Dive, dive, dive! After a break of some nine months Jon Lemmon of Compass Software has taken the plunge and released this nautical game which has more twists and turns than yer average episode of Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea! Pulling on my oilskins and battening down the hatches, I prepared to take the plunge into the murky depths...
The game revolves around Captain Alan Henson who has to locate a sunken experimental submarine - The ZX3. This vessel was so experimental that it was manned (?) by androids. "So what?" you squeal! Well pipe me aboard Captain, if they haven't gone and malfunctioned en masse and are now busy arming the mega-nuclear missiles that the ZX3 was carrying. Gulp! Casting doubts aside, you hop into the one man mini-sub (Anttilis) that stands on the deck of the support ship HMS Endeavour and prepare to sort those droids out, disarm the missiles and make the ZX3 safe. 14 miles down and a few minutes later you reach the stricken sub and the battle against the loony droids begins.
For the first ten minutes or so you'll find yourself trying to avoid the attentions of an android who's got a severe case of radiation poisoning. If you should find yourself infected at any stage of the game then there are decontamination chambers dotted around. You can check your internal radiation level (IRL) if you find a handy scanner. This device shows you, via a visual information panel that appears from the top of the screen in true 16-bit-pull down-menu style, just what the state of your body is. It also gives you info on the state of various aspects of the sub too - so you can see at a glance just what repairs need be done, and in what order.
There's a strong strategy element here. You have to disarm missiles, avoid radiation hot spots and deal with problem droids etc. All this takes quite a bit of working out, and then there are the traditional problems to overcome too. The vocabulary is well thought out which makes adventuring that much easier. The start of the game is unusually gentle (unusual for a Compass game at any rate) and there's no set time limit either, which is fine by me.
Plenty of surprises await the unwary - check out the large perspex box you find, and expect a visit from a giant Cephalopod too! Add to that a load of sound and screen effects and you've got an exciting and highly unusual game.
The first submarine was built in 1563 from six mature oaks, ten tonnes of pewter and five tubs of plaster. It took a team of 20 highly experienced workmen at least ten hours to build it. It sunk. Unfortunately if didn't come up again.