Cinemaware are a unique bunch of American programmers. Since 1987 they have been writing Amiga games to a brief of capturing the 'feel' of a film on a computer. In the past that has usually meant excellent graphics and soundtracks that have, sadly, been offset by a lack of gameplay and terribly frustrating amounts of disk swapping.
Recently though, Cinemaware seem to be nearing their goal - Rocket Ranger not only looked great but had some good gameplay - so have they finally got there with ICFTD? Well, things do not get off to a good start. Unless you have a Meg of memory at your disposal then do not even bother thinking about it. And it is also supplied on three disks, so unless you are also blessed with a second drive you still have to endure frustrating amounts of disk swapping.
The theme of the game is a tribute to the awful-but-great 'big bug' B-movies like Them! Tarantula and Black Scorpion. You play the part of an American geologist who is working in the town of Lizard Breath, in the middle of an American desert, for the last month or so since a meteorite fell on the outskirts of the town.
Being an intelligent chap (and because you have read the game manual) you realise the meteorite has caused a colony of ants to mutate to gigantic proportions and you also realise that in about 15 days time they will probably wander into town and have a party, thus ending Lizard Breath as we know it. Unless you can persuade the mayor to call out the National Guard who can then use tanks and jets to go blast the queen ant and destroy her nest.
Soon after starting, you will realise the game is a cross between a graphic adventure and an arcade adventure: you spend most of the time in adventure mode, interacting with the characters in the game and trying to find clues that will pinpoint the whereabouts of the nest, and gather evidence to show to the mayor.
Interacting with characters involves selecting responses from a list when certain situations arise, for example: there is a knock on the door, which do you choose - shout "Who's there?", ignore it, open the door or leave by the back door? Which you choose affects the way the whole game goes from there.
The arcade games include things like knife fights, flying an aeroplane and putting out fires, and though none of them are tough they add variety to the game. It is the outcome of these arcade games that determines whether you are injured and thus have to spend valuable time in hospital recuperating, or get closer to your goal (time really is tight - a minute game time is roughly equal to a second of real time - so there is even a Gauntlet-ish escape-from-hospital sub-game!). Will the gi-ants destroy Lizard Breath? Well, you are in the director's chair.
GRAPHICS AND SOUND
Every location is well drawn and all the arcade games are well animated and excellent looking. The sound is also good, though the tunes do tend to get a little repetitive. It really is almost like being at the movies on a Saturday night.
Winning the game is going to take a while, but once you have it is doubtful you will play again. It is not a game that will keep you satisfied for months.
This is the closest Cinemaware have come to producing their interactive movie. The whole feel and atmosphere of the subject material has been caught excellently and, unless you are playing with one drive, it moves along nicely. The arcade games are simple, but it is the adventuring side of things that really keeps you at it. Good stuff, but only if you have got the upgrades.