnwindungen ins Rotieren. Und das um so mehr, als ein Trupp sich neuerdings nicht mehr nur aus identischen Neandertalern zusammensetzt; statt dessen sind sieben unterschiedlich befähigte Rassen aus verschiedensten Epochen mit von der Partie:

In den ersten der insgesamt 65 Stages ist die Zusammensetzung der Gruppe noch fix vorgegeben, später stellen sich dann aber alle sieben Figuren zur Wahl, und man darf sich die vier am besten geeigneten herauspicken. Je nach Örtlichkeit (Schloß, Wald, Pyramide etc.) und akuter Problemstellung muß diese Entscheidung anders ausfallen.

So eignet sich z.B. der bärenstarke Wikinger mit seinem Schild bestens also Blockade gegen Roboter, Ritter und andere Angreifer, während der chinesische Philosoph seine intellektuellen Stärken beim Benutzen diverser Schalter ausspielt und der Ägypter mit einem Sandtanz absackende Plattformen fixieren kann.

Der Höhlenmensch wiederum kann springen, eine Räuberleiter bilden oder sich abseilen wie alle seine Kollegen und verfügt sonst über keine herausragenden Fähigkeiten.

Von ganz anderem Kaliber sind da Robin Hood oder der Ninja, die sich mit Pfeilen bzw. Shurikens gezielt zur Wehr setzen - falls sie dergleichen im Gepäck haben. Der Magier ist auf solche Fundstücke nicht angewiesen, er verwandelt seine Kameraden statt dessen einfach vorübergehend in gerade benötigte Items; also etwa Flugbenzin fürs Jetpack, ein Gewehr oder Kletterseil.

Der Schlüssel zum Erfolg liegt somit im Teamwork bzw. dem Hin- und Herschalten zwischen den einzelnen Figuren. Wegen des Zeitlimits ist zudem Tempo wichtig.

Damit der Kampf gegen den allgemein recht hohen Schwierigkeitsgrad nicht von vornherein zum Scheitern verurteilt ist, haben die Programmierer einige Schwächen im Gamedesign der Vorgänger ausgemerzt.; beispielsweise den nervigen, weil pixelgenau getimten Speer- bzw. Stabhochsprung.

Außerdem genügt es ab sofort, pro Stage nur noch einen statt mehrerer Humanisten durch das Ausgangstor zu geleiten. Gleichzeitig wurde die Steuerung überarbeitet und unterstützt jetzt insbesondere die sechs Buttons eines CD32-Pads ganz hervorragend. Aber auch das brandneue Maus-Handling ist so gut gelungen, daß der ursprünglich Kombi-betrieb aus Stick und Tastatur bloß noch dritte Wahl ist.

Daß die Pausentaste am Pad zum sofortigen Spielabbruch führt, ist allerdings ebenso ärgerlich wie die unbequeme und in der Anleitung völlig falsch beschriebene HD-Installation von Hand (siehe dazu unsere Tips in der Extra-Box).

Ein Bug verhindert zudem das Abspeichern von Highscores bei abgeschalteter Begleitmusik, Systemabstürze sind zwar extrem selten, aber nicht ganz unmöglich, und daß im Titelmenü die Option "Animationen" stets deaktiviert bleibt, ist unerklärlich - es sei denn, sie wäre als reiner Platzhalter für Intro und Zwischenmovies der geplanten CD-Version gedacht.

Doch all diese kleinen Macken sind vergessen, sobald man sich auf das feine Gameplay eingelassen hat: In schick bunter, abwechslungsreicher und liebevoll animierter Grafik entfaltet sich eine vergleichsweise actionlastige Knobelei voller witziger Überraschungen.

So kann man etwa einen Elvis-Imitator treffen oder am integrierten Arcade-Automaten eine Runde prähistorisches "Space Invaders" zocken. Alles begleitet von gut hörbaren Musiktracks oder passenden Sound-FX.

Kurzum, Humans 3 bietet eine so ausgefeilte Kombination aus Puzzles und Plattformaction, daß der Hit trotz kleiner Technik-Schwächen allemal gerechtfertigt ist! (rl)


HILFE BEI HD-TROUBLE

Die HD-Installation klappt leider nicht wie in der Anleitung beschrieben, sondern nur von Hand. Dazu werden die Files aller vier Disketten in eine Schublade beliebiger Bezeichnung kopiert, in die anschließend folgendes (z.B. mit dem Systemeditor "Ed" erstelltes) Startskript im ANSI-Format abgelegt wird:

assign Evo1: ""
assign Evo2: ""
assign Evo3: ""
assign Evo4: ""
assign libs: ""libs add
evo1:intro_floppy.exe
evo1:c/memclear flush
evo1:Floppy_Evo.exe

Mit dem Shell-Kommando "Execute <Name des Startskripts>" läßt sich das Spiel dann von Festplatte starten.



Humans 3: Evolution: Lost in Time logo AGA

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the spirit saith.

I can scarcely bring myself to say it, but it is a dark and stormy night. The balmy summer's day I spent playing in the park with my family gave way to a cool, brooding evening which, in its turn, has become a turbulent, thundersome night. Flashes of jagged light streak the sky and a dark rumbling threatens to drown out the artfully produced mid-70s progressive rock sounds of Pink Floyd playing in the other room. It's no good. I might as well ask them to leave. A-ha-ha- ha. Ha-ha.

I've been playing Humans 3 a lot lately. Not because I've been addicted to it in any old fashioned computer gaming sort of way, but because I found myself almost completely unable to believe it and I've had to keep having 'just one more go' to make sure I hadn't dreamed it. I have not had a very good week.

Actually, the storm's getting pretty bad now. Just give me a minute and fit shut the patio doors and put some headphones on to drown out the noise. Much better.

Humans, as you might well recall, is a puzzle game very much in the same style as Lemmings. Humans 2. the sequel, seems to have passed pretty much unnoticed by everyone to whom I've spoken on the subject. And now there's a third one of it.

Here you have to take a band of, well, humans, from the bottom of a platformy thing to the top within a specified time. To assist you, each of the humans has different abilities, and it is only by means of co-operation (Big Bird would be so proud) that they are able safely to reach their goal. All is much as it was in Humans - The First One. except that here evolution has already taken place and the characters are a bit more varied.

There's a caveman and a Viking and a Chinese philosopher and Merlin and an Egyptian pharaoh and a ninja and Robin Hood. But not in that order. And you visit levels appropriate to the time and place of each of them as you progress through the game. If you can be bothered.

It all started to go wrong when I tried to follow the hard drive installation instructions in the manual. It all seemed very helpful and friendly until the point when I inserted Disk 1 and found that the required file wasn't there. Nor was it on Disk 2. Nor Disk 3. Disk 4, too, lacked installers. Pah. I had to play it from floppies.

It got worse. I'd been prepared to read installation instructions, but I was damned if I was going to plough through reams of tedious wibble to find out how to play a simple puzzle game. My idleness cost me, dear. I beg your pardon, I mean, 'My idleness cost me dear.' Dearly.

The control system is very fiddly and I wasted a great amount of time before going back to the manual to find out what I should be doing.

Ah, but back to the controls. I couldn't find my joypad so I opted to use the mouse instead (this turned out to be the only thing I could have done because the 'joypad' in question is the CD32 joypad and not, for instance, the Mega Drive joypad I prefer to use - although I could have configured the game for 'joystick' and then used the MD pad, but I'd have been sufficiently confused by this point that I'd have had to take a break and listen to some soothing music for a while).


I was damned if I was going

RRRRRUMBLE
While we're on the subject of listening to music, I must, since this is the last opportunity we'll have to speak, commend my headphones to you. They're AKG K240s and I bought them in 1980 for £48. It was a lot of money at the time but they're still producing a wonderfully rich, yet crisp, sound so I rather think it was money well spent. You can hear ev... Did you hear that? Was it on the CD or was it outside? Hang on, I'll go and have a look.

I'm sure it was nothing. There seem to be some strange shadows moving about down by the shed (perhaps we could get them to do a couple of choruses of Apache to lift our spirits - A-ha-ha-ha, ha-ha), but it's probably something to do with the lightning. And not, for instance, a Thuggee assassin inexplicably transported half-way round the world and 140 years forwards in time who has mistaken me for the handsome yet brutish Colonel Judd and intends to strangle me to death with the sturdy cable connected to my high quality Austrian headphones. No, that would be silly.

Once I'd found my way round the controls (lots of 'left click here, then move the pointer, right click there, move the pointer to the menu bar, right click again, no, left click, no, oh damn, he's fallen off and I'll have to start again'), I began to see lots of other things I didn't like. Here are some of them.

Pixel-perfect jumps are often required, sometimes to the extent that a character has to be positioned with his feet seemingly in mid-air. Beyond the first few 'familiarisation' levels you get a choice of humans to take on your mission. You may only take four, but you can choose from six or seven. And you have to choose them before you've seen the level.

And even when you're playing the level, there doesn't seem to be any way of finding out where your goal is. (In Lemmings, for instance, you see the whole puzzle, work out a strategy for solving it and try to implement it. Here you try to keep your characters together while moving them up the screen, but you never really know why.) And the time limits are preposterously short.

And if you get fed up with a level there's no way to skip it. There's no way back to the main menu to switch off the music or to swap from mouse control to joypad. Or anything. And the characters don't do any of their special actions unless they're facing left or right - in moments of idleness they face out of the screen and you can't do a damn thing with them. And it's infuriatingly fiddly to control. And all the sections of each of the seven worlds look broadly similar. And I hated it.

No, hang on, I definitely heard something that time - I'm sure that was the patio door sliding open. I'd better go and see wha...



Humans 3: Evolution: Lost in Time logo AGA

Price: £14.99 Publisher: Gametek 01753 531831

Neanderthal man is alive and well and he's in a game no-one even knew about.

In these lean times you'd think that any software company releasing a game would make a song and dance about it. Not so with Gametek. Their latest game Humans 3 appeared on the shelves without so much as a hint beforehand to the general public or the media.

It always makes me suspicious when a games company does this and in the light of the review here, it would be easy to draw the conclusion that Gametek might have suspected this latest release wouldn't be that well received by gaming magazines. However, the fact that it hasn't been released at full price might save it a bit. We'll see.

The big bang
The original Humans was released in 1992 and games veterans will know that Humans 3 was one of the first games to be released on the Atari Jaguar. The general consensus, at the time, was that it was just another Lemmings clone with nice graphics and similar puzzle type gameplay.

Humans 3 follows exactly the same concept as its predecessors. It's a puzzle platformer that contains platforms, ladders, nasty beasties and all the usual puzzles to frantically solve before the timer runs out on you.

The plot is fairly simple. You start off with three characters under your control: Arthur the Caveman, Merlin the Wizard and Thorgrim the Viking. The aim is to locate six pieces of the Time Machine which have been scattered to the four winds (if that's possible).

You can control each member of your team individually to achieve the main level goal and piece together the Time Machine. Each character has his own action icons and special abilities and when they co-operate they form a formidable trio of time travellers.

Under pressure
Life is precious in Humans 3. You have three continues which is fine, because you'll need 'em! The first levels are quite hard because as well as trying to solve the puzzles to get your humans to exist you've also got to keep an eye out for crazed androids and yellow blobby aliens that ravage you if you're caught.

It's a shame that you still can't save the game at any time, particularly when things are about to get tricky because this would have ensured Humans 3 has a better longevity than Humans 1 and 2. Once you advance down through the levels, you do receive codes which help you to complete or enter in for later games.

There are seven worlds to puzzle through: The MoonBase, Ancient Egypt, Ancient China, The Viking Era, Modern Japan, Sherwood Forest and Camelot. And each world has its own indigenous background which adds to the gameplay.

However, it all gets a bit too tedious, and indigenous background or not you're still left with a general feeling of sameness and boredom.

Why such harsh criticism? Well, apart from the tedium levels, the major problem is that everything moves so slowly and jerkily, meaning you never quite feel in control of your characters.

In Lemmings you can wait and strategically map your way across the platforms, altering your way to success accordingly. In Humans 3 you tend to find yourself blindly making decisions, leading you to instant death, falling off the paltforms, and all the while losing that precious time. This is frustrating. Personally, I'd rather go to playing Lemmings or Fury of the Furries.



Humans 3: Evolution: Lost in Time logo CD32

Aller guten Dinge sind bekanntlich drei, weshalb die Floppy-Version der dritten Actionstrategie um die Knobelwichte auch kürzlich mit dem Hit geadelt wurde. Doch Gameteks neuer Silber ist mal wieder kein Gold...

Obwohl inhaltlich kaum nennenswerte Unterschiede zu den mittlerweile vier Jahre alten Urmenschen von Atari, Imagitec und Mirage bestehen, vermochte die Mischung aus Plattform-Action und Logelei im Stil der "Lemmings" vor acht Wochen auch in der Drittauflage noch zu fesseln - nicht zuletzt dank ihrer hübsch bunten AGA-Grafik. Um so ärgerlich, daß Gametek bei der Versilberung geschlampt hat!

Doch dazu kommen wir noch zunächst soll Grundsätzliches abgehakt werden: Der Spieler befehligt ein drei bis vier Mann starkes Team, von dessen kreuz und quer über den scrollenden Screen verteilten Mitgliedern zumindest eines durch das Ausgangstor des jeweiligen Levels gelotst muß.

Der Trupp ist in den ersten der insgesamt 65 Spielstufen noch fix vorgegeben, später darf man ihn aus sieben unterschiedlich befähigten Rassen selbst zusammenstellen. Um mit den Gegnern und Fallen fertigzuwerden, kann etwa der Waldläufer zu Pfeil und Bogen greifen, ein bärenstarker Wikinger seinen Schild schwingen oder ein Ninja fernöstliche Kampfkunst anwenden.

Der Magier wiederum braucht nur den passenden Trunk zu finden, um seine Kameraden in Hämmer, Jetpacks oder anderes benötigte Werkzeug zu verwandeln. Laufen, hüpfen, Seile erklettern oder Räuberleitern bilden können freilich alle Humans, es ist also Teamwork gefragt: Wer die nicht eben einfachen Aufgaben meistern will, mu65 Spielstufen noch fix vorgegeben, später darf man ihn aus sieben unterschiedlich befähigten innerhalb des Zeitlimits clever zwischen den jeweils richtigen Figuren hin und her schalten.

Im Vergleich mit den Vorgängern wurden Schwächen (wie z.B. der unsägliche Stabhochsprung) ausgemerzt, die Steuerung überarbeitet und brandneue Grafiksets wie Schloß, Wald, Ägypten oder China eingebaut. Via Joypad klappt die Kommandovergabe denn auch bestens, doch verlangt der Betrieb am AGA-Rechner entgegen den Packungs-hinweisen zumindest nach einer kleinen Speichererweiterung, und die feine CD-Begleitmusik will nur am CD32, aber keinesfalls gemeinsam mit dem Sound-FX erklingen.

Wer letztere im Optionsmenu anwählt, wird zudem mit ständigem Gebimmel bestraft, wodurch Compi-Strategen entweder den Ton abstellen müssen oder gleich zur Floppy-Version greifen. Dann entgeht ihnen zwar das CD-exklusive Zeichentrick-Intro, doch ist es um den tonlosen, extrem kindischen und dummerweise nur pe Maus, nicht aber via Pad-Button abbrechbaren Vorspann ohnehin nicht allzu Schade.

Fazit: Wieder einmal wurden Schiller-Amigos mit der technisch unzulänglichen Umsetzung eines ansonsten ausgefeilten Gameplays bestraft - wann werden die Hersteller endlich diesen Irrweg aufgeben? (rl)