He ain't heavy...

Gravity logo

GRAVITY has a lot to answer for you know. Every time I get on the bathroom scales they scream for mercy, but if there was, say, half Earth gravity my weight would be quite acceptable. You can't go too far and wish for no gravity though. For one thing the Earth's atmosphere would take a hike, and for another your cereals wouldn't stay in the bowl at breakfast time.

So gravity, in some form or another, is a good thing. Now then, what do you know about Newton's Law of Gravitation and Einstein's General Theory of Relativity? If you're the smarmy pseudo intellectual type who bought Stephen Hawking's book because you thought you were doing your bit for the disabled and anyway it was all rather cosmic, you probably know nothing at all.

However, if you did read the book - and it was heavy going in places - then you undoubtedly know what I'm talking about. If so, skip the next few paragraphs.

So what the hell are you on about Duncan? I hear you asking. Well obviously I don't actually hear you asking, unless you happen to be reading this review aloud one day in WH Smiths and I'm stood next to you. However, it serves as a lead into a short lecture on the subject in hand.

The Space Time Continuum is what it's all about. This is a four dimensional (your usual three, plus time) model of, well, the universe and everything. Planets and suns are like heavy balls on the rubber sheet of spacetime. Naturally, they sink into the rubber a bit, causing gravity wells.

Anything reaching the edge of the well is bound to be attracted because of gravity. And it's downhill as well. Heavy suns, your white dwarfs and red giants have large gravity wells, but heaviest of all are black holes.
These are collapsed suns, infinitely heavy in the centre. They naturally have great big gravity wells. In fact, they are so heavy, that scientists postulate that your metaphorical ball on the rubber sheet distorts space so that it actually reaches somewhere else in the spacetime continuum.
This hole leading elsewhere is known as a singularity, and perhaps, just perhaps, one day we might have the technology to ride down the singularity and come out at the other end. Alive and not terminally squashed.

Which leads me to the game Gravity, which uses a very attractive display of the spacetime continuum, complete with suns and planets and black holes and gravity wells.

If you want to jump from one end of space to another, down the gravity well of the black hole you go. This is the future. A future where man is colonising the stars and terraforming the planets.
This is also where the Outies come in. Horrible alien life forms that they are, they have decided to eradicate us before your own team of xenophobes eliminates them.
We do this to each other by blasting apart our ships with a variety of weapons, and by turning the opposing team's sun into a black hole or a black hole into a sun.

The Outies get Ready Brek from heavy radiation from black holes, so if they turn the sun where your home base is into a black hole, you're scuppered. Equally, if you manage to turn their black hole into a sun they are kebabbed.

To aid in this quest of galactic genocide, you have a fleet of 15 ships, which can be ordered around to investigate, explore, fight aliens and colonise worlds. If the ship you are on is blasted to bits, you automatically transfer to another one. Thus this is a very tactical game rather than a romp around the galaxy killing things.
Think first, then go and nuke 'em.

To aid in the process you have drone ships, which can be programmed by an icon-driven language. It isn't too hard to get the hang of but when you start off it can be confusing.
This applies to the game in general, thanks to a manual which describes all the systems - defence, weapons, orders, the dreadful 3D map in the Holotank, tools for terraforming and colonising planets - but nothing about how you actually do these things.

And when something doesn't appear on a menu when the manual says it is on that menu, you start to wonder what the hell is going on.
Hours of frustration mark the beginning of the game. A quick tip if you're looking for a singularity to go down is to follow the dark blue line on the long range scanner; the brown ones lead to suns and planets.

Once you get into the game, though, you'll admire the rolling spacetime graphics, tense every time an alien starts blasting away, and stare in horror when you lose the game and look upon a picture of someone's head melting.

But you'll also be irritated by the fiddly control, unimpressed by the way the control panels jerkily scroll on the screen, and eventually, eventually, play the game long enough to realise that Gravity is a tactical wargame with flash graphics and all action combat scenes.

But to be honest, it is not that interesting. Gravity ain't heavy at all.

Gravity logo Amiga Format Gold

MIRRORSOFT £24.95 * Mouse and Keyboard

Space is big - very big - and very cold too. Since the dawn of time, Man has looked to the heavens and, for one reason or another, wanted to be away from Mother Earth to find out what else is out there.

By the year 2321, we know what's out there. Outies, an alien race keen on colonising our arm of the Galaxy, have appeared and declared war on the human race (who are also keen on colonising our arm of the galaxy - it's our galaxy after all, isn't it?) by turning a sun into a black hole. The reason behind this is that black holes allow instantaneous travel to other parts of the galaxy. The objective is to rid the galaxy of the aliens.

Gravity is a single-player sugar-coated wargame. That means it's essentially a wargame, with bells and whistles to the extent that you're hardly aware you're playing a wargame. You're in direct control of a scout ship and have 15 others at your disposal (other scout craft can be sent on independent missions and you can take control of any one at any time simply by nominating it to be the flagship).

The game is played by accessing various control modules from a main screen. Orders come through from your superiors, StarCom, and then it's down to you how you carry them out. Of the main modules you'll be using the first is the Holotank, a sort of 3D map that allows you to plan routes for craft in your control and also keep an eye on how both yourself and the Outies are doing in building colonies.

Another main module is The Grid, which allows you to see your ship and which is where all the action happens. It's a graphic representation of Einstein-Minkowski four space where height indicates strength of gravitational forces. Then there are modules for controlling drive systems, weapons and so on.

Getting to grips with just issuing orders is complex enough, but things really get intense when you start bumping into Outies. You're armed with basic weaponry, should you wish to take things into your own hands, but by far the best method is to issue orders to your drones. The game contains a whole programming language which allows you to program and release drones which can then take care of themselves (hopefully - it depends how well you programmed them).

For example, you can launch a drone and tell it to just continually orbit a black hole until it detects an alien presence and when it does it goes hell for leather to either destroy the alien or die in the attempt. Of course, more subtle programmes can be created.

It's all very well flying around the galaxy, sending ships on missions and programming drones, but the real object of the game is to build colonies. Without colonies you can't by new equipment, which means the Outies are going to get the upper hand. It's all a question of maintaining a balance between destroying the Outies and increasing man's presence in the galaxy, with colonies acting as the scales.


The sound is perhaps not as good as it could be, being limited to the occasional blast and explosion. The graphics, however, are much better. The module design is good and is easy to use and all the 'real-time' 3D stuff is fine. It does tend to make your Amiga look like an ST, but then so do a lot of games - the real point is whether the graphics do their job properly, which, you'll pleased to find, they do.


There is a multitude of options which you can alter to make your life more complicated, the main one being the amount of work shared between you and StarCom - that is the amount of strategic work you have to do or let StarCom do for you. Let StarCom handle most things while you familiarise yourself with the game. This increases the game's lasting interest substantially, but it was hardly lacking in the first place - it's going to take you a long while to learn to play well.


A lot of work has gone into Gravity. It's highly polished and hangs together very well. It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but if you're prepared to put the effort in (because it takes some effort in the early stages to get to grips and find out just what is happening), you'll find it becomes very involving and very satisfying. Prepare yourself for some long playing sessions. A great game that has been well thought out and well executed.

Gravity logo

Es gibt mal wieder was Neues von Image Works zu vermelden: Die netten Leute, die uns schon mit "Bombuzal" und "Interphase" beschert haben, warten diesmal mit einer recht ungewöhnlichen Spielidee auf, bei der sich alles um die Schwerkraft dreht.

Im Jahre 2320 ist die Raumfahrttechnik so weit fortgeschritten, daß Flüge zu anderen Planeten mit der gleichen Selbstverständlichkeit absolviert werden, wie heute die tägliche Fahrt zur Arbeit.

Alles könnte so schön sein, wenn da nicht eines Tages die "Outies" aufgetaucht wären, merkwürdige Wesen, die am liebsten pure Energie konsumieren. Nachdem dieser leckere Stoff besonders konzentriert in Schwarzen Lochern vorkommt, planen die Outies, alle Sonnen unseres Universums in ebensolche zu verwandeln.

Wie verhindern wir das nun? Wir schnappen uns eines der 16 bereitstehenden Scoutschiffe und kolonisieren damit das Weltall. Mit Hilfe dieser Kolonien lassen sich nicht nur die Outies unter Kontrolle bringen, so nebenbei gibt es dafür auch noch Kohle, sprich mehr Waffen und besseres Equipment.

Gesteuert werden die Schiffchen mit der Maus (über Fenster und Icons), zur Vereinfachung der Bedienung lassen sich einige Funktionen auch per Tastatur aufrufen. Man kann die Dinger sogar programmieren (ähnlich, aber einfacher wie bei "Omega"), so daß man nicht mehr jedes Manöver von Hand erledigen muß.

Für die Kolonisierung gibt es verschiedene "Werkzeuge", ebenso für die Zerstörung der Outie-Stationen und ein paar andere Aufgaben (mit einem dieser Tools kann man sogar neue Planeten erstellen!).

Der Weltraum wird als Glitternetz dargestellt, zur zusätzlichen Orientierung dient der Holotank, eine dreidimensionale Darstellung des galaktischen Spiralnebels.

Das klingt alles sehr abstrakt - und genau das ist es auch! Allerdings läßt sich das "Mischungsverhältnis" von Aktion und Strategie beliebig einstellen; also von 100% Aktion (nur kämpfen) bis 100% Strategie (nur tüfteln). Man muß aber dazusagen, daß das Game selbst auf der absoluten Arcade-Stufe nicht für Shoot 'em up-Fans ist, es ist eindeutig besser für die Denker, Tüftler und Taktiker geeignet. Die dürften sich auch an der ziemlich bescheidenen Grafik (die einzelnen Screens unterscheiden sich nur wenig) und dem, von de ausgezeichneten Anfangsmusik einmal abgesehen, kaum vorhandenen Sound weniger stören als verwöhnte Action-Spezialisten.

Und vielleicht fällt ihnen ja auch eine Erklärung ein, warum der Amiga trotz der mageren Präsentation des Games nahezu andauernd nachladen muß...

Die Bedienung der Raumschiffe funktioniert erstaunlich gut, wenn mir auch in den heißen Gefechtsphasen der Joystick lieber gewesen wäre. Ansonsten ist die Handhabung dank der logisch aufgebauten Menüs sehr einfach, nur an die Abstraktheit der ganzen Angelegenheit muß man sich erst gewöhnen.

Insgesamt ist Gravity ein wirklich ungewöhnliche- und durchdachtes Spiel, das entfernt an "Elite" erinnert. Wer anspruchsvolle und komplexe Taktikgames mag, sollte es auf alle Fälle mal anspielen. (mm)

Gravity logo CU Amiga Screen Star

Image Works
Price: £24.99

What better thing to do than to base an example of that supposedly rare beast, the original game, around the theories of Albert Einstein, one of history's most original thinkers?

Gravity's plot is laden with doom. You are what's left of the human race, dedicated to settling up colonies and making money. This wouldn't be so hard if it were not for the aliens. You need stars to warm your planets, and they're going to turn the very same stars into big black holes.

Most of the time is spent zooming round in one of your spacecraft while the rest of the fleet wait to receive orders from you. Occasionally you encounter the odd alien ship, which, to start with, will be superior to yours. But as colonies grow technologically they provide you with both revenue and upgrades to your ship.

Most of the planets need life support systems. These are provided by programmed probes. If a rock is wholly inhospitable you can use - albeit at cost - the Genesis device (a la Star Trek) which can make anything inhabitable.

Even when a colony has been established there is still the threat of aliens wiping out the sun, so you need to keep a constant eye on all your star systems. Though the aliens appear not to discriminate between systems, it always seems to be one of yours that ends up in darkness.

Rather than the usual bland 2D starfield, Gravity uses vector lines. These mark out gravity fields, and by tracking one you can get from A to B without using engines. Gravity is at its densest around black holes, where the vectors literally drop out the bottom of the screens.

It's a very neat touch when you pop into a hole and reappear a trillion or more miles from the entry point (and it's the only convenient form of interstellar travel).

And neat is a word which sums up this game. It borrows the best form a host of other titles, it's got a random element which does add variety, it's both complex and it's hard to define - yet it's all of this that makes it such fun. Once more Imageworks have come up trumps with an interesting, quirky game.

Gravity is a great new release - it has got to be a must for the thinking games player.

Gravity logo

Imageworks/Mirrorsoft, Amiga £24.99

It's 2320 and the Outies have launched an attack on Mankind's far-flung space empire. To gain energy they're converting colonies into Black Holes. All that stands in their way are 16 Scoutships, led by you of course.

Despite the familiar plot, this is certainly not your average alien-bashing-shoot-'em-up. It's a complex game, so pay attention! The arcade action occurs in Einstein-Minkowski Four-Space, representing space-time as a rubber sheet which dips around stars and planets to show their gravity wells. What this really means is that there's a rather hilly, multi-directionally scrolling playfield!

There are 128 playfields (or solar systems) to explore. You move between them by entering Black Holes, which automatically take you where your latest orders instruct. There are five types of missions:
1) Exploration.
2) Terraforming - colonising planets.
3) Military Action - entering Outie-occupied systems, blasting enemy ships, and turning their Black Holes into suns.
4) Colony Protection - escorting colony ships.
5) Route Construction - establishing Black Holes so you can jump to previously unreachable systems.

Control of your scoutship is relatively simple, with keys recommended. However there are plenty of options, including three types of engine, guns and customised missiles (alter everything from guidance to engine). For defence there are drones (which you can pre-program using flow charts!) and a Black Globe Generator which envelopes baddies in an impenetrable energy field.

Even more important are Tools which can turn a Black Hole into a sun, a planet into a colony, evaporate an Outie Black Hole, ore make a rocky planet inhabitable. Extra equipment can be bought at colonies by earning cash from hits - damage inflicted on either the enemy or yourself!

You start the game at Star Command (StarCom), which can give between 0% and 99% of the vital strategic orders to all the Scoutships (including your own). Should you want to give an order you can use the Holo Tank to examine the galaxy, set markers on stars then select an order (i.e. Explore, Colonize, Skirmish, Conquer, and Convoy). You can assume direct control of any of the ships, and when you die you automatically go to the next ship.

The Outies have three types of ship: Engineer ships (convert suns into Black Holes), Warships (eight types, including Kamikazes and Carriers), and Control/Engineeering Platforms (four sizes, which carry the two previous ship types). These vary considerably in size, and can make life very difficult.

Robin Hogg This strategy/arcade game has more detail crammed into it than almost any other game I can think of. It even gives Midwinter a run for its money on the complexity front, although this does mean a lot of disk accessing when you call up menus. It's also a pity the strategy area isn't more user friendly. As for the arcade element, zapping baddies by rotating left/right, thrusting, and pressing fire is a lot like Asteroids - playable but not astonishing. The massive selection of weapons, programmable drones, and some great baddies add some variety but a lot of the action demands close attention to radar due a very restricted view of surrounding space on the main display. The tactical/strategic element is probably strongest with plenty of ships, planets, and missions to deal with.
Scorelord After struggling through the scenario you might be a little baffled, it's enough to puzzle even me! But underneath all the jargon, Gravity is essentially a strategic shoot-'em-up with plenty of knobs. The core arcade game, with your ship rolling around an isometric playfield shooting off missiles, is hardly astonishing although some enemy graphics are great and the range of weaponry is impressive. The strategy game is very challenging, with plenty of orders and ships to mess about with. An intriguing and innovative game, which some people will love, even though I honestly never got hooked myself.