I've been waiting for WAR with a feeling of intense anticipation. After previewing it a couple of months ago, I knew that, when the call came, I wouldn't be backward in going to the front!
WAR - set in the reaches of space where a mechanical world, formed from an enormous chain of cylinders, snakes its way through the eternal darkness. To create such an incredible artificial environment, complete with factories, power stations, cities even, takes a fantastic level of technical advancement. The aliens have that talent.
But they're also consumed by a desire for conquest. Everything that lies in the path of their spiralling home is prey to their bloodlust. And they've set a course for Blackburn... for Birmingham... for Bognor. For (wouldja believe?) Earth!
The action takes place in a long, central window. The super space lighter is free to move up and down, as well as across, and it doesn't take long to discover that if you're too far up the screen you don't have time to react to the waves of enemy craft that rain down on you.
You must blast away franti-cally, just to clear a path that's free front collisions. But if you have a moment to spare, go in for some vandalism and give the surface fittings a little GBH. Nothing senseless about this attack on valuable property... your mission is to disable the cylinder worlds, and if at first you don't succeed you'll be sent back to try again.
Ouch! There goes my first life! Time to take a breather and let's get tactical. Up till this point WAR has been a fairly straightforward blast 'em up, but here's the touch that lifts it out of the son-of-son-of-son-of-Space invaders school. You can trade in your score for additions to your ship.
No, I'm not talking about Rachael and Gwyn window strips and fluffy dice. These are goodies like Photon Lasers and Rear Phasers, just the sort of things that would really supercharge a Cortina.
It's just like collecting trading stamps. Of course, you'll need more points for the really good stuff. 10,000 even gets you an extra life, it's up to you whether you add one of the lower power accessories, or save up for a more devastating addition to your arsenal.
POW! I've lost my last life. Time to come back to earth and get critical for a moment. How does WAR rate in the Rachael Hall of Fame? Pretty good. It's nicely presented, right down to the alien type-face, that'll keep you puzzling over your high score for ages. And the trading side is a great plus.
Sadly though, its singularly lacking in sound. A pity when at last the Spectrum is capable is giving its noisier neighbours a run for their money. On the plus side, you get two versions of the game - for Rookies and Captains.
But the acid test has to be the comparison with Uridium. It shares so many similarities that it would be ridiculous to ignore them. And - sorry, Martech - but Hewson's classic just has the edge. Uridium is close to being the perfect zapping game.
But don't get me wrong. WAR is still a whole lot of fun. So strap me back into my armchair. I'm off to nuke the nasties again. Well, somebody has to save Bognor, don't they?
Old Galaxians never die, they just get bonus points in WAR. These are familiar little devils, aren't they. It's a good plan to buy side mounted lasers, or accelerate out of the way.
Oooop! Yikes! These ships move very fast, so you'd better be real quick on the trigger, or aim for gaps in their assault. Many a high flying pilot has ended up as pixeldust by not being fast on the tiller!