A SPACE ODDITY
Yes, Alien 8 has arrived, the new megagame from Ultimate, and shock, horror, it looks almost identical to the last megagame from Ultimate, Knightlore - the same number of rooms, the same 3D graphics, just substitute a dinky robot for Sabreman and the Werewulf. But first impressions aren't always best as Ross Holman and Chris Wood found out when they started playing...
So now we know. The reason nobody can hear you scream in space i s ... they're all frozen stiff. Or rather they are 'cryogenically immersed', for Alien 8 comes with the same sort of instructions as Ultimate's other recent games. Enigmatic is an understatement. Obscure, opaque, mysterious or just plain unintelligable would be closer. Certainly, lots of long words and not many facts to join them together.
Much easier to pick up the gist of the plot by playing. All you need to know is that you are a robot, sorry, cybot, programmed to look after all the needs of the frozen astronauts, off on a jolly jaunt to colonise distant worlds. Unfortunately, the ship has been invaded by aliens and the life support systems have been damaged. You now have to reactivate these systems before the astronauts turn into real stiffs.
Reactivation is achieved by collecting 'thermolec valves' (different shaped objects) and plugging them into the cryogenic sockets (holes to plug in different shaped objects). With 24 chambers to be reactivated and only 5 initial replacement packs (lives), it's not a task that'll be completed first time out. You're going to have to get used to the screams of a lot of defrosting spacemen as they re-enter the atmosphere. Luckily, on the Speccy nobody'll hear them.
Any resemblance to any other Ultimate program is purely uncoincidental. And sure, you're going to think you've been conned by a clone when you first load it up. But once you're into the game you'll sec that it's much more complex than its predecessor and perfects all the techniques that Knightlore prepared us for.
So, now check out our map and start planning your movements with the microwave on legs.
Help is at hand. You'll never get lost again if you follow our room-by-room guide to the Alien 8 spaceship.It's in one of these four rooms that your vital mission starts.These are the cryogenic chambers - easily recognised because the astronauts are here, but not so easily activated.You'll always find a thermotec valve in these rooms - but don't give up if you don't spot it straight off.You won't find any valves in these rooms, but take care, for the alien menace still lurks behind every door.The mutant daleks aren't that fast moving but they're still deadly if they creep up behind you.Learn to control the robodroids in these rooms - they're often your only hope of clearing the mines and getting out again.Watch out for the clockwork mice in these rooms - they're erratic and unpredictable, just like the real thing.Prepare to be pushed around in these rooms - the alien sparklers aren't lethal but they just won't take no for an answer.
"Next time I'll remember the bleep cheese"
They may look cute but don't be fooled, these clockwork rodents are out to wind you up.Danger, UXB. Just one touch and you'll be blown into oblivion.Keep an eye on your light yearometer - even at sub-hyperwarp speeds it's later than you think.Wait for the mice to clear a path for you, then leg it to the other side. But watch out for the mice - the fewer the mines, the faster they move.
"Lucky I know my bleep from my right"
Jump on the arrows to control the direction of the robodroid - but you'll probably find it easier to jump on and off again rather than crossing the central square.Here's where your robodroid begins its minesweeping manoeuvres. And if it strays from the path, you'll justhave to leave the room and start again.The robodroid spins into action, antennae flashing. OK, so it looks like a pudding basin with ears but you'd be sunk without it.The mines blocking your exit may be a minor problem for the robodroid - but they mean major surgery for you. So, watch out if you come rushing in from this door.
"Top of the bleep world, ma.!"
Going up - and down. But if you sit here you won't come to any harm. Robots don't get vertigo.These two blocks are elevators like the one you're on, but they offer a one way ticket to destruction. Wait where you are till you reach the bottom then run like hell.If you happen to nut one of the pyramids, you'll end up with a nasty case of concussion - and another life lost.Another thermotec value to add to your collection. This one's just visible, but you'll have to hunt for some behind collapsing blocks.
"One down - 23 more rooms to bleep."
It the matching thermotec valve isn't here, you'll just have to go and find it. And remember that you can only carry four at one time.This pile of rubble started life as a column. But the only way you're going to reach the socket is to knock it down and start clambering.The activation socket flashes on and off showing you which shape valve to plug in. Once it's in, the room goes white and, bingo, you're ready for the off again.This bunch of stiffs is the future master race. (Some future - Ed.) But only if you can activate all 24 rooms of them before your time runs out.
"Ride him, cowbleep."
The travelling Toffos are your only hope of escape. Try and position them between you and the sparkler and then make a mad dash for freedom.Bronco-bustin' an alien sparkler is a tricky business. It's either bucking you onto the boulders or trying to scramble you along with the egg-shells.You won't get to work on one of these eggs. Even when the aliens have hatched their shells can still do you some damage.Another valve, so jump on the sparkler and use it as a springboard to give you a leg-up onto the blocks. The masonry will disintegrate and you're there.
"Going up - my CPU's in my speech unit"
What do you get when you cross a dalek with Mickey Mouse? Whatever it is, it'll probably look very like this.C'mon level with me - the perspective makes it tricky in some rooms to tell if the doors are on the floor or up in the air.It's lucky your cybot's made of heavy metal - you'll need all his head-banging skill to move this block and release the dalek.Prepare for another elevating experience. Entice the dalek off his perch, hop on and you've got lift off.