PRETTY CLEVER aliens, the lot in Komplex - they've built a vast maze of a city to test our resources. Naturally you're unable to resist the challenge, so it's into the mazes of Komplex City for another bash at convincing the aliens of humanity's superiority.
Legend's series of shoot-'em-ups got off to a shaky start with Komplex, but the sequel more than redeems earlier disappointments. Komplex City is fast, long, and, as its name suggests, complicated.
The maze of tunnels has over 65,000 intersections, and there are several trillion possible mazes - you can change them by typing in a name for the maze at the beginning. Then, every time you use the same name you will get the same maze.
To help you there are a number of on-screen scanners and the like. The long and short range scans show how far away from the targets you are - there are 11 to collect.
Another display shows what lies just ahead in the tunnels. At each intersection you can choose your direction, or whether to go into hyperdrive. You may also get an opportunity to increase your score, make a short jump or restore your shields - with the exception of jump, those involve maximising the size of bar graphs or the amount of green on the screen. It is what lies ahead in terms of shields, score bonuses or jumps that is shown on the display, and you will have to plan carefully to make the best use of those options.
Hyperdrive is great fun. The screen suddenly bursts into colour and various mushroom-like baddies come at you. Some are animated, with ports opening and guns extending to blast you. Hyperdrive is costly on the shields, but vital for completion of the game in less than a month.
The tunnels themselves are done in wireframe graphics, with aliens coming at you at some speed. While there is little new about the graphics style it is extremely effective, and the flashes and various stuttering sounds indicating gunfire or damage are not so obtrusive as to hurt the eyes - a boon to reviewers at the end of a long week of zapping. You can switch off the sound or the flashes anyway.
One particularly good feature is the autopilot, which actually plays the game for you and can be cut in at any time. It's not a very skilled autopilot, and you will have little trouble in doing better yourself, but it does provide a good way of learning how the game is played.
Legend has clearly put a lot more care into Komplex City than into recent products, and that attention to detail has paid off. You probably won't want another shoot-'em-up this side of Christmas.
Joystick: Sinclair, Cursor, Kempston, AGF