It's not often that you find a game as close to perfection as this one. In fact, it's so hard to fault Intensity that for once I don't think I'll bother. So here goes: the world's first totally, utterly positive review...
What we have here is the newie from Graftgold, the guys behind Uridium. Like most of their other stuff it's highly original, so I'm going to have to explain it from scratch. Let's start with the plot, just for a change.
One of Earth's colonies has come under attack from some fiendsh aliens and the colonists on board have decided to abandon ship, as the space station is rapidly disintegrating. Their only escape route is via one of five shuttles, and these can only be reached with a drone craft, which in turn is guided by you in your skimmer.
Allow me to elaborate. The colonists leap out of their little holes in the ground one at a time. It's your job to make sure the drone craft is in the right place to pick them up, by marking landing spots for it. It will then fly in more or less a straight line to that place, so you'll have to make sure it doesn't hit any walls, or aliens on the way.
Ah yes, the aliens. They had to come into it somewhere, didn't they? When an alien first appears it's relatively harmless. But if left long enough, it'll gradually mutate into various gruesome nasties which could do untold damage to the drone. It's therefore wise to dispose of them as fast as possible by bashing into them with your skimmer. If the drone takes too many hits it'll blow up, along with any colonists on board. But once you've picked up enough peeps, move the drone to the exit and you'll be able to jump to the next screen.
The way the playing area is organised is t'riffic. The map is split into five levels, each of varying difficulty, which are all split into sixteen screens. The last screen contains the shuttle to freedom. As well as jumping to the next screen in the row, you can also jump between the five levels for a bit of added spice. The route you take at the end of each screen is determined by the number of scientists you pick up before exiting, and this means there are endless ways of finishing the game, some easy, some appallingly hard. The first person to map it all out deserves a knighthood!
As you can probably imagine, the graphics are all excellent. Being static rather than scrolling, an incredible amount of detail has been packed into each screen, and the animation is stunning! And as you need to keep track of both the skimmer and the drone, along with all the aliens, colonists and other things, you'll need at least 47 eyes glued to various parts of the screen if you're going to stand any kind of a chance.
But if all that sounds complicated, you ain't heard nothin' yet. As you rescue each colonist a little R-shaped sprite pops onto the screen. Pick it up and you gain one resource unit. After each screen, or after losing a life, you're given the opportunity to order new skimmers and drones. Naturally the best ones are the most expensive, and also take longer to deliver.
Even with the great graphics and the multitude of things to do, Intensity could (a one in 40,000,000 chance, admittedly) have turned out to be a bit of a cucumber. But nope. What really makes it compulsive is the way that all its elements work together to keep you totally absorbed. The fast, polished gameplay ties it all together nicely and as there are so many different ways to get to the end it'll take you weeks to explore all the possibilities, starting with the piddlingly peasy-weasy ways and building up to the meanest route, but with the highest score.
To tell the truth, I'm totally hooked! Intensity is a definite contender for Game Of The Year (yep, another one) and a compulsory purchase.
Intensity will have you hooked from the moment you get your finger round the joystick!
One of the easier screens, believe it or not! The skimmer is the little round thing with the blobs around it, and the sparkly clouds are the nerrty leetle aliens. The bit surrounded by arrows is the exit, and the number at the bottom left is my score, not my pulse.
This is a map of the game which pops up between levels. The filled in parts show where I've been so far, going from left to right. You'll notice that the difficult screens at the top are all blank, of course.