Mighty battle machines roll out of high production factories, across a barren strip of land against a ruthless, alien enemy. Could this be the face of wars of the future? More importantly, could this be the face of wargames of the future?
Nether Earth is something new in the field of strategy. It combines a sophisticated test of resources and supply management with the challenge of battle tactics - then crowns it all with a simple menu system and impressive 3D graphics. Those maps of Waterloo will never seem the same again.
There's enough here to satisfy the hard core thinker, though it may never replace the historically accurate simulation in the traditionalist's heart. But there's also enough fast moving fun to tempt anybody who's previously been put off by the apparently arcane complexities of doing battle on a Spectrum.
The plot is simple. Our enemy is the Insignian invasion force, which is marching in from the East. Meanwhile, at the Western end of the battlezone lies our Warbase, where the battle robots are assembled.
But a Warbase is of little use unless it's supplied with the raw components, so the first thing you have to do is send your initial batch of robots out to secure neutral factories. These'll be fairly slow and basic droids, but as the supply points roll in you'll be able to assemble more complex models, replacing the clumsy bi-pod movement with anti-gray manoeuvrability and short range cannons with devastating missiles. Fluffy dice and go faster stripes are not available though.
Giving commands is simple. You skim around the area in a small craft that can also be used for reconnaissance, landing on either the Warbase heli-pad or a robot's head. This opens up a menu, which in turn may lead to a sub-menu, and you can either issue orders or take direct command of an android, while it wears you like a toupee.
The eventual aim is to thin down the enemy's defences, while containing its advance, then nuke the Insignian Warbases. For this you'll need twenty supply points for the warhead alone. These things don't come cheap, you know!
Nether Earth blends the relentless drive of American Football with a management game, great graphics and some useful sound effects to warn you of battles. There's literally nothing quite like it.
Use your hovercraft to keep an eye on what's happening. This is a track-making factory, and you can see from its roof that it's ready to contribute to the war effort.
Bi-pod robots, armed with low cost cannons, are cheap and expendable early on. Bit this type of chassis would be no good over the uneven terrain at the bottom of the screen.Time is ticking away but its all to your advantage, More supply units are produced with every day that passes. As the game can be quite long, there's a Save option, too.Don't neglect the intelligence reports that appear in this status window. They'll tell you just how strong the Insignian challenge is, and the state of your offence. The command menus appear here too!The radar screen is limited in its range, bit it can still warn you of invaders, or your droids getting stuck in bad conditions.