When Hell freezes over...

Midwinter 1 logo Amiga Computing Supreme Award

HOW will life of Earth end? The greenhouse effect? Toxic overload? Ozone layer depletion? War? Nuclear accident? Will human beings destroy their own planet? Not this time they won't. Fate beat them to it.
As poor old mankind was talking about thinking about possibly considering the option of perhaps maybe doing something to save the world, nature took the matter into her own hands.
First there was a streak of light in the sky, then the ground shook. The earth had been struck by a giant meteorite. Clouds of debris spread into the atmosphere, blocking out sunlight. Global temperatures plummeted. The climate of entire continents changed. Millions died.

For those who survived, for those who travelled towards the equator in search of warmth and food, the world was a very different place. The extinction of one more species took on a new importance when the one in question was Homo Sapiens.
But men knew how to adept, to change themselves if they couldn't change the planet. Small colonies emerged and stabilised, using the leftover technology to scrape a living from the fragile earth.

One such group established itself on the island known as Midwinter. Taking heat energy from the heart of the planet itself and growing crops using hydroponics, living conditions gradually improved from abysmal to tolerable.

The island was large and - relatively speaking - successful. The need for a policing force was minimal, but it was there. And not everyone agreed with who was running it.
One such man was General Masters. He saw Midwinter, and he wanted it for himself. So he decided to take it.

Your name? Well, you're John Stark. Your father was one of the first men to set foot on the island, and as head of the island police force, you're not going to stand by and watch the destruction of all he worked for.
You're not alone. There are others who feel the same. If you can convince them of the danger, they'll help.
All have their own strengths and weaknesses. Some can ski well, snipe, hang glide. Some can't. Between you, you have a job to do, 'cos there's no one else to do it. You'll have to guide the actions of each man and woman, turning from one to another as the need arises.

In between planning strategies, you'll need to play special action sequences. The graphics in these stages are constructed from solid polygons, which wouldn't be exceptionally interesting if they weren't light-sourced.

In the world of Midwinter the sun is always over the south east of the island, casting blue shadows over the snowfields. It is possible to navigate your way just by noting the colouration of the landscape.

As you ski from one outpost to another in search of volunteers, objects in the distance are blurred and indistinct. As you get closer they become more substantial. Shortly after this you either crash right into the darn things or ski around them. Fast and detailed, these sequences do more than just fill time, they're an integral part of the mission.

The playing area is the entire snow covered island of Midwinter. To try and store an internal model of this size directly would be madness. Instead it is constructed using fractal algorithms to generate a world as detailed as possible with a minimal amount of start data.
Zooming in on the map demonstrates this to great effect - as you get closer and closer the detail expands and improves. Switch the Relief option on and you could be looking at a digitised satellite picture. Very impressive indeed.

There is enough gameplay here to keep you playing for several weeks/several months (delete as the need for sleep deems applicable).
The plot is substantial, with a mini-telephone book of an instruction manual. For the less patient, there is a "get started quick" card which will have you on the piste in no time.

Midwinter is an important advent in computer programming. The Mike Singleton crowd have always produced innovative products, but this time they have surpassed themselves. Never has so much effort been spent on creating a new environment. It's not a game, it's a virtual reality. Be there.


Midwinter 1 logo Amiga Format Gold

RAINBIRD £24.99 * Mouse, Joystick or Keyboard

The year is 2099 AD. The world was devastated some 60 years previously when a strike from a massive meteorite affected the global climate and sent the world into a new Ice Age. Contintents collapsed, millions died and it was clear things would never be the same again.

Some thirty years ago a bunch of people discovered an ice-covered island and started settling the place. Life was far from easy, but by sinking heat mines it became bearable and the inhabitants of what became known as Midwinter Isle struggled on. It soon became apparent that Midwinter as the last habitable place on Earth and the leaders of the isle got together and formed the Free Villages Peace Force (FVPF), to ensure things stayed free and safe. New settelr who through luck or careful planning managed to find their way to Midwinter were welcomed and integrated into the island's system.

In the last few years, though, some of the newer members have become disgruntled with the lot. The leader of the FVPF, Captain John Stark, decided to let things ride... and disaster struck. A rebel army, led by General Masters, is now on the march and intent on taking over the whole island. You, as John Stark, must rally your forces and prepare to defend the island...

Midwinter is a one-player strategy game featuring light sourced 3D graphics and a game area of 160,000 scale square miles. There is a total of 32 characters in the game who can be rallied to your cause. To find out where these people are and where General Masters' armies are, a map can be called up at any time. Then the only problem to deal with is getting to them.

There are four methods of transport on the island: travelling from two fixed points in the cable car, hang-gliding from the top of high ground or - the two most common methods - in snowmobiles or on skis. Snowmobiles can only be picked up from settlements with a garage but you can ski anywhere. There are dangers to all methods of transport and it is highy likely you will take a tumble, but this is less serious when you are skiing than when you are hanggliding or driving a snowmobile.

After a hard journey, taking breaks to restore energy when necessary, you make it to your destination and put your case to anyone who will listen. If you are lucky you will gain a recruit. This is by no means guaranteed because, like any community, there are some people who will do favours for others and some who won't.

All those you do manage to recruit need to be controlled by you, though, and as the game is time based there are two watches to keep your eye. There is a team watch and a personal watch. You do not want to see 10 people sitting around doing nothing while you concentrate on one person, so every character has two hours of game time inw hich to act before watches need to be synchronised with the team watch and everyone's two-hour period starts again. For example, you send person A to a particular village to meet person B. Person C, meanwhile, goes to meet person D. You control A on his mission for two hours, then switch control to C for two hours. In effect you have controlled both, simultaneously, for the same two-hour period. After these two hours, A and C will be back on the same time, so watches can be synchronised and you can start again.

When the enemy are discovered they should be engaged. If you are travelling somewhere you can enter snipe mode when skiing or chuck some missiles at them fro your snowbike. At any rate, try to destroy as many of them as you can, but always remember that the enemy forces shoot back!

Rally your troops, destroy the enemy and when you are ready launch a counter-attack on the enemy HQ. Succeed and Midwinter Isle will once more be safe; take too long, though, or let the heat mines fall into enemy hands, and it is curtains for you and your people.

GRAPHICS AND SOUND

The sound effects are good, as are the graphics. Everything is well drawn and the 3D moves swiftly, although it can be difficult on occasion to judge the landscape when you are skiing or driving. Generally, the audio and visual effects are of a satisfyingly high standard.

LASTING INTEREST

This will take you absolutely ages to play: fortunately there is a game save option. Just trying to get started is tough, so you will really need to concentrate and use your resources to their best advantage to gain a victory. It is compulsive stuff, son ce you start you will enjoy every minute.

JUDGEMENT

Well, it has finally made it. Lords Of Midnight, the greatest ever game by Mike Singleton, author of Midwinter, has arrived on the Amiga, albeit under a different name and with a whole host of improvements and updates. Midwinter is the '90s LOM, a sugar coated wargame with the pace set at just the right level for the player not to realise he is playing such a complex strategy game. Midwinter is a superb game to play and a must for anyone who wants to immerse themselves in a thoroughly believable game world. Playing properly, i.e. allowing the enemy to have mortars and bombers, you will find this an excellent game. But not, there is aone way to complete the game extremely quickly. The quick route is a lot like cheating, so bear that in mind, but if you are prepared to play the game properly and win convincingly, you will enjoy it immensely.


Midwinter 1 logo Amiga Joker Hit

Lang erwartet und bereits mit viel Vorschußlorbeeren bedacht, ist das neue Strategie-Game von Raibird jetzt endlich in der Redaktion eingetrudelt. Begeben wir uns also, nicht ganz passend zur Jahreszeit, in eisige Gefilde...

Wir schreiben das Jahr 2099. Eine neue Eiszeit ist über die Erde hereingebrochen, nachdem sie von einem riesigen Meteoriten getroffen wurde. Zahlreiche Vulkane spucken Feuer und Rauch und verdunkeln so die ganze Atmosphäre. Mitten im Atlantischen Ozean ist eine neue Insel entstanden, die von den letzten Überbleibseln unseres ehedems stolzen Menschn-Geschlechts sinnigerweise "Midwinter" genannt wird.

Auf der verzweifelten Suche nach Nahrung und Energie besiedelt eine Gruppe Überlebender diese Insel und baut dort ein kleines Gemeinwesen auf. Alles ist ruhig und friedlich, bis eines Tages der machtgierige Ex-General Masters versucht, die Herrschaft über Midwinter an sich zu Reißen...

Spielziel ist es, General Masters Armee zu besiegen, um so den Frieden wiederherzustellen. Das Geschehen läuft dabei (fast) in Echtzeit ab; und das will schon etwas heißen, wenn man (anfangs ganz alleine) die riesige, schneebedeckte Landschaft auf der Suche nach Verbündeten durchstreift!

Als Fortbewegungsmittel sind zunächst nur Skier vorgesehen, und dementsprechend bekommt man die fraktalgenerierte 3D-Landschaft durch eine Skibrille zu sehen. In den verschiedenen Gebäuden (Kirchen, Tankstellen, Wohnhäuser, Radiostationen, Berghütten und dergleichen mehr) findet man Menschen, Material und Maschinen, die man für seine Aufgabe braucht.

Unter anderem gibt es dort mit Waffen gespickte Schneemobile, die das Fortkommen doch erheblich erleichtern. Außerdem lassen sich bis zu 32 Verbündete (jeder einzeln steuerbar!) anwerben, die alle ihre ganz individuellen Eigenarten, Fähigkeiten und Animositäten haben.

Eine große Übersichtskarte, die über eine höchst raffinierte Lupenfunktion verfügt, zeigt dem Spieler jede gewünschte Einzelheit. Die Karte kann nach einzelnen, beliebig kombinierbaren Kriterien abgefragt werden: so z.B. nach Garagen, die Sprit und Schneemobile enthalten. Schaltet man die Darstellung auf Relief-Modus um, lassen sich die Geländeunnebenheiten besonders gut erkennen.

Für Action-hungrige gibt es genügend Sequenzen, in denen sie sich als Heckenschützen, Drachenflieger (schwierig!) oder Bombenleger versuchen dürfen. Die verschiedenen Tätigkeiten werden über Icons angewählt, gesteuert wird wahlweise mit Tastatur, Joystick oder Maus. Einen Trainingsmodus gibt es auch, der zum Eingewöhnen nur wärmstens empfohlen werden kann. Sogar die Kampfstärke der Feindarmee ist einstellbar.

Zugegeben, anfangs war ich schon etwas mißtrauisch, denn wenn ein Spiel soviel Vorschußlorbeeren erhalten hat, ist man hinterher meist enttäuscht. Aber nach etlichen Thermoskannen Tee, vielen Zigaretten und einer durchgespielten Nacht war das Mißtrauen verflogen. Das Programm hält tatsächlich, was es verspricht: unglaublich komplex, sauber programmiert - einfach erste Sahne!

Nur ein Beispiel: Bei Midwinter ist nicht nur die Grafik, sondern sogar der (Stereo-) Sound funktional; konkret bedeutet das, daß man seine Gegner nicht unbedingt sehen muß, wenn man sie abschießen will - in den meisten Fällen genügt es, sich an den feindlichen Geräuschen zu orientieren, um ins Ziel zu treffen!

Rainbird ist es wirklich gelungen, einen Meilenstein der Softwaregeschichte zu produzieren - viele spannende Stunden vor dem Monitor sind garantiert! Hoffentlich wird dabei niemand schneeblind... (Udo Bartz)


Midwinter 1 logo CU Amiga Superstar

MICROPROSE
PRICE: £29.99

The threat of global warming has been much publicised in the news, even if at times it seems that it has not been much in the minds of politicians. But Microprose have been doing their own bit of ecological prediction and have used that as the basis for Midwinter.

2015 is the year of the Global Green Terrorists, who put pressure on governments to save the world before it is too late. Two years later a classified document is leaked to an American newspaper. It outlines a joint Russian, American and European venture to combat global warming with global cooling.

The process is simple, if hardly sensitive: throw enough dust into the atmosphere by setting off a nuke, and sunlight will be reflected long enough to cause ice crystals to form in the upper atmosphere. Just 0.1% of the water in the atmosphere needs to crystalise, and most of the sun's energy will be reflected away from the planet. The end result - an ice age.

Twenty years later, and the plan lies gathering dust, when the Earth is struck by a giant meteorite, which spews tens of thousands of tons of debris into the atmosphere, triggering unprecendented cooling.

Midwinter centres on a recently formed Atlantic island on which war now rages between the aggressive noth and the basically peace loving southern community.

As Captain John Stark, it is down to you to make a stand against the invaders. The radio networks are jammed so you have to rally forces by word of mouth. Once a character has been recruited he or she is placed under your direct control, and from there it works like a chain, with friends recruiting friends. The manual details each of the thirty-two characters in the game, and it makes sense to work out who gets on well with who.

Each character has his own strengths and weaknesses. For instance, befriending a good sniper means you have a good chance of writing a squadron out of the game. But some of the lesser skilled characters have their advantages, too. School children can easily slip into enemy territory without fear of being stopped, and there is a professor who can overrise the radio jamming, and a doctor and nurse who also come in handy.

Skiing is the main form of transport in Midwinter, while your weapon is a supply of grenades launches by tapping the space bar. In the event of an air attack, you can dive onto the ground and break your rifle. This is far more effective. One shot from your high powered gun is enough to destroy the remote controlled enemy bombers, or a Snow Cat.

The enemy's ultimate objective is to gain control of all the Heat Mines which supply the island with its power. Their progress can be slowed by destroying their stores or interrupting their supply lines. Sabotaging your own warehouses deprives them of storage for fuel and ammunition.

On the other hand you have a few options left. If you and your people can hold out for forty days the opposition runs out of supplies and gives up. Easier than wiping out all the enemy forces, who number four and a half thousand to your thirty-two.

Midwinter is in a class of its own when it comes to plotting. The two-hundred page manual features fascinating insight into the world in which we live, and it has a fantastic background story which sets the scene for the host of believable characters who make up the Midwinter peace force.

The Midwinter graphics work a treat, using vectors for the travel sequences and some nice, economic drawings for the interiors of buildings. The soundtrack is a constant combination of buzzes and rumbles which may not sound too hot, but fin in perfectly with the rest of the game.

Although we are only a third of the way into it, Midwinter on the Amiga has got to be a contender for game of the year. It has everything you want. So much effort and research has gone into Midwinter sparkle. You would be mad to miss it.


Trouble is brewing high above our heads in the Carbon dioxide and man-made chlorofluorcarbons (CFCs) pumped out by the world's industrial nations - primarily the United States and Western Europe - are causing the world to get hotter.

There cannot be many people in this country who have not heard of the greenhouse effect and global warming. A layer of gasses naturally surrounds the Earth which trap the reflected energy of the sun and prevent it from escaping. Human activity has boosted the concentration of these gasses through the burning of fossil fuels and CFCs. It is a bit like having extra loft insulation.

But Britain faces more than a tropical climate. Most scientists agree that global warming is causing the ice caps to become thinner which, if it continues, will mean rising sea level and the danger of serious flooding. By the year 2100 substantial areas of the country could be under water. Blackpool would be come an island and Hull and Grimsby disappear altogether.

Again, many scientists agree that action now can less the problems - starting by cutting the pollution of the atmosphere. Everybody has a part to play. Make sure the people in power - members of Parliament, councillors - know you are concerned. Protest and survive. Remember, the heat is on.


Midwinter 1 logo Zzap! Gold Medal

Rainbird, Amiga £29.99

Conservation, ecology and 'green' politics were the hottest topics in the late 20th Century with the hole in the ozone layer, the 'greenhouse effect' and pollution all major concerns. Global warming was the ultimate threat, soon to become ironic when a meteor burned into Earth's atmosphere and impacted South East Asia. Millions of tons of dust were thrown into the atmosphere, throwing a dark veil over the globe and heralding the march of ice from the Poles.

Sixty years later, in 2099, the only habitable land is the Azores, turned into a single large island linked by ice and appropriately renamed Midwinter. The island's inhabitants hope to see the re-emergence of the human race and have built a complex transportation system consisting of snow buggies, a cable car network, hang-gliders and skis. Factories and synthesis plants produce vital stores while radio stations provide communication. But it's the eighteen Heat Mines that are the key to the island's life, providing the energy for the people to stay alive.

Law and order is the responsibility of the FVPF (Free Villages Peace Force). Led by Captain John Stark it patrols the island, settling minor disputes with little trouble - until now, that is. From the south-east, the ambitious General Masters has gathered an army of soldiers, snow buggy battalions, and patrol aircraft to wrest control of the isle from the more liberal inhabitants. To achieve his aim he must seize or destroy the heat Mines.

The game opens with Captain John Stark on patrol. Stark learns of Masters's initial attack, which has captured the three main radio stations. Unable to call for help he must start the resistance campaign by word-of-mouth. A map of the island can be brought up - in colour or relief (fractal) modes, with a powerful zoom function. The map also reveals the locations of buildings, the cable car network, and positions of the two combatants' forces.

Via the map, Stark is able to command his recruits to perform tasks around the island. Watches can be synchronised to maintain precise timing (which is vital) and every two hours situation reports are produced. To begin with, Stark cannot contact anyone by radio and needs to ski to nearby comrades to recruit them. Once a person is under Stark's command you can take direct control of them, looking through their eyes. You can also have the person seek and recruit other people (32 in all), sabotage enemy installations, and search and destroy targets. A wise commander will bear in mind that all his characters have individual strengths and weaknesses, plus hidden talents such as the ability to ski, hang-glide, etc.

Unfortunately for Stark, his comrades aren't the usual zombies which inhabit computer games. In fact, there are quite complex relationships between the characters. Love affairs, hatred, jealousy, admiration, and many other factors all play their part in determining the chances of one person recruiting another. These problems make recruiting no sure thing, so it's a good idea to recapture the radio stations and use them to contact everyone.

While this is happening, General Masters is going all-out to overwhelm Stark's forces. Although Masters has twelve hours advance on Stark, his weakness is a reluctance to use the island's higher ground, opting instead for moving supplies and forces through the flat lands.

With this fact in mind, Stark can avoid snow buggy patrols by skiing at high altitudes, using the cable cars, and even hang-gliding from a peak to a plateau. But pushing the vehicles too far, too high, or too fast can lead to disaster. Wounds can lead to loss of muscle power, alertness and morale. Push characters too hard and their sight fades into monochrome before blacking out.

Preventing Masters from taking all 18 heat mines is a huge task, given the sheer number of enemy vehicles coming from the south-east. Guerilla tactics are the best in this desperate situation. Ambushing supply buggies, destroying them to prevent them falling into enemy hands; these are all good tactics in this chillingly cold war.


Robin Hogg The idea of having a massive, mysterious landscape to explore in glorious 3-D, together with a very strong strategic challenge, is a wonderful idea that Mike Singleton has executed perfectly. Travelling across the icy wastes is an enchanting experience in itself, without having to tackle buggies and aircraft, or worry about the main objective. The polygons work perfectly with zero perspective or update problems. The graphic effect of skiing up the side of a high hill and pausing to look out over the landscape, viewing distant hills and villages just has to be experienced to be believed. The most atmospheric, utterly magnificent game I've played (and will play) all year.
Phil King Midwinter's one of the best presented games I've ever seen. The graphics are superb with a stunning 3-D effect and incredibly detailed static screens. Even the sound has been exploited to the full, with stereo sound providing advanced warning of an oncoming vehicle. But it's the gameplay that's the best bit - it could easily keep you playing for weeks. It may not appeal to the most mindless of arcade fans, but for everyone else this will be irresistible. It may be argues that the endless snowy wastes could get a little repetitive, but that's ignoring the strategic game which is made infinitely more interesting with such recognizably human characters to control. A beautiful game and no mistake.
Scorelord After the disappointment of Whirligig, Mike Singleton has stormed back onto form with Midwinter. As one of the most imaginative and technically-gifted programmers around, the results are inevitably awesome. Who would've though a mere human could come up with something so visually stunning, yet simultaneously so deep and involving. It makes me wonder if Maelstrom Games aren't some alien brotherhood. Here, they offer you a ticket to a whole new world for a price which is a zillionth of a galactic time-warp. All I can say is, don't miss it!