Interesting enough, this month I had to set things up to review just two'heavyweight' games, both of which are menu driven.
However, while Alien definitely live up to, and even exceeds expectations, The Tripods does not. The packaging is nice (as indeed is Alien's) and include a large full-colour map of France, showing the various rivers and the White Mountains, your destination. But I began to have doubts about the game when I started reading the instruction booklet. It promised lots of interaction with NPCs (non-player characters) but said nothing about how this was going to take place. Not to worry, I though, all will probably be revealed in the game itself. This did not transpire.
There is a basic menu, consisting of looking left or right, moving, eating and getting status reports on helath and possessions. There are also options to pick up or not to pick up objects - you cannot drop objects. A special menu comes up when there are Tripods around - you can look left or right, move, or try to dazzle it, try to disorientate it, or examine your pack. Great, I thought, I just happened to have found a grenade lying around earlier, let's try and blow one of its legs off. But I was not able to get the pineapple out of my pack, let alone fragmentise the machine with it. This same problem seemed to apply to all sorts of other things as well - for example, there are shops dotted all over the place, and you carry money with you.
Foolishly, I jumped to the conclusions that you would be able to into these shops and buy things. Well, apparently you can't; perhaps you have to find a translator (a babel fish perhaps?) first, but there is nothing to give you a clue. While this is quite acceptable, indeed half the fun, in a text-interpretive adventure, in a ten input menu driven game, it seems obfuscatory to say the least.
That you can't apparently do very much in the game is not its only shortcoming. The graphics also leave a lot to be desired. Red Shift have gone for their own 'landscaping' system, giving them (I would guess) several thousand views in the game. Each part of the picture is well drawn - there are four or five different kinds of trees, loads of different buildings, bridges, marshes and so on - but they are assembled to form pictures that throw perspective out of the window. There are also a series of graded lines drawn across the top of each picture, which I presume are intended to enhance the overall three-dimensional feel of the picture - I found them messy and irritating to look at; the drawing time of the pictures is not fast; and this is a complaint which applies to the whole game - response time is far too slow. Most of the game is written in BASIC, which means you get these tedious pauses between pressing a key and being able to do something else. And occasionally, for example when you come across a Tripod and need to move fast, these delays make effective gameplay impossible. I gather that The Tripods was going to be the game that would revive a rather ailing Red Shift but I have the feeling that it may be their death warrant instead.
Overall Verdict: However much you liked the TV series, don't buy this game. You'd be better of waiting for Ocean's Frankie.