A few months ago I raved over The Serfs Tale from Smart Egg Software, published by Players, and I know from the helpline letters that lots of you have bought and enjoyed it... If tearing your hair out is a sign of enjoyment. Now the Smart Eggs have hatched another game, courtesy of Mastertronic, so this one is likely to be even more widely available. It's not quite up to Serfs Tale's megagame standard, but there's only a whisker in it, it's still an ace adventure.
It tells the story of Harper and Elliot, one of the great newsgathering teams of the 22nd century. They're covering the Re-Unification War and are sent to Rigel V, which is still holding out against the Federation troops. Sounds almost as dangerous as being at YS when the sandwich man arrives. It seems there's a bomb on Rigel V, Elliot's been smuggled in to find it and you play Harper, joining him soon after.
Not soon enough though, because when you find him he's on the verge, of snuffing it. But before he does, he manages to croak: "Go east across town. Cross no-man's land. Find device, disarm it... but beware android guard... Find my light-guide - buried in copse - use it to..." Well, you'll have to figure out how to use it for yourself, because Elliot, at this point, pops his clogs.
Pausing only to give him a decent burial, off you go to check out the hostile town around you. A piece of advice - read the loading screen carefully otherwise you'll never even get the game started. The first problem's a bit too sneaky for my taste. I like my clues to be in the game itself, not printed on the screen when I'm elsewhere making a cup of coffee! There seemed to be sudden deaths all round too, and I thought I was going to hate the game. But then I realised the deaths had all been signposted if only I'd been careful, and this set me on my toes for later signs of danger.
There aren't too many graphics in the game, but they are very well done. Mostly they come up when you examine things, like a door and a gun early on, and as well as being detailed they also often contain a clue as well, so keep your eyes peeled. The problems are tricky, and might prove too tricky for some as they do require a bit of inspired guesswork. In one place PULL BAR helps a little, but PULL BAR HARD helps a lot. Some of the problems also involve coming up with a sequence of commands.
It's a game worth buying, with many of the routines being very convincing - bullets rain as you walk the streets, and you have to dive down into a basement out of the way, or a pack of dogs sets about chasing you. Breathlessly you try to outrun them. A touch of thriller-writing about the text, and this two-part tale is probably Mastertronic's best Speccy adventure yet.