DNA: The Variety of Life logo

Andy Smith perked up when offered a blast of Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid - until he realised it was a simple wargame.

Imagine a mix between the first couple of Valhalla games and Laser Squad. Now you've got a mental picture of what Applaud Software's first full Amiga game looks like.

Now imagine trying to play a game that's a mix between the first couple of Valhalla games and Laser Squad. That's pretty much what playing Applaud Software's first full Amiga game is like.

It's a turn-based strategy game. Of sorts. You control two characters - a human and a cyborg - who have to fight their way through some 36 one-screen sectors which are populated with some mutant aliens.

Your characters have a limited number of action points which can be spent doing 'things' during your turn. Things like walking, turning round, or punching the enemy. But beware, you've only very few few action points so don't plan anything like: walk over here, punch this alien twice, move back down here, because the furthest you're likely to get is a short walk to stand in front of the first enemy alien and your points run out. Then it's their go.

But what's all this gene business you've read about? Well, genes are like power-ups. Kill a baddie, pick up the remaining genes, spend a couple of turns researching the effects of the gene and if you like what it does (provides you with shield in one instance) you can introduce it into your character. Sounds like a splendid idea. Except it's not been very well implemented.

For a start you seem to spend a lot of action points picking up genes you've already researched before and secondly the genes you do find don't go far enough to help you out. The difficulty curve is way too steep. Sure, this means you have to think about your moves when you're playing each sector - but actually what you spend your time doing is trying to have one of your characters run (run! Hobble slowly more like...) around the screen as a decoy while your more injured (both characters are usually in a bad way when you begin each sector) character tries to grab some energy-replenishing food and medi-kits.

This looks awful and has some major gameplay flaws. Hopefully DNA 2 (if there is one) will be more fun to play and better value for money. This one isn't.

Out now from:
Applaud Software * 33 York Roard Church Gresley * Swadlingcote Derby * DE11 9Qc