Liberation logo Amiga Format Gold

Mindscape 0444 246333 * £29.99 * CD32 version reviewed AF55 91%

Well, I am just glad I will be dead by then. Corruption is rife in the 29th Century, Man Utd have won the league again and it costs £496 for a pint of bitter. The world is being exploited by big corporations and, oh God, someone has put Joy Division on the office ghetto blaster (true). I cannot stand it any longer. ("Steve, Steve. Is everything all right?").

Law enforcement droids have gone bonkers and started killing folk and a resultant cover-up ends in innocent folk being framed for the murders and held captive. Corks. Sounds jolly unfair. You have got to get them out. Liberation is an interactive adventure game and it looks fabulous.

The CD32 version received rave notices - the floppy version is five quid cheaper and recognises the AGA chip which enhances the music accordingly. Captivating.

Die Freiheit auf Disk

Liberation logo

Taataaa: Mit dem "Captive"-Nachfolger liegt uns das erste Game vor, das von der Schillerscheibe auf Disk (rück-) konvertiert wurde! Nach der Version für das CD32 nun also die Gegenprobe auf Normal- und AGA Amigas.

Tatsächlich fällt hier zumindest der gröbste Kritikpunkt unter den Tisch, haben Mindscape und Tony Crowther doch endlich für vernünftige Save-Möglichkeiten bei ihrem SF-Rollenspiel gesorgt.

Ansonsten geht es freilich nach wie vor um Mordlust bei Polizeidroiden sowie um inhaftierte Unschuldige, die als Sündenböcke herhalten sollen. Und natürlich um den Ex-Knacki aus "Captive", der mit Hilfe seiner vier ferngesteuerten Robbies einmal mehr für Recht und Ordnung zu sorgen hat.

So steuert man die Blechkumpel also wie gehabt durch diverse städtische 3D-Dungeons, immer auf der Suche nach Keycards, Items und Infos, wobei man letztere entweder aus Rechner-Terminals holt oder anläßlich von Multiple-Choice Gesprächen mit Passanten ergattert. Die Steuerung geriet dabei jedoch ähnlich fragwürdig wie einst am CD32: unmögliches Inventory, fummelige Unterhaltungen und ein gewöhnungsbedürftiges Echtzeit-Kampf-System!

Der inkludierten 1200er-Version sieht man die angeblich wesentlich mehr Farben leider überhaupt nicht an (nur beim Tempo lassen sich Unterschiede erkennen), und der Sound klingt schick wie eh und je.

Ein nettes Feature für HD-Befreieer soll aber nicht unerwähnt bleiben, mit dem man bis zu 71 verschiedene Grafik-Sets für Dungeon-Wände in drei Detailstufen installieren kann - bloß, daß es auf normalen "Freundinnen" ewig und auf 1200ern immer noch stundenlang dauert. Also nach wie vor ein Game, das man schon mögen muß, um es zu mögen... (jn)

Liberation logo

It must be time to use the c-word. Cyberpunk, that is.

In last month's news, we told you that Mindscape had pencilled in a release date for the A1200 version of Liberation - Captive 2 for mid-late February. Well, it's here, bang on time, and I've been given the opportunity to rewrite what Steve F said about the original CD32 version in AP33. This time however, the review will be written in my own inimitable style. If that means anything to you.

The one annoying thing about the situation is that I've got to assume you may not have read the original review. If you have read it, stop reading now and skip the page. If you haven't, there's only one question I want to ask. Why not?

Anyway, onto the game. Liberation is set in a totalitarianish hi-tech city. The thought police have been framing innocent citizens to cover up for the fatal mistakes of their interrogation droids. If the news was leaked to the Emperor, contracts and investments would be at risk. You are a libertarian type chap who objects to all this corporatepowers-that-be nefarious cover-up skullduggery.

To investigate, rather than submit yourself to the drudgery of walking all over a city, you control four pretty versatile droids. These droids are just about literally your eyes, ears and legs; a sort of cybernetic limbic extension of the central nervous system.

The control system is neat and user friendly. You can make the droids do just about anything - walk, run, shoot guns, move through doors, interacts with the denizens of the city, enter buildings, withdraw money from the bank that likes to say "give us your money and we'll smile at you" etc.

You can annoy when you speak to

Another novel ability of the droids is the facility to look at different perspectives of the same view i.e. top down, look up, right and left. Use of this facility will probably be relatively frugal, but it does help clarity whether or not an object is pick-uppable or not.

Interaction with the inhabitants has to be dealt with carefully, the mood that they're in on a particular day can have a bearing on the proceedings. Much like Beneath a Steel Sky, you can annoy who you speak to and they also remember the last conversation entered into with you. So, almost unbelievably for a computer game, you have to enter into that most annoying of social protocols known as etiquette. Pah, the cheek of some programmers.

Yup, I feel compelled to admit, at first when I started playing the game, I figured that this review was going to be the biggest 'On the Other Hand' box that you would ever seen in AMIGA POWER. However, after the initial bewilderment at the size of the city, it became apparent just how big it is. And, just like Steve F in his original CD32 review said, "You never seem to run out of things to do." This game should could with a government health warning that it could seriously damage your social life.

In winding up, I'll give a quick mention to the installation procedure for the hard drive. It's easy to implement and also gives you the option to have up to 71 different texture maps for the walls of the city buildings and interiors.

All this extra detail extracts a heavy payoff in speed though, if you're using a non-accelerated machine slowdown becomes pedestrian. So it's probably best to leave it unless you have an A1200.

I'm not to give this game over 89 per cent due to personal foibles. To play properly takes too much time. Despite that, if I ever find myself with a lazy Sunday afternoon to kill, I'll definitely think about loading up Liberation.

Liberation logo CU Super Star

The world's greatest CD32 game makes it onto the floppies. Tony Dillon wonders how they managed to cram so much in.

What is this? Liberation on five floppy disks? Can't be done, surely? I have played the thing on CD32 for many days and nights, and I can tell you now that it is a monster. An enormous, sprawling city of an adventure, it would take considerably more than a Red Bus Rover to get around this game in a day. There cannot really be any way of doing this on an A500 - convincingly anyway, is there?

Those were my first thoughts on opening the envelope from Burgess Hill that dropped on my desk one cold morning. Fifteen minutes later, I realised how much I had underestimated the skills of Tony Crowther. Liberation on disk is almost identical to Liberation on CD, with the exception of the in-game speech. But, for the moment, let us assume you have not seen the CD version.

Trill, the hero of the original Captive, is now free. At least, free enough to discover a police conspiracy and gets completely caught up in it. The police interrogation robots have some major flaws, and somehow always seem to end up killing the people they are meant to be interrogating. To cover this up, the fuzz are hiding the evidence and planting the blame on many innocent people. As is usual with these games, you are the only person outside the police force who knows this, and as a result they are after you in a big way.

Which leaves you with a couple of simple aims: free all the innocent captives, and expose the police for the treacherous bunch they are. It won't be easy, but then no-one ever said it would be.

Like so many Tony Crowther products, this is a real step away from the norm when it comes to sleuth-style adventure games. Probably the closest thing I can compare it to is Legends Of Valour, in which you start with a basic aim and a couple of addresses, then you are let loose in the city, without any idea of where you are going. In Liberation you start outside the City Records office in the middle of town and from there have to find your way around, and it is surprisingly daunting.

Imagine being dropped in the middle of a strange land without a map or a guide to the local laws and told to find one specific brick in a wall. That should give you some idea of the sheer size of the challenge that faces you. Still, in true 'I know a man who can' tradition, the first thing you need to do is to start questioning people. Unfortunately, the natives look anything but happy or friendly, so even knowing whether to smile or open fire is a challenge in itself. That said, most are willing to engage in conversation with you, if only to tell you to get lost. But, with your meagre bundle of facts and a shortlist of addresses, you have got to start the questions rolling somehow. And hope for some answers.

Before too long though you have contacts, keys and more information than you know what to do with. You arrange meetings with people, walk into traps, take the wrong turning into dark alleyways and do all sorts of other things only found in truly great detective movies. That in itself makes Liberation a great game, but there is so much more to it than that.

For one thing, it looks fabulous. Texture mapped, light-sourced polygons make up all of the people and creatures in the game, as they walk around full colour, texture mapped buildings and streets.

The game has the sort of realism that until now was unseen in this kind of adventure - okay, so it is not Doom, but it is still extremely impressive.

Playing from floppy rather than a hard drive does limit the number of different texture maps available - generally only four different wall patterns are held in memory at any one point whereas playing from hard drive gives you access to 71 different patterns provided you have the space. Even with four different patterns, the way light and colour has been used to show distance makes each room look quite individual.

Legends Of Valour had one flaw, it was the fact that most of the buildings looked the same, so it was easy to get lost. Real cities are not like that, and this game shows how they should be represented.

Through clever use of text, graphics and sound Tony Crowther has managed to create a game that is well paced, tense and incredible addictive. Part of you wants to take it easy and examine every corner, while another part of you wants to keep running, and jumps every time a police droid rounds a corner.

To be honest, the couple of weeks I have had with this game just are not enough to give you a complete review - this is the kind of game you will need to spend at least a month playing before you are fully conversant with it.

This is easily one of the best games I have ever played, and one I will most likely keep returning to for months on end. A very sophisticated game for very sophisticated gamesplayers.


Although Liberation can be run from floppy, try to get hold of a hard drive to see what it really can do. There are big improvements, like faster loading times and better flowing gameplay, while the improved graphics make the game look stunning. Instead of four varieties of wall when a building is loaded, you can have up to 71 different types plus you can decide the detail level of each texture map as it is generated. 'Fast but crude' makes for a smooth frame rate, whereas 'lovely but slow' is exactly the opposite.


There has always been a difficulty in the past when it comes to deciding how an inventory should work. Should you be restricted to a certain number of objects, or should the whole thing be worked out using encumbrance rules. Liberation uses a revolutionary method that says 'if you can get it to fit, you can carry it'. Your backpack has a limited amount of space, and each object you place in takes up some of it. The thing is, you have also got to make sure that once you have the object in the backpack, you can actually slide it out, or you will have to start taking other items out of the way every time you want to use something such as a keycard. It is this attention to detail that makes Liberation as cool as it is.

Liberation CD32 logo CD32 Gamer Gold

Coo lummie, the world's been transformed into some futuristic place that's full of vice, evil and corruption, and it's all done without the Tory party.

Occasionally in life, something happens which is so big that it throws you into a state of temporary dementia and paralysis, and you are unable to carry on in the normal manner. Since I got my grubby mitts on Liberation I have been in one of the aforementioned states. Friends have been cast aside, lovers spurned (well, she hasn't, but it makes for a more dramatic intro) and work has fallen down the back of the grille, next to something called the backburner.

For once in this reviewer's life, he has found himself absorbed and interested in a new release. At long last a software house has released a title that feels like it has been built and designed solely for the CD32.

It's about time as well - so far all we've had to look at are a few port-overs from the A1200 and the odd souped-up back catalogue title. Admittedly, Diggers was worthy in showing the machine's capabilities off to some degree, but not since the launch have we seen anything capable of living up to any of the hype that has been syringed into the earlobe at regular intervals. That was of course until Captive 2 came long.

Interestingly enough, when the development started on Liberation it was a floppy project. When programmer Tony Lazzerini heard that Commodore were going to unleash (is this an opt description for Commodore's go-get' em marketing strategy?) the first 32-bit CD-based console on the world, he decided that the machine would he had the ideal tool for his latest project.

So, unlike the majority of CD32 software to date, which relies on jazzy intros and link animations to make up for spartan gameplay, Liberation can offer both stunning graphics and involving gameplay.

Usually at this point of a review, we say something about booting up, or inserting disks into drives. So, it's a very refreshing feeling to tell you about dropping nice, silvery, lightweight compact discs onto CD trays.

The introduction to Liberation is worth paying for alone. I hasten to add that it's not the full-motion video affair that the machine is capable of. But, it's about five minutes long, very neatly animated and leaves you really wanting to get into the play.

The story picks up from where Captive left off. Our hero Trill, having used his four droids to escape from the penal colony following his wrongful conviction, is adjusting to life in the 27th Century.

One day Trill is watching News at Ten, and happens to come across a particularly disturbing story. Being the enquiring type who obviously has scant regard for his own life and freedom, he decides to once more push his snout in where it could get stung.

The outcome of his snooping is that Trill-uncovers a major scandal involving thousands of other people who have been wrongfully arrested for murders they didn't commit. The true perpetrators of these crimes are advanced police droids which malfunction and become psychotic whenever the city is rocked by one of its frequent magnetic storms.

Being a man of conscience, Trill unlocks what looks like a wardrobe in his bedroom, and unleashes his four mechanoid buddies into the city. Your droids are a very versatile bunch. When you access their individual screen you'll find that you can doctor all their limbs, upgrade their equipment and even change the chipsets within their heads.

It's at this point that you, the good old punter come in. It's your task to guide the four androids around the city in a bid to uncover who's at the centre of the corruption and prove to the Emperor that his police force are guilty of terrible misdemeanors - sounds just like real life.

To make the world of the 27th Century a better place to live in, you must journey around the city interrogating the populace and gaining evidence to back up your case. Now, this sounds so far like many other RPG style titles, with your characters wandering around a massively dull environment where nothing ever changes.

Not so in Liberation. Here all of the characters you interact with have variable personalities. Which means you might happen upon them on one mission and they be a miserable blighter, and then the next time be extremely helpful (just like shopkeepers, huh folks?).

Also, throughout your travels random events will occur, so many in fact, that even the programmers don't know exactly what will happen next. Everyday life continues around you as you drop into the plot. Don't get too involved though, because normal life includes a city that's brimming with vehicles. All of which don't seem to pay much attention to pedestrians and take great delight in running you down.

So what you have to all intents and purposes is a fully functioning simualted city, where you can wander wherever you want to your heart's content - or until you've completed one of the 4,000 (yes, four with three zeros) missions.

Many of the ideas that make up this city and the play seem inspired by things like Neuromancer and Bladerunner. For example, for below the high-tech bustle of the cities upper levels lies a vast subterranean underworld packed full of some spuriously dodgy characters. Here, you'll be able to buy extra pieces of equipment and some of the 50 weapons that are featured in Liberation. Graphically, Liberation's got some of the best graphics yet seen in an adventure title.

All of the many locations are texture mapped and still scroll pretty smoothly. Once nice touch with the graphics is the way you can look up and down at objects, and this too scrolls fairly nicely. Much has been said about the control paddle of Commodore's console, most of which has been fairly derogatory. It has to be said that it takes some time to come to terms with the control in Liberation.

This isn't particularly to do with the much maligned paddle however, but has more to do with the fact that Captive 2 uses a fairly complicated control method because of the number of options available to you.

In the sound department, Liberation handles itself adequately. It features a very rousing tune throughout play, which is delivered to you in high quality stereo.
The game also features a fair amount of sampled speech, which due to CD is very concise and clear.

Overall, Liberation is probably one of the most interesting and engrossing titles I've seen for quite a while. Once you master the control system you'll be hooked and unable to put your paddle down. Its depth makes most other 3D adventures look like simple PD products. The main beauty of Liberation is that you can go anywhere and can complete the missions in a variety of ways.

Liberation is a breath of fresh air and will offer a much-needed lifeline to the CD32. It's high time something come along of Liberation's quality to show the CD32 off.

For those who don't yet own Commodore's console, this is the level of software which will persuade people that this is the machine for them. Nice one Mindscape.

Liberation CD32 logo CD32 Amiga Format Gold

An evil conspiracy of Corps is creating havoc on Earth, and evil droids are set on destruction. Only you can stop them and liberate the captives.

The 27th Century of Liberation is one of those bleakish futures that seems to have been washed with a warm ochre and pinkish hue. It is one of those futures in which Corps are taking over from the true and democratic power of the people. Well, not really, Bio-Corp and Securi-Corp are actually befuddling the dear old Emperor into spending more of his imperial time on the Wolf 359 System than he reasonably should. Despite this odd twist on the question of modern political power, there is still a cuddlesome fashionable 'eco' theme underpinning the rest of the plot.

The evil Corps are using up all of mother Earth's precious resources. What is worse, they are (ab)using them to build law enforcement droids, some of which are not as street-legal as programmes such as Crime Watch would see as a basic requirement. Frankly, they have gone bonkers and are doing things to people that even Kenneth Clarke might think a little over the top.

There is a conspiracy afoot. And it is one that has a lot of obviously 'futuresque' names in it. names with more consonants than vowels: Jadva. Names with tenuous historical connections like they used in Star Trek: John, Fredrick Sebastian (but not Bach). And names that are just silly: Hannibal Chew.

Your task, as John Sebastian, is to get to the bottom of the conspiracy, defeat the droids and make Earth a wholesome place to live, love and watch Crime Watch.

Out of control
Phew, what a plot. And anyone who has played Captive will recognise some of it, because this is indeed, Captive 2. And it is on CD32. Which leads to a lot of good things and one doozy of a bad one. If you want to retain your good temper then do not play this game with the CD32 controller. IT is complicated, inefficient, and irritating. Dig a mouse out from that old A600 box. Or buy one - try Golden Image's Powermouse (£15, call 0234 843388).

This game was designed to be played with a mouse, it has a lovely point and click to it as you guide your droids around the place in a manner akin to Eye of the Beholder. But the programmers were told to 'tweak this for that controller thingie on the CD wassname' and they got bored towards the end of the job.

Never mind, there is a great deal of fun to be had etched into the pits and lands of this CD. Take the opening sequence - very neat indeed. You can sit back for a few minutes and see the entire plot sweeping before your eyes. You can even hear the main characters chatting away in full stereo. It is grand and well animated. There is a lot to be said for CD when you can get this quality of work pumping out at you.

But what happens after you have watched the machine do the work? As you would expect from Captive 2, the control system is tidy and usable. You control four droids as they trek around the city in search of, well, things.

The city is not a small place, we are talking Glasgow here, and there are nine different areas to explore. And what you are looking for are the people who have been illegally imprisoned by one of the evil Corps. They are... captives. Your task is to free them. Essentially, this means that you should not shoot them.

Any one else seems to be fair game. But take another dose of heed here, try talking to some of the urbanites instead of blowing the hell out of them. You will find some useful information and will be able to carry on your merry way with a bit more of an idea about what is going on.

The conversation elements with an audioed CD32 are really amusing. Everyone in this new world seems to have developed a vocal abnormality, suffering from outlandish accents, distorted speech patterns and a tendency to repeat themselves. Maybe this is what the future will be like once all kids are forced to lean their language from television. The horror!

As CD-based games go, this one is steaming along... Liberation makes a fine Captive 2.

Looks good, feels good
Back to the game. The movement and control system are standard RPG fare. Guns, back-packs, walking, all that stuff. Where Liberation does look ahead (and even beats the wondersome Hired Guns on one level) is that you can look both up and down as well as left, right and forward.

The graphics are excellent side - the world you are in looks like William Gibson's notion of the inside of Wintermute. What it lacks in great detail it makes up for in the speed at which you are capable of moving around the terrain. It is all good stuff.

And so is the bit where you get to shoot someone. Hit the button and out come your robot hands a-blastin' and a-rainin' hot death on all who stand before you. Oh, I mean ALL who stand before you - so make sure you have got your droids in the right relationship to each other before you decide to play Rambo with the local civilians, otherwise you will have some seriously non-motivated metal men.

It is a pleasant duty for me to tell you that as CD-based games go, this one is steaming along at a more than acceptable rate of knots. There is a ton of depth to it, enough to justify the not outrageously OTT price-tag (well done Mindscape for not cashing in on the CD format). And aside from the niggles about the controller, it must be said that Liberation makes a fine Captive 2. Yup, it is a goody.

Liberation CD32 logo CD32

Kapelle, bitte einen Tusch, hier kommt das erste Rollenspiel exklusiv für das CD32! Genaugenommen ist die Premiere aber eine Fortsetzung - nämlich die des SF-Abenteuers "Captive" von anno 1990.

Wie der Vorgänger stammt auch dieses Mindscape-Programm aus der Feder des C64-Actionspezialisten Tony Crowther, und wie der Vorgänger wird es wohl den Sprung in die Rolli-Oberliga nicht ganz schaffen - dazu ist allein schon die Sache mit den Speicherständen viel zu unbefriedigend gelöst: Der batteriegespeiste Dauerspeicher bewahrt nämlich bloß eine File zur Zeit, will man ein anderes Game saven, so muß der Befreiungskrieg geopfert werden.

Warum also keine Paßcodes? Und warum funktioniert die Joypad-Steuerung so umständlich, daß man ohne Maus bald Knoten in den Fingern hat? Und wie zum Kuckuck konnte sich jemand ein derart abartig kompliziertes Inventory-Handling einfallen lassen?

Doch halt, ehe Ihr nun meint, das Spiel sei ein Totalreinfall, wollen wir flugs von den Schattenseiten zu den Lichtblicken kommen. So mag die kunterbunte Farbgebung der 3D-Umgebung ja Geschmackssache sein, aber die originell und abwechslungsreich gestalteten Dungeon-Gewände verdienen allemal ein dickes Lob.

Ebenso wie die Möglichkeit, nach oben bzw. unten zu schauen, der pompöse Intro-Film oder das fein animierte und texturierte Polygon-Inventar: Autos, Roboter und Menschen. Viele schicke Soundtracks werden von netten FX und toller englischer Sprachausgabe unterstützt - und vermutlich entfleucht Euch gleich eine grimmige deutsche Sprachausgabe, wenn Ihr nicht bald erfahrt, worum es hier eigentlich geht...

Die Handlung schließt an "Captive" an, wo mit Hilfe von vier ferngesteuerten Droiden die Selbstbefreiung des Spielers aus der Tiefkühlhaft angesagt war. Nunmehr rehabilitiert, stolpert der Held postwendend in den nächsten Schlamassel, denn die Polizei-Robbis von Mutter Erde drehen durch.

Der Herstellerkonzern macht sich an eine riesige Vertuschungsacktion, in deren Verlauf gleich noch ein paar unliebsame Mitbürger einkassiert werden, und unser Ex-Knacki darf wieder seiner Lieblingsbeschäftigung nachgehen- der Fernsteuerung von Kampf-Cyborgs. Straßenlabyrinthe diverser Städte sind ebenso zu durchmessen wie Gebäude-Verliese; Robot-Polizisten wären per Echtzeit-Ballerei zu bekämpfen, alle unschuldig Gefangenen müssen befreit und sämtliche Beweise für die finstere Verschwörung gesammelt werden.

Es gibt also viel zu tun, und die vier Blechkameraden tun es, indem sie mit passenden Keycards verschlossene Türen öffnen, Geräte, Ergänzungs-Chips und nicht zuletzt Wummen samt Munition einsacken (bzw. Kaufen) oder aus Passanten und Hydranten, äh, in der Landschaft herumstehenden Compi-Terminals weiterführende Informationen kitzeln.

Tja, unbeschadet der genannten tiefschwarzen Flecken hat das englisch angeleitete Liberation also alles in allem doch wenigstens eine hellgraue Weste an - und ist für CD-Fans somit zweifellos eine nähere Bekanntschaft wert! (jn)

Liberation CD32 logo CD32

In the late 20th century finally cam a game that pushed the CD32 to its limits.

There are big games. There are bigger games. And then there is Liberation. The development team have, apparently, struggled long and hard to keep the size down so that it fits on one CD, a mere 660 Mb worth! Liberation has over 50 Mb of graphics, six hours of digitised speech, 30 minutes of full orchestral music, animated characters with individual personalities, and over 4000 levels.

It is, Mindscape say, unfinishable because it would take more than a lifetime to play it. Liberation is a first-person-perspective, real-time 3D adventure set in the 29th Century. In the 29th Century everything has been privatised, even the police force (a stunningly original concept) and all is corruption and violence.

You play the part of Trill. Trill is not budgie seed, as you might imagine, but a freedom fighter and all round hero. Information falls into your hands that androids used by the police mega-corporation Securi-Co for interrogating suspects are malfunctioning during freak electro magnetic storms and killing the suspects they are interrogating.

In true mega-corporation style Securi-Co decide to cover up these malfunctions by framing innocent people. It is up to you and your trusty band of droids to liberate the wrongly accused and present evidence of Securi-Co's misdemeanours to the Emperor himself.

All is corruption and violence

The playfield of the game is a massive city on three levels. You control four heavily armoured and well equipped 'droids who you move around the city by means of an ultra hi-tec remote automation device otherwise known as your CD32 joypad. In familiar adventure style, you see through the droids' eyes as they meet the huge variety of characters who inhabit the city and explore the hundreds of buildings.

When you first play the game you are staggered by the size, it is literally mind boggling. You spend the first few minutes wandering around the city in a kind of daze, trying to make sense of the mass of information that is being presented to you. The graphics appear initially disappointing, there is a kind of freakish 60s, psychedelic look to the game, but as you become more involved you begin to appreciate that the graphics do the job well enough and, indeed, add an oppressive atmosphere to the game.

In your task to liberate the wrongly accused prisoner you must interrogate many characters you meet, from the kind lady in the City Records Office to the lowlife pimps and muggers who inhabit the lowest level of the city.

All of the characters will speak to you and you choose from a multiple choice of questions. Their anwers depend on their character and modd, so that you may ask somebody a question on different occasions and get different answers. The characters in the game will also remember your previous behavious so you must be sure not to accidentally shoot at any of your prime witnesses (it can happen!) and also be careful to be polite and say goodbye, just like your mother taught you.

Obviously, all of these subversive activities will alert the forces of law, order and profit to your activities and they will start to close a net around you. Individual encounters with policement in the street can usually be settled by bribery but occasionally gun battles will break out (shame, eh?). The police are pretty tough and resourceful and outnumber you heavily, and they also have helicopters that patrol the city and are likely to open up on you indiscriminately.

There are repair shops to be visited and badly damaged droids can be disassembled and carried around in their friend's backpacks but the shoot-em-up element of the game is very dangerous. It is often necessary to use a gun and it tends to bring a backlash when you do.

You will be staggered by the size, it is mind boggling

After you have played the game for a while, you start to notice the depth of options. You never seem to run out of new things to do and new things to try. You can configure the screen to almost any combination of control windows. You can configure your 'droids down to the level of swapping around the transistors in their limbs, changing their skill and power levels.

You have tiny little cameras called bugs that you can attach to any object in the game and, having done so, then view the city from that perspective, so police helicopters can be carrying your cameras and giving you an overhead view of the action.

The graphics are not quite up to scratch

You pick up scraps of paper that are adverts for cabs, you can find the cabs and direct them to take you to any address you know in the city.

And so on and so on... This game is massive, and more to the point does not make you feel like you are being inevitably forced down a one way street to the solution. So what are the bad points? Well the graphics are not quite up to scratch, the range of colours used in particular being awful. But what really lets Liberation down is the awful control system. Not Liberation's you understand, but the CD32's. The joypad is just not designed for this kind of game.

Fortunately, Liberation can be played with a mouse, you just plug it into the spare socket on the side of your CD32 and away you go. It makes your life so much easier, in fact I would say it was essential for full enjoyment of this quite staggering and original game.

Liberation CD32 logo CD32 CU Amiga Screen Star

In the 28th Century freedom is a precious thing. Jon Sloan leaps forward to create a little liberation.

So far, we've only seen one game that truly uses the capability of the CD32. However, the game in question, Microcosm, may be a fun game and use loads of texture-mapped gobsmacking graphics but, at heart, it is nothing more than a simple shoot 'em up. Liberation on the other hand, may not be able to boast the same depth of graphics quality that Psygnosis' game has, but it is light years ahead when it comes to gameplay.

To my mind the CD32 was designed for adventures: no more disk swopping, stunning graphics, CD sound, digitised speech - it has the potential to contain all these and more. And Liberation very nearly has the lot. 'But enough high-praising waffle; what is it all about?' I hear you cry (bet you did not know my hearing was so good, did you?).

Life in the future must be very bleak. At least that is what virtually every sci-fi writer has told us since the genre came into fashion. And in that respect, Liberation is no different. There is a police state oppressive dictatorial Empire and a worldwide conspiracy where innocent men are being framed for murders they did not commit. As Trill, the hero from the first Captive game (and the man with the world's worst haircut - after our cranially challenged Editor that is), you decide to uncover this plot and set the convicts free.

To complete the game you need to free the convict designated for that particular scenario. That may sound easy but, with over 4,000 possible variations, you will soon realise that Liberation is going to keep you going well into the new year.

Trill is a smart man. I mean, apart from discovering a global conspiracy he is intelligent enough not to get involved personally in any of the dirty work. Instead, he has disappeared into the mountains outside the city and has sent a team of four droids in to sort it out. Controlling them from his laptop computer, Trill (i.e. you) has a first-person perspective on the action.

These head-mounted video cameras allow you to view the light-sourced texture-mapped polygon-filled city in great detail. It is obvious that a lot of thought has gone into the graphic design and, although it is not that particularly lifelike, this stylised view of the world is impressive and, above all, workable.

The downside of all this texture mapping is your robot buddies do amble rather ponderously along and the animation frames are few and far between. Tony Crowther, the coder, has borne this in mind and, if you plug a chip into a droid's head, you can alter the game parameters to your choosing.

This customisation is carried through into all major aspects of the game. You can alter the screen layout, the fonts and colours used, the make-up of your droids - in fact, virtually everything that a reasonably experienced adventurer would want to do.

Being droids, your team members have perfect memories and, boy, do they need them. The gameplay involves you tracking down the location of the prisoner by talking to, bribing, shooting and making contacts with people across a huge city that's set out on three levels. So, every conversation you have, every clue you uncover and every address you find is stored in the droids' huge memory chips and you can review it at any time.

Better still, one of your team has a city mapper, which can be programmed with addresses so there is no need for yards of graph paper here. Besides, trying to manually map a city as big as this would take you forever and you'd still not get it right - imagine trying to do an A-Z of London, from scratch! To make things simpler the city is divided into zones and levels. The graphic sets for each are subtly different so it should not take too long to find your way around.

The drawback about having a realistic city is that people move around freely and do normal, everyday random things. This makes your job doubly difficult: not only do you have to track down the captive's location but you've also got to find the people who are going to give you the clues to do so.

But hey, that is where the fun is. Besides, the game constantly monitors your progress and, if it sees you floundering for too long in one place and not making any headway, it will pop in a useful note or tip to guide you to your destination. The game isn't the only thing that is monitoring you, though.

Your activities have been noted by the corporations which control the city and the police force, so you are being hunted by cop droids who should have been told to take you in dead or alive; unfortunately someone left out the 'alive' bit. Hang around at one location for too long, tap into the wrong police computer or discharge your weapons in the wrong place and you will soon find yourself surrounded by heavily-armed robots out to tap your oil, the hard way.

You are not without defenses, though. You start the game with a pre-set selection of reasonably powerful weapons; if you find an armourer you can buy new cartridges for them, substantially adding to your firepower. If you have got the cash, you can obtain completely new weapons with enough explosive charges to level a small city block. There are even certain weapons that are undetectable by the scanners located in the more important buildings, but they cost a packet.

Try and get hold of them 'cos, believe me, you will need them. To balance for this, the bigger the gun the larger the charge it takes off your robot's battery every time it is fired. Fortunately, there are sockets hidden in specific dwellings which will recharge the batteries.

By now, you ought to have realised that Liberation is a complex game and it will take a good couple of weeks to make any decent progress in it. That is how RPGs should be! This game has a depth to it that I cannot remember having ever seen on an Amiga RPG. It is the first one of its kind to truly challenge the masterpieces you can get on a PC. I took it home with me one weekend and ended up losing two days.

Like a lover I ate dinner with it, went to bed with it and woke to find it beside me the next morning. Unlike a human version though there was none of that bad breath, smudged make-up and 'Oh my God. Why did I do that?' feeling you usually get. I have not got around to proposing marriage just yet but I am almost there.

Virtually every aspect of its construction deserves praise. The graphics, though not as realistic as I would have like, convey the proper atmosphere nonetheless. For instance, the shady characters on the lower levels are shrouded in long cape things so that only their beady eyes show.

The soundtrack, too, is dreamy and changes tempo according to the situation you are in: walk around to a slow-paced mellow tune and fight to an up beat dramatic track - brilliant. Best of all there is a digitised speech that, despite at times being repetitive, makes you feel you are really holding a conversation with the characters.

The storyline will keep you hooked even when you feel you are stuck for what to do next. Even then you won't be stuck for too long - something will turn up, if not a clue then a hulking great cop droid intent on spilling your coolant.

Liberation is a game and a half. It is long, deep and satisfying - a bit like a good cigar (what else did you think I meant?). In fact, the only question left on my mind is 'Will you marry me?'.


Controlling Liberation with the joypad is not a good idea. In fact, it is a bugger to do. To really obtain maximum functionality from the team you need a mouse. Left and right clicks over the appropriate icon are all that is required. It is a good thing too since the control system is not the most user-friendly one to grace an RPG. It will take you a little while to get used to where everything is and even then manipulating two or three buttons on the joypad on the same time is only achievable by the most dexterous players.