You know what I think of people who live in the Gamma system? I'll tell you. They're a bunch of ungrateful camel spankers. Every last of them. Thankless lizard baiters. Lowdown cheating giraffe wobblers, whatever one of those is.
And do you know why? Because after saving the entire system from oblivion in Mercenary II, they awarded our helpless merc by bunging him in a timewarp prison. Makes your blood boil, doesn't it? Scumbags.
So, when they finally let you out again, guess what they ask you to do? Help them out, that's what. The nerve of it all. It seems that a sinister Mr P.C. Bill has risen to power and is on the verge of being elected. Supreme Big Cheese of the entire cosmiverse (and Denmark). If this happens he'll use his new found political muscle to get away with all sorts of underhand shenanigans. So, fellow mercenarers, all you have to do is to scupper his plans one way or another.
There are several ways to throw a spanner in the works, as there always are in these vast exploring-type games. The game rather handily comes with a hint pack that contains much advice on the ways to win. The most obvious solution is to become a presidential candidate yourself and get elected instead of Bill. This involves signing on as a candidate, organizing your campaign and then waiting for the people to choose. However, life in the public eye means that you must keep your nose clean and follow the election rules or you'll be disqualified.
It's a pity that Bill doesn't have the same sense of fair play, really. He'll constantly try to tempt you into a life of rock and roll gambling on his casino planet, Bacchus. The fiend.
This is the easiest route to success, and others involve much more subtle planning and strategy. How about sabotaging his mining operations, bankrupting his casino, locking him in a specially-built prison or taking on his fleet of combat craft and shooting your way to victory?
There's also a secret solution that only the cleverest players will discover, and it's this one that will shower you with the fruitiest dividends. And I've no idea what it is.
As in Damocles (Mercenary II, fact fans), you have complete freedom around the gamma system and all its planets, moons and outside to choose lavvies. The big switcharoo here is that while you were twiddling your thumbs in the clink, they installed a mighty handy public transport system on most of the planets.
These incorporate taxis, hire cars, buses, InterCity shuttle flights and planet-to-planet space cruises. Oh, and as in Damocles, there's a transporter system that zaps you from one planet to the next in the blink of an eye. All you have to do is find it...
All of this means that finding key locations is a lot easier, as the public transport doesn't bother stopping at useless empty buildings. Well, most of the time anyway. It also means that going from one planet or island to the next is a doddle, whereas in Damocles it was an absolute bugger. So straight from the word go, it's easy to pick up the clues and get on with the task at hand.
And there's another advantage to this new twist. It means that there are other characters to meet. Taxi drivers, pilots, receptionists and, er, taxmen. Unfortunately you can't talk to them, only listen to their words of wisdom. Obviously, some of these characters will unwittingly impart vital info, so keep your ears open and don't go and make a cuppa during a taxi ride. You might miss that all-important hint. If you're an independent sort, you can splash out the cash for your own vehicle (or nick one) and explore the world beyond the transport route.
Indeed, this is the only way to progress at some stages so don't rely on public transport all the time, because just like our beloved BR, it will usually zoom straight past the place you wanted to go.
And so, with a whole galaxy to explore but a few vague ideas of what to do, you must once again battle to save the people of Gamma from their undying indifference. Talk about being taken for granted...
The presentation of Mercenary 3 really makes the most of the ST. Despite the almost infinite number of viewpoints and locations, the whole thing scrolls smoother than a greased-up armadillo. Admittedly, things sometimes look a little empty, but most of the time you'll be marveling at the way the buildings tower above you and the various vehicles zip along the roads going about their own business. The atmosphere generated by these new features really makes all the difference.
The number of locations has gone up as well, as the bus and shuttle timetable demonstrate. There's even a strange building called Europress Publications in there somewhere! A lot of thought has gone into creating a convincing and interesting world for you to nose around in. Inevitably , there are plenty of giant building with nothing in them, but if you're on the right track you shouldn't come across too many.
As usual, the sound is fairly basic, but fret not, for the Amiga version also sports average sonics. It's probably something to do with the sheer size of it all. You get the hum of the engines as the vehicles hover up and down, some hissing doors, and a loud thunk when you walk into things, but that's yer lot I'm afraid. It does its job, and Id rather have a brilliant game with a crap sound than the other way round. I'm sure you'll agree.
As far as gameplay goes though, it's a winner - perhaps a bit too slow moving for hard-bitten arcade fans, but for those who like to ponder over problems rather than leaping in feet first all guns blazing, it's the closest you're going to get to virtual reality on your ST. And it's a damn sight more interesting as well. A large, overflowing bathtub of wonderfulness.