Classic RPG finally hits the Amiga

Megatraveller 1 logo

Publisher: Empire Software Price: £00.00

The world's most popular and longest-running science fiction role playing game (RPG) has at last crossed the silicon divide, and it was well worth the wait. MegaTraveller is undoubtedly the best ever computer RPG and has added a whole new dimension to what was an otherwise badly flagging genre.

The game achieves a commendable balance of playability and depth, such that although players of the original paper-and-pencil game will immediately feel at home with its faithfulness to the spirit of Traveller. Players unfamiliar with RPGS will find MT1 easy and rewarding to play.

The first step in any RPG is character generation, and it's this dice-throwing hell which so often detracts from the instant playability of computer RPGs. In MT1, however, the process is quick and painless.
Players are given a set of physical and mental attributes which they can accept or 're-roll' as they please. Once a suitable set of figures is reached, the bare character is enlisted in the Marines, Navy, Army, Scouts, or Merchants to serve a four year term.

If the character survives the term without injury or death, a number of skills are awarded according to whether the character was promoted or served on special duty, and the player chooses which list of skills to roll on for the particular skill.
The skills available depend on which service the character enlisted in, so individual characters can be generated quite easily. After the initial term, a character can re-enlist in order to obtain more skills until death, old age, or retirement forces him or her to quit. The player therefore has to balance the advantages of extra experience against the physical effects of aging.

Character generation is one area in which Empire have stayed very close to the original rules, allowing full characters to be developed, but the whole process for a party of five can still be over in ten minutes or less, allowing the player to concentrate on playing the game itself.

The action opens in typical fashion. The group is approached in a dingy spaceport bar by a woman identifying herself as an agent of one of the powerful megacorporations. She has uncovered a plot led by Konrad Kiefer to destabilise the Imperium, of which the player is a citizen, and allows the rival Zhodani Consulate to overrun and conquer it.
To thwart the traitor Kiefer, the group must raise the two million credits necessary to equip their star-ship, the Interloper, with a Jump Drive capable of reaching the Boughene system, where another agent is awaiting the vital information entrusted to them. The marvelous thing about MT1 is that the way in which a player raises the cash is entirely his or her own decision.

Unlike other games, whose gameplay consists in the player discovering the correct solution, MT1 allows the player the freedom to do anything he or she wishes in pursuit of the objective. If you have a group with extremely good combat skills, for instance, you might try to fight your way to riches, killing and robbing everyone you meet. You might decide to hunt down the ten or so dangerous criminals for the extravagant bounty on their heads, or hoist the Jolly Roger and prey on defenseless space traders.

If, on the other hand, your group has good vice or interpersonal skills, you could try your hand at smuggling and forgery, or gamble your vacc suit away in the casinos.

You can even, if you have high trader skills, attempt to ply the interstellar shipping lanes for profit, just as in the classic trade-em-up Elite, which incidentally was inspired by the original Traveller RPG. Just about anything is possible, and when you discover that many of the individuals you meet will pay highly for particular items or for the return of, for example, a stolen family heirloom, a wealth of sub-plots opens up before the delighted player the like of which you will find in no other computer RPG.

During my first session of play, I found myself looking for a man who would buy a bronze sculpture from me at a decent price, and ended up knee deep in the swamps shooting alien lizards because their hides fetched 800 credits in the local bar.

I only later realized that it cost more in ammunition to kill the tough beasts than I could recoup for their skins, so I gave up in disgust and robbed a few rooms in the local Starfarer's Rest (a sort of omnipresent galactic Holiday Inn) to make up my losses. In the act of burglary, I happened across a bag of emeralds, which if my memory served me right would fetch a high price on the planet Efate. I had, unfortunately, just left that planet in alarm at the number of assassins who seemed intent on collecting the contract put out on the group by Kiefer and Co.

The group was in a rather embarrassing cash flow situation, however, so was I forced to run the risk of a bullet in the back to seek out the emerald dealer.

I located the fellow in the museum on Efate, only to discover I had the wrong man, though he did offer to pay handsomely for any diamonds I found. I consoled myself with the fact that we received some interesting information on steel prices in the Menorb system, but I feel Mitzy, our only casualty before we managed to evade the assassins, would have rather we'd stayed in the swamps...

Get the picture? This game is huge, and the universe through which the group adventures is extensive enough to keep you going for months. When you think that Paragon Software, who actually coded the game, are hard at work on MT2, it's not hard to see MegaTraveller setting entirely new standards for computer RPGs.

Gameplay is intensely friendly. Everything can be accomplished with nothing more than the mouse - there-s no need to type or use control keys. You move the group in real by pointing to where you'd like it to go on the scrolling overhead map and holding down the button to keep them moving.

Once combat is initiated, the group is broken up into its five individual members, who can then be given their own orders on what to do, where to go, and who to shoot at, which they'll continue to do until the fighting ends or they are otherwise instructed.

Interaction with other characters is simply and effectively carried out with the aid of a choice of options on whether to buy, sell, talk, bribe, and so on, and is more or less at the right level of complexity. The personality of such computer-controlled characters is necessarily shallow because of the restrictions of the medium, but MT1 still manages it better than most.

All I can say is that if you've ever played and enjoyed RPGs on paper or silicon, buy this game immediately - it's too good to miss. If you've never managed to get into games like this on your Amiga because they have previously been rather dull in their presentation and strait-jacketed in the way they play, MegaTraveller 1 could be the game that changes your mind. Either way, you'd be mad not to give it a try. If it doesn't rank as the best RPG/Adventure game of the year, I'm a Zhodani's uncle.


Megatraveller 1 logo

EMPIRE * £24.99 * Mouse and keyboard

Sometimes a game comes along that breaks the mould. There have been hundreds of games that use established techniques - scrolling shoot-em-ups, beat-em-ups, platform games and (more recently) 3D vector graphics. They often lack background and story line, the elements that form the basis of any game.

MegaTraveller 1: The Zhodani Conspiracy has an immense background. Set 5000 years in the future, the game is played through eight different star systems in a border area known as the Spinward Marches.

The Marches lie between the mighty Third Imperium (the good guys) and the Zhodani Consulate (boo, hiss). To date there have been four bloody wares between these states, always started by the Zhodani and always ending ina stalemate. This time they've changed their tactics... They have financed rebel insurgents inside the Imperium. With Imperial forces tied down and spread thin on many worlds, the Zhodani hope for a rapid conquest.

The only wat to stop this happening is to gain the key to the computer records of the conspiracy, and hand the information to the proper authorities. Then you've got the job of apprehending the head of the conspiracy - a powerful business executive called Konrad Kiefer,

Designer players
Before you get down to saving the Spinward Marches, you must first create the right team for the job. MegaTraveller is a role-playing game - that is, rather than playing a preset hero, you design your own. Up to five characters can be used in the same party who stick together through thick and thin.

A set of dice are rolled to determine the basic statistics: these are strength, dexterity, endurance, intelligence, education and social status. If you don't like the rolls, click the mouse and a new set appears.

A character starts life at 18, and can try and enlist any of five services - army, navy, marines, merchants and scouts. Every four years, a character is assessed and skills can be learned. Skills are used for most things in the game - from knowing how to use a sub-machine-gun to talking posh (liaison) or common (streetwise).

After so many years in the service, the character either gets thrown out or retires. Long service is rewarded with a monthly pension, and you can also muster other benefits like a weapon, vacuum suit etc.

Game on
It all starts in a bar on the planet Efate. The party is discussing ways to make a fortune, when Lenera Raclor bursts in and tells you the plot. She also gives you the conspiracy's plans on a computer hologram, one of the decoding keys to make it readable, and half an Imperial seal (to identity you to the next contact). She also gives you 30,000 credits in cash and the starship Interloper - what a nice girl.

Unfortunately she's been followed by a band of Kiefer's heavies. They take a good look at the scene before them and open fire - time to run away quick. When you get to the starport you discover to get to the planet Bourghene (where your next contact is) means traveling further than the ship can go at one time. The main obstacle is earning two million credits to buy a big jump drive, to jump the distance so that the main game can continue.

Playing takes some getting used to - if you don't read the large manual the party will get blown away quickly. All you o is point and click the mouse where you want to go, and the party (displayed as a single character - the one in front) walk towards it.

It's not just you running around all the planets (there are 28 places to go). Various other people wander about, and you can always go up and talk to them. Mostly they respond with "Greetings, Traveller" but occasionally you find someone who needs something done...

These 'sub plots' are what make the game. There are dozens of people to meet, many objects to find and sell for a profit, bad guys to kill - it's not just the Zhodani Conspiracy, it does actually play like 28 different planets. For instance, the planet Iroth is mostly water. You need to hire a boat to explore it properly - and you hear about a shipwreck. Exploring the shipwreck is hazardous because Iroth has a large population of blue lizards who just love to eat Travellers.

The bottom line
It's fun to explore and travel, but the graphics have obviously been ported from inferior computer straight onto the Amiga. In some cases they are very difficult to make out, such as the starships - sometimes you just can't work out which way they are pointing.

Having completed the game, I can honestly say it wasn't worth the bother. Once you have the two million credits for a jump-2 drive, the game is easy. The main plot consists of six conversations, swapping a few items, and blowing away Kiefer Konrad.

I'm disappointed, but Empire has stated it will be bringing out more MegaTraveller titles. Let's hope next time it manages to make it deeper and better looking. This could have been great.


I LOVE THIS GAME

The ground combat is excellent. You order the party to break, and they separate into give figures. Orders can be given to each character - this action is frozen until you've finished, and the combat is then played out. Selecting a character means that you can take over the firing yourself, leaving the rest of the party as backup. Blazing away with a PGMP12 or tossing bundles of grenades is just FUN!

The Selection of weapons is awesome - daggers, handguns, laser weapons, rifles and grenades are just the main categories. You want a bolt action rifle? How about an assault rifle, or perhpas a rocket launcher - lots of things to try out on the hordes of Kiefer Konrad.

The still graphics of the people you meet are good. Hivers, Aslan, Vargr, Droyne - the aliens look really alien, and the humans are hand-drawn individuals.

I can't think of any other role-playing game which has the depth and richness of what's going on. The Zhodani Conspiracy has many subtleties, for instance libraries where you can go and read common local knowledge of the planets, or the Traveller's AId Society which gives planetary information.

I HATE THIS GAME

Every time something moves on the screen, it jerks. All the moving graphics look small, blocky and quite pathetic. The scrolling is eyewatering, and all that the special effect is, to indicate a jump of billions of miles through space, is a red screen flash! State-of-the-art... I don't think.

Piloting the Interloper is best described as a very naff version of Asteroids. There are icons to click on for rotate left and right, thrust and break - but the graphics are so ill-defined that you just can't tell which way you're moving half the time.

Although the game bangs on about role-playing, characters have few needs and wants - they never eat or sleep. I know that plenty of games have features which humanise computer heroes - why not this one?

If you've a hard drive the game will go onto it, but the disk access could drive you insane. Every time you walk in a shop or a spaceship, the screen goes black and you're left waiting.

Why? Well, the manual states that the game will work on a 512K machine, but it doesn't - there's a big '1MB only' sticker on the front. I put the whole thing down to poor programming. I just hope that the next one takes full advantage of 1MB.


Megatraveller 1 logo

Rollenspieler werden am Amiga bestens bedient - sofern sie Fantasy-Fans sind! Das Angebot für SF-Liebhaber läßt sich dagegen an einer Hand abzählen, auch wenn gerade wieder ein Finger dazugekommen ist...

MegaTraveller beruht auf dem gleichnamigen (Live-) Rollenspielsystem von Marc Miller, das im Gegensatz zu "AD & D" (der Grundlage der SSI-Games) von Anfang an auf eine SF-Welt zugeschnitten war. Dank seiner einfachen Erlern- und Spielbarkeit mauserte sich MegaTraveller zu einem der erfolgreichsten Rollenspielsysteme überhaupt - und würde auch prompt für den PC umgesetzt. Jetzt schien den Jungs bei Empire die Zeit reif, auch uns Amigianer ins All zu schicken...

Und was finden wir dort anno Fünftausendundeinpaarzerquetschte? Nun, immerhin 28 zu erforschende Himmelskörper in acht verschiedenen Planetensystemen. Und natürlich die Zhodanis, so ziemlich das unangenehmste Völkchen seit dem Urknall! Der Oberbösewicht heißt Konrad Kiefer, und wer es schafft, Herrn Kiefer einen satten Schwinger auf's Kiefer zu verpassen, der dürfte der Lösung des Spiels schon ziemlich nahe sein.

Dazu muß aber erstmal eine schlagkräftige Mannschaft her; man darf sich fünf Recken mit unterschiedlicher Militärausbildung (Armee, Marine, etc.) zusammenstellen und je nach Eignung mit den verschiedensten Fertigkeiten versehen (70 Skills stehen zur Auswahl). Im Verlauf des Abenteuers sollen die Leutchen dann mit 30 Waffenarten und ebenso-vielen Handelsgütern umgehen: Raumschlachten müssen geführt werden, auf den Planeten kann man Spielkasinos besuchen, Handel treiben, Leute aushorchen, Ausrüstung einkaufen und vieles mehr.

Kritik-technisch bietet sich der Vergleich mit der Konkurrenz an: Nimmt man da beispielsweise "Buck Rogers", so macht bei MegaTraveller der Spielablauf einen etwas realistischeren Eindruck - soweit man das bei einem SF-Game sagen kann. Und das, obwohl die Benutzerführung (per Maus) hier deutlich einfacher gestrickt ist.

Dafür kämpft es sich mit MegaTraveller nicht ganz so abwechslungsreich und spannend wie weiland beim alten Buck. Optisch erinnert die Sache hingegen mehr an "Space Rogue", vor allem auf den Planetenoberflächen, die hier wie dort aus der Vogelperspektive gezeigt werden. Ansonsten folgt der Bildschirmaufbau dem üblichen Sichtfenster-Standard; die Grafik ist dabei durchaus sehenswert und sehr farbenprächtig.

Merkwürdig ist allerdings, daß recht oft nachgeladen wird - obwohl das Game nur mit einem Megabyte läuft!
Was den Sound betrifft, so wird das Intro zwar von einer netten Musik 1a la Star Wars begleitet, die Geräuschkulisse während des Spiels ist allerdings nicht sonderlich aufregend.

Und die Quintessenz? Wir können ohne Schamesröte im Gesicht verkünden, daß unser Universum wieder um ein wirklich brauchbares SF-Rollenspiel reicher ist! (mm)


Megatraveller 1 logo

The Dungeons & Dragons role-playing games have been converted to the Amiga countless times, but now the not-quite-as-famous Traveller makes the transition (and manages to get even better in the process).

When the classic space trading and battle game Elite was released in 1984, it caused a considerable furore amongst fans of the fantasy role-playing game Traveller. Almost all of Elite's strategy and trading elements, and indeed many of your spacecraft's add-on weapons, were, um, borrowed from the latter game, but Acornsoft (who originally released Elite) said it didn't matter because the two games were operating in completely different fields.

That's not much of a defense anymore though, as Marc Miller (the original designer of Traveller) has totally rewritten his original concept (hence the change of name), and revised it for computer conversion by Empire. MegaTraveller 1 plays not unlike a cross between Elite (surprise!) and Laser Squad, with the space travel and trading elements of the former coupled with an overhead-view maze-cum-arcade-adventure-cum-wargame section every time you land on a planet.

You control a group of up to five characters, any of which can be taken from a preset library of created yourself, using a variety of recruiting and training options. A realistic touch is that if you choose to train your characters they get older as training progresses and start to suffer from the effects of old age. This an be fun, and allows for some neat little effects, but if you can't be bothered with all this the game has a get-started-quick option which drops you straight onto the first planet with a basic (but still fairly useful) team of characters who you can improve as the game goes on. Even if you manage to get a few of them killed, you can always recruit new characters at many of the more advanced spaceports contained I the game, tailoring your party to your preferred game strategy by selecting characters from any of five basic career types (Army, Navy, Marines, Scouts or Merchants).

'Hang on', I hear you cry, 'what do you mean, 'preferred game strategy'? Well, I was just coming to that. One of the very best things about MegaTraveller 1 is the amount of freedom you have to conduct the game any way you like. You can recruit a gang of ex-Marines and make a living by blasting traders in space and pirating their cargo's, or be a simple Merchant band and accumulate wealth by good honest bartering. Alternatively you can train a character in gambling and stack up a fortune in the casinos that litter many of the more advanced planets, or use Scouts to search for hidden treasures in some of the more out-of-the-way corners of the galaxy.

If you're smart of course, you'll equip your party with a good mix of skills and be prepared for any eventuality. Even if you don't do that, you can still individually train characters in skills not related to their chosen profession, from a selection of dozens ranging from sub-machine gun use to carousing (Not sure what that is? Apparently 'the character is a sociable individual who enjoys meeting and mingling with strangers in unfamiliar surroundings'). Both of these skills can come in handy in crowded bars...

In addition to your chose manner of keeping the wolf from the door, you can earn extra money by performing certain tasks which will be given to you by characters you meet in some of the various on-planet establishments.

Scattered through the game are various shifty chappies who'll offer to by illegal (or illegally-obtained) goods from you, or pay you for running errands for them. You can use this cash to buy various artifacts, services and armaments from shops and spaceports, or if you prefer you can simply shoot passers-by in the street and loot their bodies. Beware of this tactic on planets with a high law rating though (all planets have their own characteristics, from technological advancement ratings to environmental conditions to government structure), as you may find yourself the target of the heavily-armed police departments, who shoot first and don't bother asking questions afterwards (because their targets are invariably lying in a smoking heap of charred flesh and melted spacesuit, of course).

But wait. I could fill a magazine with background and details from this game, and it still wouldn't tell you if it was any good or not. I guess it's time I got down to some serious analysis, and answered a few of the questions I've most frequently been asked about it myself.

Question 1 'Does it actually feel like Elite at all?'
Well, in many ways it does, but here there's much more emphasis on the mechanics of trading. It's got, ooh, I dunno, five times as much depth as Elite ever had.

Question 2. 'Isn't it likely to be really slow and dull and untidely programmed, as is usually the case with this kind of thing?'
No, not at all. It's as fast as it ever has to be, with the possible exception of the long disk-accessing when you take off or land at a spaceport. Presentation has had a lot of though put into it too - it's impossible to lose yourself in nested menus as so often happens with these games.

Question 3. 'Yes, but just how deep is it?
Well, if you took the Pacific Ocean, stacked another Pacific Ocean on top of it, and then attached two more Pacific Oceans to either end, it wouldn't be quite as deep as MegaTraveller 1.

Question 4. 'Is it completely and totally fantastic?
Yes, MegaTraveller 1 is involving, playable, superbly-designed, and one of the most atmospheric games I've played, ever. It balances realism with gameplay, and is extremely user-friendly (now that's a phrase I haven't heard in a while) in operation.

For example, at any stage of the game pressing the right mouse button returns you immediately to the previous menu, which in a game with as many options as this can be an invaluable aid to keeping track of what you're doing. Generally the user interface is practically invisible, which is exactly how it should be.

So where does that leave us? Well, with a game that really encourages you to play it. The attention to detail is almost breathtaking, and if there's been a game with more to do in it than this one, I haven't seen it. For once, content hasn't been at the expense of professional programming - MegaTraveller 1 is beautifully put together, and free of the kind of irritating bugs that hampered, say, Railroad Tycoon. This game is to Elite what Madonna is to Kylie Minogue.


SOME CHARACTERS IN MEGATRAVELLER 1
There are dozens of non-player characters scattered throughout the numerous worlds of MegaTraveller 1. Here are just a few of the ones you're likely to bump into early on.
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Hold it. Say cheese!
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Bet he eats at Squid-U-Like.
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Darth Vader here will purchase any reptilian hides you might acquire during your travels, straight cash, no questions asked, under the counter, know what I mean?
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A pleasant and charming individual who'll be delighted to sell you enough ex-military surplus hardware to decimate, ooh, at least a couple of fairly major civilisations.
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Kenny Roders couldn't hold a candle to this lad as a hard-nosed, hard-drinking gambling man, so don't venture into his den of vice, unless you're a well practiced bandit of the one-armed variety.
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Beauty and the Beast?
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Bat-Woman? (Surely not).
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This criminal-looking geezer will rent you various vehicles to help you reach those hard-to-get-to little places. Try not to smash them up too much though, or he'll take it out of your hide (i.e. your leather wallet).
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Now here's a friendly chap. Anythign you could want for a happy and fulfilling day-to-day existence he'll gladly give you, and all he asks in return is a little bit of hard currency. What a lovely person. Er, being.
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This attractive specimen is on the lookout for some coynes, and he doesn't care what they fell off the back of. You won't get the market price from him though, so if you came by any legally, steer clear.

Megatraveller 1 logo CU Amiga Screenstar

The Traveller table top RPG gave its players the chance to pilot huge space craft across the galaxy, lead the life of an intergalactic mercenary or just while away the days in a bar in Andromeda potshotting tourists with a Gauss Gun. The computer game holds true to its pen and paper original and should quickly establish itself as one of the best sci-fi role-playing games around.

First up is the party generator. Five characters have to be designed, enlisted in branches of military service to acquire skills, then equipped with weapons and amour. From there they find themselves in a bar on the Planet Efate, sipping whatever intergalactic mercenaries drink, when a woman bursts in and hands the party half an imperial seal and a hologram player. Hot on her heals is a group of heavily armed men who open fire on both her and the party. This dumps you straight in at the deep end:a fire fight.

All five characters are shown as one icon, which can be moved around a planet with the cursor keys, joystick or mouse. When combat starts the party is split inot its five component characters, which is where things can get a bit confusing. Combat takes place in real-time, so each character has to be told what to do at the start of a battle. They can reload their weapons, move, chuck a grenade or shoot. If they're facing a lot of bad guys their orders need to be constantly updated and unless you're really familiar with the control system this can often be a very complicated procedure.

During this brief encounter the heroes are informed that they've got to capture Konrad Kiefer, the boss of a backwater planet who's letting the Imperium's enemies use it as a base.

The variety of weapons are enough to make Saddam Hussein go weak at the knees. Pistols, machine guns, assault rifles, laser weapons, plasma guns and multiple rocket launchers make up the arsenal. Although lots of these weapons are banned on some planets they can still be smuggle through customs. For those on the receiving end there's a wide range of armour available, which starts with toughened leather jackets and ends with the almost indestructible Battle Dress.

By reading the manual you get a good idea of how big the game really is. It took me a long time to understand the basics of party movement and control. Once I had that licked it was onto the space section, which is also very complicated. Back to the manual again.

Part one of the mission involves earning enough cash to kit your ship out for a long hyperspace jump. To earn money you can resort to a life of crime. Mugging innocent people or turning your hand to space piracy can be very profitable, but this attracts interest from the authorities. There are 'nice' ways of making money. Trading can be profitable, as can bounty hunting. You can also go on missions set by NPCs, which usually require the recovery of a particular object.

In part two you have to track down and wipe out Kiefer. This is where your characters need to employ all their skills and equipment. The puzzles, traps and gun battle become more frequent and there isn't time to turn back to the manual.

If you're a fan of the Traveller RPG, or are prepared to sit down and learn how to play what is an absorbing and entertaining game, then this is a definite must.


MILITARY SERVICE
Marines are the real hard nuts of the galaxy, with a good knowledge of weapons and starship operations. The army is the easiest service to get into, and provides a huge array of weapons and survival skills. The Navy are really picky as to who they'll admit, but a naval officer is essential if you want a competent starship pilot in your party. Merchants are taught negotiating and language skills which is vital if you are basing your game strategy around trading. Finally, there are the scouts, the explorers of the game. There is no promotion system for scouts, instead they are taught a huge vareity of skills and receive excellent benefits when they leave the service.

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Empire's Megatraveller 1 is a role-playing game adapted from a popular board game. Sadly, Lord Paul Lakin was the slowest out of the office door, so he had to review it.

Megatraveller stars peacefully enough, with you sitting in a bar having a few drinks. From then on you're plunged into a vast world of danger, mystery and, above all, complication. Why complication? Because this is a vast role-playing strategy game - the sort loved and loathed in equal measure by different people. The scope of the game is immense. There are numerous worlds to explore and solar systems to navigate. Your quest is to locate the rebel Konrad Kiefer and foil his conspiracy with the evil Zhodanis.

Obviously, as a role-player, the game starts with a bit of character-creation. However, rather than just generating a few random characteristics, the character-creation section charts each character's military career. This adds some interest and individuality to the characters. It can also add to the frustration, since a character can die right at the end of the generation sequence.

Ah well, back to the drawing board. Assuming all your characters actually survive the creation process. It's time to wander and wonder - wander the streets and star systems and wonder just where the hell you are and where you're supposed to be going.

Megatraveller is a point and click style of game - mainly icon-controlled. But for shooting, walking, flying and the like, you use a cursor to point to where you want to shoot, walk or lob a grenade, However, on-screen action is not a main component of the game. This is a game of strategy, negotiation and even navigation. You'll be too busy thinking and plotting to worry about looking at pretty pictures.

Amiga reviewPaul: To be honest, I have very mixed feelings about role-playing games. Half of me thinks "Oh dear, another yawn-filled afternoon ahead of me - where did I leave the Pro Plus?" But I always have a sneaking suspicion that this time I'm going to enjoy it. The idea of a really engrossing RPG rather appeals - though I'd never confess that in the office, of course.

Megatraveller is not, however, the sort of game to appeal to the uncommitted. It's a careful and serious conversion of an immensely popular board game. Perhaps it's a little too careful and serious for its own good. A lot of attention has been paid to getting in all the rules and scenario, but this has been achieved at the price of atmosphere. It lacks any real hooks to draw you into it. The game gets better as it progresses, but there's little incentive to persevere that far.

For the non-committed the graphics will probably be too basic (particularly in space), while the sound effects are almost comical. Worse still, the combat system is irritating in the extreme. Fighting isn't so much exciting as frustrating. There's also a hell of a long loading wait between screens. The most farcical example of this was when I wandered into a space ship and unthinkingly clicked on 'Land'. Okay, so this was stupid since the ship was on land at the time. However, the screen went blank, accompanied by a lot of whirring and clanking. Some minutes later the screen came back with me next to the space ship. A lot of waiting around for nothing.

All this will matter little to people whose idea of combat is rolling dice and consulting logarithm tables. Which is why reviewing RPG games becomes almost pointless. Fans of the genre, particularly fans of the boardgame, will probably buy Megatraveller and be fairly satisfied with it. Those who regard RPG players as boring hippies who haven't grown up will see this as confirmation of their fears. A lot of scope but little charisma - definitely one for the dedicated specialist. Stop


TRAVEL GUIDE
Megatraveller 1: User interface explanation
  1. The members of your party - only five minutes gone and you're already three men down.
  2. You! Unless the party splits, one icon represents a whole group.
  3. This is just to remind you that purpley is the leader, so everything's his fault.
  4. At least one hospital has survived the attentions of the evil Wal-De Grave.
  5. A few control icons to... er, control your icon.