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Activision Inc
Strategy: War
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Owen Bishop, Audrey Bishop
Chris Bourne

SDI (Ronnie's Star Wars) is a controversial topic, and Activision is out to make a few dollars from the debate. High Frontier is a strategic wargame in which you build your own (or rather Uncle Sam's) SDI system from scratch. Before you start on the hi-tech, you have to get your own low-tech sorted out - like which keys to press if you don't happen to be using a joystick. To save you 10 minutes of frustration, fire is 'V', the up-down cursor keys move the cursor right and left (the left-moving key is on the right and the right-moving key is on the left) and the left-right cursor keys move the cursor up and down. Still with us? Fine! Because that's all that is wrong with this otherwise well-produced, competent game.

Study the manual before you start - its full of clear and helpful information, photos and advice. You play the busy director of a mighty organisation. You begin with the World Screen which displays the calendar and is the main icon-driven menu, from where you reach the screens showing the activities of the many departments of your organisation. When a department has news for you, its icon is highlighted on the World Screen. Or maybe your hot-line from the President is ringing. You're advised to answer this pretty smartly and key in a response to his messages, repetitive though they may be.

The other screens for the main game are: Research and Development, in which you allocate funds and staff to develop SDI systems of various kinds (your choice); and Espionage and Reconnaissance, where you finance agents and spy satellites to obtain vital information about enemy weapon stocks. The Threat Screen shows the disposition of enemy forces, and estimates the probability of an attack; the SDI Command Screen, launches and arms your SDI weapons after they've been brought to readiness and the Attack Display on which the final conflagration occurs. There's plenty to look at, nice neat graphics and a control system that is easy to learn and operate.

The Orbit Screen is intended for the trigger-happy ones among us. It's not part of the main game, but you can enter it from the main game, or play it by itself. The graphics are clever but it's really only a very simple shooting-gallery.

Summing-up, High Frontier is a realistic simulation, and if you like a game based on the idea of building something that you hope never to use, then it comes highly recommended!