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1988
Adventure: Graphic
£9.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

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86,87
Bob Wade
Chris Bourne

Incentive walk like an Egyptian.

Anyone who hasn't heard of the Freescape programming system must have been living on the moons of Evath for the last 18 months. In the hands of the creative team at Incentive it turns out solid 3D environments in which all manner of adventures have been taking place.

Take a wander back in time to 1930, to a world in peril. Mankind is threatened by an ancient curse - if, at any time of the day, the sun is prevented from shining on an Egyptian shrine at the top of a pyramid, whatever prevents the light from reaching the shrine will go boom. Unfortunately there's about to be an eclipse, and that means it's the moon that is going to go boom, causing an awful lot of life-terminating problems for the people on Earth.

Being a right little Indiana Jones, you've flown in by biplane to the pyramid and are going to have a crack at getting to the shrine and removing the curse. All before the eclipse happens and the tea gets cold in the pot.

As well as the Freescape view of the surroundings, the main display contains a number of informative icons. The top of the screen shows the number of Ankhs being carried (these ancient artifacts act as keys) and the value of treasure collected, and contains a picture that shows how near the eclipse is. At the bottom of the screen a message window gives details of the location and reports on events as they happen, and below that is a watch that shows exactly how much time remains before disaster strikes, a water-bottle, a heartbeat meter, and a compass.

There are a number of ways of goofing things up on the quest - such as running out of time, agitating your heart so that you have a heart attack, or encountering an instantly terminal trap. The heartbeat is speeded up by falling off things, running out of water or getting attacked by the automatic defence systems.

The overall mission objective is to get to the shrine at the top of the pyramid, but in order to provide an ongoing measure of progress (and make the adventure worthwhile) treasure can be picked up along the way.

The puzzles are similar in nature to those in Driller, but everything is much more compact. It's not a matter of exploring large open areas, but one of mapping a complicated maze of rooms packed with objects. Much of the uneventful travel between places that you have in Driller and Dark Side is eliminated, concentrating both the mind and gameplay.

Your "interface" with objects is again conducted in two main ways: shoot them or walk up to them. There's the same freedom of movement to look up and down, crouch or do U turns and there is also a handy option to re-orientate yourself to face forward - it saves a lot of time spent messing about after having a good look round a room.

The early rooms are full of relatively easy puzzles to solve, getting you comfortably into the action. It's not just a matter of finding one correct solution either... there are a number of ways of solving most situations, giving a welcome flexibility to the gameplay.

It's hard to go wrong with the Freescape system, which is ideally suited for producing absorbing games. Total Eclipse is nearer to a standard arcade adventure than the previous games in terms of exploration and puzzle solving, and Freescape gives it the winning edge.

Reviewer: Bob Wade

RELEASE BOX
Spectrum, £9.95cs, £14.95dk, Out Now
Amstrad, £9.95cs, £14.95dk, Out Now
C64/128, £9.95cs, £12.95dk, Imminent
16-bit versions under development

Predicted Interest Curve

1 min: 80/100
1 hour: 85/100
1 day: 90/100
1 week: 92/100
1 month: 70/100
1 year: 20/100

Freescape isn't as initially exciting these days, but there's all the addiction and challenge you can handle.

7/10
2/10
7/10
6/10
902/1000

Banner Text

SPECTRUM VERSION

The stippling, one colour effect has never been as effective as the multi-colour modes of other versions, but it still looks good. Precious little way of sound effects again.

AMSTRAD VERSION

In the year or so that Freescape has been around nobody has come up with a competitor for its graphic style. It's as distinctive and impressive as ever.

Graphics: 8/10

Audio: 2/10

IQ Factor: 7/10

Fun Factor: 6/10

Ace Rating: 907/1000

Predicted Interest Curve

1 min: 75/100

1 hour: 80/100

1 day: 90/100

1 week: 90/100

1 month: 70/100

1 year: 20/100

Screenshot Text

Amstrad - that's your bi-plane parked outside the pyramid at the start of the game. Head through the door to start adventuring.

Amstrad - inside the pyramid. Going from top to bottom you get some idea of the massive range of views available as you wander about.

Right - the same view (different angle) on the Spectrum. It may not be as colourful, but it's as playable.

Amstrad - could she be the key to a puzzle?

The number of Ankhs in your possession.

The amount of treasure you have collected so far.

This icon shows how close the moon is to eclipsing the sun.

The compass shows you which direction you are facing.

Your heart. The faster it beats the closer you are to a cardiac arrest.

Your water flask. It needs to be continually refilled to keep you alive.

The watch showing the time. The eclipse occurs at 10am.