- Uridium 2 logo

Ye olde gamers might remember the original, but here is the updated, enhanced and improved version of one of the greatest ever shoot-'em-ups.

When young I never had the pleasure of playing games on a Commodore 64. I was a rubber-keyed Specrum owner and a happy little chap in those days.
So-called friends who owned C64s used to brag about the graphics and colour capabilities of their machines and the fact that it was far superior to the Spectrum. Me? I used to ignore them and continued to be contented and thankful for what I had.

so as I kept myself to myself and kept away from the C4, I know absolutely nothing about Uridium. I consulted a friend of mine (cheers John!) who assured me that it was the pinnacle of C64 gaming and apparently one of the best 8-bit shoot-'em-ups of the 80s.

Andrew Braybrook should be a name familiar to many gamers. If you don't have a clue who he is then you haven't been playing enough games. Andrew has been responsible for some of the greatest games of all time, including - among others - Rainbow Islands, Paradroid 90 and Fire & Ice.

What a damn fine idea it would be, then, to take Andrew's original Uridium and update it for the 90s... which is, of course, what Renegade have done. Uridium 2 is a shoot-'em-up which, of course, means that ou shoot things (no, really? Ed). That is the integral part of the game, Renegade's blaster being devoid of a decent story line, letting you get right down to business.

You pilot a Manta spacecraft and fly over huge alien dreadnoughts (that's big spaceships like the Imperial Star Destroyers seen in Star Wars, for those not in the know). Your job? To completely obliterate them.

You have to attack all aerial and ground targets and locate the master runaway. Once you've located and landed on the runway, you are transported down into the dreadnought main generator chamber.
The dreadnought is already severely damaged, but it can only be destroyed by blowing up the reactor core. Once destroyed, you will progress to the next level.

The Manta is capable of firing a number of different weapons. The standard weapons are twin wing-mounted cannons. If you pick up a bonus pod you will power-up and obtain a different form of armament. Some - like the lasers - have infinite shots and will remain on the Manta until it is destroyed, whereas others - like homing missiles - are limited in number.

A nice touch in Renegade's blast-'em-up is the two-player team mode. The lead player controls the speed and roll position of both craft. The following player can only move laterally and within the confines of the visible screen.
You might think that this system would lead to squabbles over who gets to fly the lead ship, but Renegade have already thought about this problem.

If only one Manta survives the level, then that pilot earns the right to fly the lead Manta on to the next level. If both survive then the pilot with the most points scored on that level becomes the lead ship.

Uridium 2 will please a lot of shoot-'em-up fans. It's fast and furious and you do get to shoot loads of things in a vicious psychopathic kinda way. The graphics are very nice indeed, especially when you consider the minute size of them.

The introduction of the reactor core section is a nice touch and beats the pants off the section found in the original (thanks again John!).
Controlling the Manta is tough to start off with, but it is worth persevering. In fact, getting to know the game and how enemies move and attack you adds to the fun of Uridium 2.

The sound is very good with plenty of explosions, booms, bangs and clangs plus there are a few selected sound samples to top it all off. The tune is not too bad and sways from techno (good!) to average bog-standard shoot-'em-up music (not good).

The only problem is that the game won't give long-term satisfaction. Obviously it gets progressively harder, but the gameplay stays the same and nothing new actually happens.
For instance, in Project X you get different half and end-of-level baddies, but Uridium desperately lacks something new that could be injected into the game.

As per usual there isn't a lot more to tell you - after all, it's only a shoot-'em-up, so I'll put beating about the bush and put this review to bed (that's editorial speak for finishing things!)
It's got great graphics and sound and is very playable, but it's not one of those that you'll keep going back to. Maybe I'm just being very fussy, but when there are so many shoot-'em-ups available you desperately need something new, fresh and exciting.

If you're a dedicated shoot-'em-up fanatic then this will be your cup of tea, but other gamers might want to think twice before buying it.



Uridium 2 logo Amiga Format Gold

Back in the good old days of the Commodore 64, Andy Braybrook created the classic space age shoot em up Uridium. Now he has updated it for the Amiga, bringing despair to potential pop stars everywhere...

Video games are killing pop music. That is what some people say. If it is true, Andrew Braybrook stands accused of being a mass murderer. You would not think it to look at him, but his 'rap sheet' says it all.

In April of 1990, Andy's conversion of the coin-op classic Rainbow Islands hit the shelves. Milli Vanilli's chart career never recovered. Later that same year Andy delivered the second barrel of his Amiga assault, Paradroid '90 scored 88 per cent. (Andy's lowest ever), but New Kids On The Block never scored another chart success. Throughout 1991 the bubblegum bubbleheads breathed easily as Andy tailed with Fire And Ice. But its June '92 release was like a rain of fire and damnation on EMF who have not had a top ten hit since.

Take That must be quivering in their designer trainers right now, as Andy is about to unleash his Meisterwerk on a suspecting world. I say suspecting world because this game has existed as a concept since 1986. It was in February of that year that Andy released the 8-bit classic space shoot em up Uridium (putting paid to A Flock Of Seagulls at the same time).

After its release on every 8-bit format you can possibly imagine, including the Atari-ST (which was not strictly an 8-bit, but was almost as powerful as one), Andy decided it would be a good idea to do a version for the then new Amiga.

Heavy metal
So that is what he has done. Well, almost, The truth is that the Amiga version takes the original concept and expands upon it so that it nearly bursts, culminating in Uridium 2.

The basic concept of the game is simple. You control a single-seater fighter craft called a Manta. Your mission is to intercept fleets of enemy dreadnoughts and inflict a crippling amount of damage on them. That is the main idea, but things are never that simple in shoot em ups. Well, not in the good ones anyway.

Your Manta is dropped off the prow of the dreadnought, leaving you to scream over the surface and blast away deck guns, landing strips, surface fighters, radar towers, mine ports and other fairly technical looking items. Surprisingly enough, the dreadnought crews do not particularly want you to do this, so they throw all sorts at you to try to stop you.

The first line of defence is the deck guns, swiftly followed up by the deadly Uridimines. As if this was not enough, there are fighter squadrons to take into account. These fly in fast, deadly waves trying to blast you with their lasers. If you destroy an entire wave, the lead ship drops a pick-up, which can either be a weapon or a bonus. Things get even harder on later levels, because the enemies get smarter and there are also walls and narrow gaps to squeeze past.

Once you have knackered the outside of the ship enough and taken out the odd wave of enemy fighters, you are given a landing signal. At this point you have to ram the throttle to max and get yourself on the landing strip. You can get the landing signal to appear earlier by destroying specific ground targets or ships to reveal a Victory Point. These accelerate proceedings, and hitting one with your ship triples its value.

On the original version, landing your Manta was as far as you needed to get to destroy a dreadnought (as this was only followed by a fruit machine-like bonus stage). However, Uridium 2 does not let you off that lightly. After landing, you have to tool yourself up with a Gundam-style assault suit and enter the main engine core which has to be blasted with your Vulcan cannon before the entire ship is destroyed.

Uridium 2 creates exactly the kind of crazed, frantic, adrenaline-addled response that a shoot em up should, but not straight away. The controls take a little getting used to, as does the updated weapon system and end-of-level section. Once you have got your head round it though, you will be seriously hooked (I only stopped playing because I had to do some real work).

Uridium 2's graphics are some of the best yet seen in a shoot em up. The sprites may be small, but the animation is fast and fluid and the dreadnoughts look wonderful. The futuristic, cyber (sorry) feel is definitely there, especially when you see the later fleets. A1200 owners get even better visuals, since the missiles leave smoke trails, the fighters blast exhaust flames and crashing ships dive in a hail of smoke and flames.

Blast from the past
Those who remember the original version will be glad to know that the feel is still there - only better. The scope has been widened, the action increased, and the challenge doubled (at least). Forget all these other namby Defender clones, Uridium 2 is THE Defender variant... with knobs, bells, whistles, coloured flags, hooters and fluffy dice on.



Die Legende lebt!

Uridium 2 logo Amiga Joker Hit

Ballerfreaks haben diesen Monat hart mit sich selbst zu kämpfen = lieber ein Ausflug mit "Turrican III" oder ein Rundflug mit dieser fulminanten Fortsetzung der 64er-Legende? Klare Antwort: Am besten beides!

Der Vorgänger machte vor sieben Jahren den "Brotkasten" zum Backofen, nie zuvor war die Action heißer gewesen. Kein Beinbruch also, daß Andrew Braybrook & Genoseen das Spielprinzip nahezu unverändert übernommen haben, schließlich kann die brandneue Amigaversion mit tollen Extra-Features und viel zusätzlichen Gameplay aufwarten.

Die Lizenz zum Tóten wird hier für böse Aliens vergeben, die ihre Raumbasen (sogenannte "Dreadnoughts") um die Erde herum geparkt haben. Also nix wie rein in den Manta-Fighter und ab durch die nach links und rechs bzw. Auch ein wenig nach oben und unten scrollenden Feind-Installationen: Das Fluggebiet ist stets aus der Draufsicht zu sehen, auf Wunsch auch von zwei Alien-Jägern gleichzeitig oder wahlweise abwechselnd.

Einschränkend muß lediglich angemerkt werden, daß dem Zweitspieler im Team-Modus nur begrenzte Steuermöglichkeiten zukommen. Nahzeu uneingeschränkt dagegen das feindliche Aufgebot, es gilt Flieger, Minen, Flakanlagen und vieles mehr in Schutt und Asche zu legen.

Weil das mit der Standardwumme allein doch etwas müsehig wäre, läßt sie sich durch Extrakapseln u.a. zum dicken Beamlaser oder Fächerschuß ausbauen; manche Waffen sind allerdings nur begrenzt munitioniert.

Solospieler erhalten zudem rechnergesteuerte Unterstützung in Form einer Ballerdrohne, und ein praktischer Scanner warnt vor weiter entfernten Gefahren.

Noch eindrucksvoller sind freilich die phänomenalen Flugeigenschaften des Manta: Der Gleiter beschleunigt (auch via Tastaturbedienung) nahezu bis Lichtgeschwindigkeit und legt rasante 180 Grad-Wendungen genauso elegant aufs Sternenparkett wie den platzsparenden Vertikalflug, der sich gerade bei engen Passagen als nützlich erweist.

Soweit so original, ganz neu hinzugekommen ist eine Art Bonusgame, bei dem besonders fleißige Punktesammler ihren gelandeten Raumer verlassen und per pedes den Reaktorkern eines Dreadnoughts zerstören können - den nächsten der 24, teils anwählbaren Levels erreicht man aber auch ohne von dieser Option Gebrauch zu machen.

All das ist nicht nur schön abwechslungsreich zu spielen, sondern auch recht hübsch anzusehen. Die wilde Hatz führt über 32-farbige Technolandschaften und Gebiete im Organo-Look, die Feindformationen sind hart, aber gerecht, sämtliche Sprites gleiten dahin wie Schmelz-Butter, und das superschnelle Scrolling kommt praktisch nie ins Stottern.

Okay, etwas origineller hätte die Grafik ruhig sein dürfen, aber immerhin werden A1200 und A4000 mit dem zusätzlichen Mayhem-Modus, verwöhnt, wo nahezu doppelt so viele Gegner am Screen für die ideale Profi-Herausforderung sorgen. Bis Weihnachten soll auch eine Version für das CD32 vorliegen, doch die Soundbegleitung mit Musik, massig Sound-FX und Sprachausgabe ist jezt schon sehr gelungen. Im Ergebnis liegt mit Uridium II jedenfalls ein Ballerknaller vor, wie man ihn seit "Apidya" schmerzlich vermißt hat! (rl)



Uridium 2 logo

Yeah, we know we over-use the phrase 'blast from the past'. But this time it really is an updated classic shoot-'em-up.

The Amstrad CPC464 and 6128 were never very well known for their graphics. Occasionally, CPC programmers produced a beauty out of their assembler hats that outstripped the Amstrads' two main rivals of the time. One instance of this was ATF (All Terrain Fighter). Contrary to the usual jerky frame update, the scroll of the undulating landscape in this wonderful game was unbelievably smooth.

When I used to work in an independent computer shop, we had an Amstrad monitor attached to a CPC6128 atop the glass fronted counter. I never could quite work out why someone would want t buy such a set-up. Okay, you got an independent monitor (which was really just a cheap TV with the tuner taken out) as well as a three-inch-drive 128 computer.

For the same price or less, you could get a three-and--a-half-inch drive 512K Amiga. SO before I get a "Steve just what are you wittering about?" from the Ed, I'll get to the point. Due to the Amstrad's location in the shop, I used to be able to play Amstrad games while serving customers. I got to know the game reasonably well.

Despite my misgivings about the 6128, I forgive it all of its sins when the owner of the shop ordered Uridium on disk. Although I had played the original on the C64, it never quite took my fancy, too garish and blocky.

The Spectrum version was virtually unplayable: the control system was crap and the ship was indistinguishable from the background Imagine my surprise to find that the Amstrad version of Uridium was beautifully sculpted with all the right bolt-on parts for a shoot-'em-up, plenty of power-ups, loads of enemies and a freedom of movement which so few shoot-'em-ups permit. This last bit, as well as the velvety scrolling, sold Uridium to me (albeit at a knock-down bargain price).

Your average shoot-'em-up consists of a non-arbitrary horizontal or vertical scroll and several attack waves of aliens. The main tactic involved lies in the learning of the attack patterns, how to obtain the best power-ups and use them properly and, er, that's it. With Uridium, you had a lot more choice over what you wanted to do.

First you had to discover the layout of the dreadnought ship you were supposed to destroy. This was important from the point of view that once properly surveyed, you could rush up and down the ship without hitting solid things like walls.

Once scouted, you then proceeded to take out the ship's defences, which included several attack waves of alien ships, and land on a designated runway. This done, it was on to the next dreadnought with more fiendishly difficult defences and aliens.

All in all, a good blast and highly therapeutic after dealing with an obnoxious customer on a boring Monday morning.


Beautifully sculpted, with all the right bolt-on parts

THE EVOLUTION OF DESIGN
Anyone who's been watching BBC2's utterly absorbing Sunday escapades on evolution in 'Nature by Design' probably couldn't have avoided thinking about the parallel progress of computer games. Okay, so it was probably just me thinking that, but Uridium 2 provides a perfect vehicle to discuss games evolution.

On booting, the code on the disk checks to see what kind of Amiga, processor, and chipset you own. If your set-up is any different from a standard 1.3 machine with one meg of memory, it's likely that you'll find enhancements of varying degrees of enormity, eg smoother scrolling, better sound samples and better homing missiles etc. Get the picture?

So with that little piece of techno-info out of the way, let's investigate Uridium 2's finer points.
Industrially decadent dreadnoughts are wreaking havoc throughout the lanes and systems of the lcoal space motorways. Your job as a lone-wolf Manta commander is to put paid to these monolithic ram raiders by issuing go-slow destruction bans, i.e. destroying them.

This isn't easy. Each dreadnought carries an arsenal of quick-fire use-the-force-Luke defences in the shape of fast-fire joyriders. Nice touch beat-me-up-Scotties reside in their attack patterns.

With the original Uridium, hierarchy structure keep-information onslaught lines were used. With U2 the flight orders change. No chance of Gestalt stasis here. Aggression impetus with extreme prejudice is required, rather tha blasé 'I know the form' passionless stroke play. Keeping to this strategy leads to big-bang, looks-better-kills-best weapon power-ups, smart bombs, ioniser toothpaste, fluoro-lasers etc. Some of these power-ups are vital to completion of role sync plans.

For example, your recon pre-plan footprint (scanner) can be knocked out by the dreadnought's radio-scramble jammers. These can only be expiry defactoed by bmb or torpedo. Front-fire weapons having no discord factor effect in this instance whatsoever. (Nnngggh! - Ed)


With U2 the flight orders change

Difficulty influence is progression-feedback stimulated. This is only fair and just. Challenge must be maintained for smart-boy-out-of-the-way-sonny fire-fist freedom fighters. This it does. Walls have to be reckoned with. Space can be cleared for more dogffight room and escape routes. Quickfire dexterity bucks will even find the further levels a wrist-stretch brain-jack.

Praise to the Allah for the improved tactile feedback control system. Original Uridium fans will love the speed-turn, over-roll back-flip quick-velocity new shape Mantas. Balance is kept in check. Some enemy commanders break formation and come for you. Darth-Vader-feral style. Nice touch high-involvement factor.

Lo-mo no-goes are the sequences after dreadnought destruction. The pretty pic soot-the-core animation impels dissonance in non-game context. What is it doing here? Big bore, no fun. More originality please on this section. It does no justice to the rest of the game.

Temporary faults aside (I am now devoid of polysyllables), just how much is Uridium 2 an evolution of the original?
Control is massively improved, you can fly upside down and turn on a veritable sixpence. The difficulty factor is progressive. Up to nine different attack wave fighters defend each fleet. Extra weapons are much more desirable and collectable. Aggressive play is encouraged by this and rewarded accordingly, discouraging the rush for an early landing.

Two-player modes have been tweaked. Rather than simple alternate turns, there's a lot more variety. A pair of you can attack the dreadnought all at once or alternatively fly lone missions with a drone on tow. Plenty of fun to be had there.

Also worth a special mention is the beauty of the graphics on the 1200 version. On later levels, the dreadnoughts are dotted with realistic rust-spots. The smoothness of the scroll is as good as anything the so-called 'superior' console jocks can come up with (would you expect anything less of the 1200 though?)

Fans of the original Uridium will love the sequel. Other unkind people will simply point out that Uridium 2 is Uridium with brass knobs on. And who knows? They might be right.



Uridium 2 logo

After seven years, an infinite number of previews and an incredible amount of hype will Andrew Braybrook's masterpiece live up to expectations? Jon Sloan looks for the truth behind the legend.

There's no doubt that this game is a cleverly-crafted bit of coding.

Seven years in the making and with umpteen bells and whistles Uridium 2 is so slick it trips itself up.

It's a bit like a meringue -beautiful to look at but with little substance. Forgetting the usual dubious storyline, the aim of the game is fairly simple:

you pilot a small Manta attack craft over the top of huge space battle cruisers shooting everything that comes your way. When you've destroyed a suitable amount of the superstructure, land the Manta on one of the battleship's pads, get out and then use a hand laser to blow up the main reactor.

Simple huh? Wrong! This is one tough game - from getting to grips with the controls to actually taking on the enemy; nothing is easy.

CONTROLLED FIRE
First up, you have to learn to control the Manta. Grabbing a joystick, wiggling it a bit and stabbing fire just isn't good enough. These basics of craft control are no problem but to advance you'll need to learn how to turn the Manta on its side and even upside down.

You see, on later levels sections of the dreadnoughts are raised up. So, to avoid a Manta-mashing smash, you'll need to be able to twist through more contortions than an Indian rubber man. These raised bits are probably one of the most annoying aspects of the game.

The only way to spot them is to glance at the scanner or look for a telltale shadow. That's all well and good but when you're speeding away from a squadron of fighters dodging laser blasts, it's almost impossible to spot them until it's too late.

Protecting each dreadnought are up to nine attack waves of fighters, which have the tendency to sneak up on you when you least expect it. Don't rely on your radar to spot them 'cos they're generally too fast for it to be of any practical value.

In fact, on laer levels, when they start to use jamming equipment, it's next to useless. To add to your misery these fighters arbitrarily change formation and even send single chase ships after your Manta.

Destroy a whole wave though and you'll get a chance to nab a victory token. Normally you need to survive all the attack waves before landing to blow up the reactor, but collect enough victory tokens and can land early.

PARKING METER
Once you've parked the Manta the view switches to the inside of the dreadnought's reactor. Your job here is to control the pilot as he circles the core blasting it to bits. This is easier said than done as it'll try to protect itself with a shield which attacks as well as defends.

Control here is pretty tricky 'cos the core exerts a gravitational force alternating between attraction and repulsion making the usual inertia even more frustrating. But succesful penetration releases a shower of pick-ups giving your Manta even more power on the next level.

Blow one ship up and it's on to the next, and the next, each becoming more and more taxing with the addition of ultra complicated attack waves and crash-inducing superstructure. The final challenge will take even the most able game player a lifetime to master.

UNDER MINED

I've a feeling that Uridium 2 is going to be one of those games that polarises opinion. Some people are going to go wild over it, others, like myself, will end up feeling nothing more than antipathy.

It's true that everything that glitters is not gold and this game reinforces that axiom. It is a polished game and it's obvious that a lot of thought has gone into the design.

However, it's just too damn tough. But then again, maybe I'm getting old?


URIDIUM... THEN AND NOW

The original Uridium was one of the best games to appear on the old C64. In fact, in 1986, it collected more awards for gameplay than you could shake a stick at. The plots for the two are virtually identical - huge dreadnoughts, small Manta craft, generator explosions etc. In fact, Mr Braybrook has ported across all the original attack wave patterns and only modified them where he felt that they were too tough to beat. In addition, new attack waves have been added with ships that can break formation and chase the player.
So, what else is new? The control mode has been updated to allow for faster turns and greater manoeuvrability. The Manta can now fly upside down, which is useful for avoiding chase ships as they can't hit you while in that position. There are weapon pick-ups for increased firepower, but the enemy ships now have chaff to confuse the power-ups. The generator destruction sub-game has been beefed up considerably and owners of AGA machines get the benefit of Mayhem mode where even the kitchen sink is thrown at you. Finally, there's a new option for a drone ship to follow your Manta. This can be controlled by the computer or a second player.