1984
Adventure: Text
£5.50
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Power-Load

106,107
Derek Brewster
Chris Bourne

Vicious attacks have come from beyond a range of mountains to the east - the Mountains of Ket. The Priest King Vran Verusbel, leader of the cult of mad monks, and their High Priestess Delphia, the most beautiful woman in existence, are set against you.

They find shelter in the evil Temple of Vran where you make you way accompanied by the magic assassin bug Edgar whose poisoned fangs will sink into your neck should you decide to shirk your mission. You must be under close scrutiny as you play a rehabilitated criminal-type who arose this scheme as a device to escape almost certain death. When you confront the likes of the green slime you will wonder at the wisdom of your decision.

The Final Mission is the third part in what has now become the famous Ket Trilogy. It follows The Mountains of Ket and The Temple of Vran which, if successfully completed, give the aspirant the chance of a prize. The adventures are classic text-only games with large numbers of locations with many problems to solve. There are a good number of useful objects which when first sighted, and later viewed in the inventory, are accompanied by a small token graphic. Input is confined to verb/noun leaving the program to concentrate on giving a greater, more intelligent feedback to whatever input you might devise. These and other refinements, including an endearing plot and consistent theme, have won many converts to the Trilogy adventures.

In part three of the Ket Trilogy you meet the evil Verusbel himself in his inner sanctum located beyond the five enigmatic Gate Guardians. Should you defeat him and remove the threat to the Lords of Ket, you must still secure your own escape.

Loading The Final Mission is very quick as it takes place at twice the normal Spectrum speed. It loads in an unusual sequence which makes it impossible to BREAK and very difficult to copy.

You wake... stunned...

Gradually your memory clears. You recall a blow to the head as you descended some stairs enshrouded in gloom.

"We are in a dark and dank cell. There is no light save for a low glow coming from our east. Near us is: a wooden chair." So starts The Final Mission with yourself, Edgar, a magic ring and... a wooden chair. I wouldn't be giving anything away if I said that you lust might need that chair and so with the help of the cassette inlay notes, the first problem unravels easily enough. The second problem is another matter - it's pedantic and you don't so much solve it as stumble on the solution by doing as many daft and not-so-daft things as they come into your head. I'll have to come straight out with it. The early part of the adventure lacks something in that you keep thinking of how you would have devised a stronger plot, say using the glass from the window to focus the rays of light onto the straw. Or anything whereby you might use you imagination and I reasoning skills. Instead the plot transpires to be dull and the solutions to the problems arbitrary. You get the feeling that the second problem is no more than artifice to slow your progress.

The descriptions of the seemingly endless corridors and passageways with doors marking the end of one and the beginning of another leaves you with few locations which, on reflection, make any impression. Often it's difficult to know how to label a location on your map when you're simply standing outside a secret passageway. While I'm griping, the input routine is just a touch slow although a pleasant beep with every key depression helps alleviate some of the annoyance. Switching off the beep with the BEEP command does not appreciably speed it up.

Now that's off my chest I can get down to what's worthy about the game.

There's a polish and panache about the project which singles it out as one where some thought has gone into its construction. Right from the first screen, or the very attractive cover and loading ' screen before that, the game makes its presence felt. Above the neatly boxed location description ornate markings accommodate the score in the top right corner which increments on each new location. As you enter the new locality a distinctive tune sounds directing your attention back to your map where you now add another label. Simple ideas which add up to your enjoyment of the game.

The vocabulary is quite friendly, but where it is exceptional is in its responsiveness to your input. By monitoring the continual string of mostly useful comments your efforts are guided to more fruitful endeavours. You can EXAMINE almost anything and affect a response.

As with the previous episodes of the saga interest is enriched with the combat routine where your prowess or swordsmanship energy or physical condition, and luck, descending from their starting values of eight, are pitted against those of your aggressor. In the case of the En Monster, which has prowess and energy of 10, you would be wise to disengage and forgo any shallow victory you might extract.

The Final Mission, by reason of its position as the last tale in the Ket Trilogy, is sure to prove popular. It maintains the same high standards of the previous two episodes and also features one or two improvements. However, the overall impression is of a game not so much crafted as produced to a deadline.

Difficulty: Average
Graphics: None
Presentation: Good
Input Facility: Verb/Noun
Response: A touch slow but gives intelligent replies to most input
Special Features: On screen scoring and combat routine

CRITICISM

General Rating: Good.

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