"Fight your way through time, or you're history"
The moment I saw the cover and read the pull quote I was hooked. I really enjoyed this game and right before Christmas, I could think of nothing better to recommend for some jaded young teenager, than this masterful piece of software creativity. Although I will confess it is an all action "no brainer", it has superb graphics, a great story line and plenty of combat challenges.
The game begins with a stunning opening sequence that describes a society of the future, where the military boffins have once again placed the world at the brink of disaster, by inventing a super computer whose power is way beyond their means to control. This super number cruncher is very special because it allows the military to manipulate time and replicate any combat situation, past, present and future, against which to test their war fighting skills. Unfortunately the "enemy" manages to infiltrate a hacker into the senior ranks of the military's programmers (so what's new?). The hacker introduces a virus into the system and all hell breaks loose. The computer throws a time vortex around itself for protection and then systematically goes about destroying the entire military network.
Enter SAVE - the Special Action for Virus Elimination team. In the future, the likes of poor old McAfee and Norton have been replaced by specialist SAVE stormtroopers. These guys clock in for a regular shift, step into a gizmo that suits them up and makes them look like a visor less version of Robo Cop and then they wait to be called to the scene of a virus infection. Only this time, the SAVE guy must go into the time vortex and fight the virus on its own terms. Unfortunately the virus is pretty smart, so it sends our SAVE action hero back through time and pits him or her against more than 80 of the deadliest foes history has ever produced. Beginning in prehistoric times you must guide our man through nine eras including ancient Rome, feudal Japan, medieval Europe, the age of the Spanish conquistador, the Wild West, a World War, a battlefield of the future and then finally, inside the computer slogging it out with the virus itself.
At each point in time you must win or find weapons with which to fight and protect yourself. In prehistoric times it is a simple club or a sling and stone, in Rome you can use a short sword and shield, medieval times gives you a nice choice of mace, broadsword or javelin for example. As if all that wasn't bad enough, you are also under a time constraint. The virus, having detected your presence, continues to bring down the network by attacking its memory circuits. If the virus destroys the network before you can defeat it, you end up as a swirling mass of zeroes and ones! To delay the progression of the virus and buy yourself extra time, you must find healthy memory chips scattered through the time zones and upload them to the infected computer through special terminals. This will give you some breathing space until you finally confront the virus face to face (does a virus have a face?).
The game has four difficulty settings. On easy, the game really wasn't much of a challenge. However, try the normal or difficult settings and I guarantee you will be history. In the style of games such as Wolfenstein and DOOM there are hidden rooms to find, extra lives and health points, plus a few weapons laying around in each level. These are not particularly hard to find and are not really the sort of critical feature they are in the games I've just mentioned, but they all add that little bit of extra amusement and challenge. The graphics are just superb. The figures are rendered in a 3D style and although their movements are a bit stick like (the feudal Japanese flinging themselves about is hilarious), the overall effect is very clever. Considerable care has been taken to recreate each time period with as much accuracy and realism as possible. Combined with some really unusual viewing angles and panoramic "camera" sweeps, the graphics are a real feature. The music and sound effects are good but nothing special.
Right now I'm locked into medieval Europe bashing some armour clad crusader about the head with my broadsword and not doing too well. By the time I have to give up this game for the door prize at the November meeting I hope I will have found my way through to the end. I'm really keen to get a look at a virus up close.
Title: Time Commando
Format: 1 x CD
Manufacturer: Activision and Adeline Software
Genre: Combat and a bit of adventure thrown in.
Price: RRP $89.95. For the month of December, BitStorm in the Canberra Centre will sell Time Commando to PCUG members on presentation of a current membership card for $79.95 .
Classification: Suitable for mature players 15 years and over (see comments).
System Requirements: As a minimum.
A 486DX/66 MHz processor, 8MB RAM, double speed CD ROM, 10MB of uncompressed hard drive space, 256 VGA colour, 16 bit Sound Blaster compatible soundcard. The game is also designed to run under Windows 95 provided you have a Pentium processor and all the latest drivers for sound, video, CD and input devices so that the game can be run under Microsoft's DirectX software enhancements.
The quality of the graphics is a feature of this game but unlike many other high quality games, Time Commando combines unique viewing and camera actions that provide an unusual perspective. Each time period was fun to explore simply for the sake of the art work that had gone into their creation.
Except for the music, sound is not dazzling in this game. Speech is mainly confined to the opening cut scenes and the sound effects are adequate prompts for the combat action sequences.
As the time era keeps changing, the player is confronted with new weapons to master and new techniques to learn in order to outwit the many human and animal opponents. But for these frequent changes the constant combat might have been boring after a while. On the easier settings the game is fairly easy. On the more difficult settings you must use the full range of motion available to overcome your opponents. As a tip, you do not always need to fight multiple groups of soldiers. If there is a leader near by, go for him first. If you can defeat the leader, the others might just run away.
Frankly I think the Office of Film and Literature Classification is way too high at 15 years plus. Sure the game depicts animated violence but it is medium to low and nothing like the latest offerings such as Quake or Duke Nukem 3D. I don't think you would warp the mind of a 12 year old if you were to buy them this game.
Expect the usual offering of a manual reduced in size so that it can fit inside the CD cover. Thankfully the game is very simple to play and therefore the instructions are not long or complicated. The troubleshooting sections are clear and useful.
Ease of Installation
I didn't even try the Windows 95 installation because I haven't yet come across a game that loaded easily under that operating system, The DOS loading sequence worked fine. Make sure however that the game is not loaded to a compressed hard disk.
Value for Money:
This game is something different from the normal run of the mill. I liked it and I would rate it as one of the most enjoyable games I've reviewed this year.
Any comments or queries about this game review or previous reviews featured in Sixteen Bits can be passed to Alan via the following E-mail address -email@example.com