The world is in a very dodgy state. What with the whales being killed, the ozone layer still being depleted by CFC's and all sorts of nasty things in the soil, we (the human race) have got a problem. Of course, even when the seas are lifeless pools of pollution and the once verdant pastures are arid deserts, we'll still have computer games. Hurrah!
However, I doubt very much that we will be playing Burntime. It could be a bit close to home, because it's all set in a distinctly unpleasant future, where the radiation-
The human race has been reduced to scouring the earth for food, where the only edible things are maggots, snakes, rats and dogs. Not a McDonalds in sight. What a hellish vision of our future this is.
Anyway, you, as the brave and courageous hero, intend to bring some sort of order to this anarchic wold by taking over the various cities and settlements with your military colleagues.
You start off with an army of one (you), and you have to wander the land trading, hunting and attempting to persuade people to join your party. As you gradually build up a following, you occupy settlements and lead your band of happily psychopathic warriors on a quest for truth, justice and a slightly less maggoty way of life.
Burntime certainly has an interesting premise, and there is plenty of opportunity for adventure in the wide range of settlements spread around the globe. It's a pity, then, that the process of moving around a settlement looks rather like something from an old Spectrum game.
You get your group (or individuals) to move by clicking on the destination, but the characters are rather dim - they often get stuck behind an obstacle, leaving them wandering around in circles. This is incredibly irritating, especially when you're looking to do over a mutant who made a rude gesture in your direction.
Other options (such as instruction one of your band to guard a site or to separate form the main group) are available from a menu which appears when you click on the right mouse button. This can also put you into either talk or fight mode. Clicking on any of the other characters on the screen with the left button carries out the appropriate action, which comes down to either blasting the mutants or chatting nicely.
This control method is rather difficult to get the hang of, but once you get your brain around it, it's not too bad. However, this game is rather irritating in other ways. For instance, if you inadvertently set out on a trip with insufficient water, you die. No warnings, no chance to turn back, just a screen that informs you that you are deader than a very dead thing. This is incredibly infuriating, especially when you've just left a place with more water than you could carry.
Burntime is an intriguing game with an undeniable hook to it. However, it unfortunately fails to bring the various elements of combat and strategy together, leaving something of a mess. The overall experience is atmospheric, but it really fails to drag you in.