Firebird's adventures in its Silver range started off well with The Helm and Subsunk - both Quilled and both nice and cheap at £1.99.
The latter, if the contents of the Gordo Helpline is anything to go by, has been quite a success. I certainly thought it was fairly complex.
No doubt heartened by all this consumer approval, Firebird has now issued the follow-up to Subsunk in the shape of Seabase Delta. Like its predecessor it's written on the Quill and continues the story where Subsunk left off.
Ace cub reporter Ed Lines - I groaned last time so I'll groan again - managed to send off the 'Mayday' message from the stranded nuclear sub Sea-Lion. Regrettably, instead of winging its electronic way to Admiralty Arch, the message has been intercepted by the unspecified enemy. Their agents have now used some weird and wonderful tractor beam to pull the long-suffering Sea-Lion into their Delta base.
Sighing at his bad luck and no doubt aware that his editor will never give him the overtime he's earned, our Ed climbs out of the sub's main hatch into the tubular walkway of Seabase Delta.
There is an eerie silence and at the end of the walkway a dead enemy agent and a briefcase. A search of the case quickly reveals that a strange and virulent virus has destroyed the personnel in the base. Villainous to the end the enemy have targeted one of their missiles on a suitable British base and left the computer in control of the base.
Ed's task is to get the computer off-line and de-activate whatever mechanisms control the missile.
The game is very open - most of the base is accessible right from the beginning, apart from the places where the games' deepest secrets are hidden. There are vast numbers of objects to puzzle over and many cryptic clues. The object collection is very varied, ranging from the mundane day-to-day necessities like flour and video-game machines to the components of a diving suit. Just as in Sunsunk many of these will need to be combines or used in specific ways to resolve particular tasks.
The base itself has a fairly complicated internal geography, consisting mainly of a series of circular towers connected by a motorised tubeway. Each tower has its function - crew quarters, computer centre and weapons control area - and there are a number of floors to each unit, connected by regularly malfunctioning lifts. There are also conveyor belts that rarely travel in the direction you want unless you do risky repair jobs, as well as an occasional chute to slide down.
There's loads of business to do and plenty of things to fool around with. You will need a plastic card to authorise your travel on the tubes, you can try and make pancakes in the mess or find a token to play the video machine. Alternatively you can drown yourself in the airlock by accident - this place is underwater, remember?
Surprisingly, the graphics are full-screen and do take a while to draw. It's hard to see why the authors didn't use The Patch to make faster half-screen pictures. However, there aren't too many anyway so the intrusion is kept to a minimum. The text itself is at a fairly basic level but the structure of the base, the travel system and the many messages and objects provide an atmosphere in their own right.
The jokey approach also helps to keep your spirits up and you will find yourself quickly caught up in the game.
Reviewer: Richard Price
Leaves you with the feeling of having got value for money. Ranks well up in the cheapo games section.
The document found on the dead scientist.
A base corridor.
The tubeway platform, familiar to all who've waited in vain on the Northern Line.