S.D.I. (Cinemaware) logo

Price: £39.95/disk

The year is 2017, the Americans and the Russians have almost become good friends and they are about to rid the world of nuclear weapons. What future is there for computer combat games?

Fortunately, the scenario in S.D.I., the latest release from Master Designer Software is not so bleakly optimistic as this. As any decent, law-abiding American can tell you, the Commies are not to be trusted. A gang of "ruthless KGB fanatics" stage a coup d'etat in the Soviet Union and in their crazed, bloodthirsty minds lies just one ambition: nuke America!

Some of us may applaud this noble undertaking and would find it most rewarding to engage in a computerised destruction of the US of A.

Not this time, however. This is an American game, after all. Instead, the lucky player finds that he is one Sloan McCormick, Captain of the US Orbital Marines whose duty it is to blast the KGB rocket fighters out of the skies with his advanced particle beam weapon (his what?).

Having accomplished this small task, the versatile McCormick must then repair the American Strategic Defence Initiative satellites, dock with friendly US and Soviet space stations and, because he's that kind of a guy, rescue the Russian Lover, the beautiful Natalya Kazarian, from a "barbaric KGB torture squad". What a guy!

Putting aside, if one can, the grubby little plot to this game, it must be said that S.D.I. Plays very well indeed. The graphics are stunning - at least as good as previous Cinemaware releases - with some of the best animation sequences I have seen on the Amiga. The sound is no less excellent. As well as the standard theme tune, game has a sampled stereo simulation of a space-craft passing from one side of the screen to the other.

Control is administered by joystick and mouse and it handles well. The sense of moving through space is quite convincing, while a challenging degree of dexterity is required to destroy the KGB fighters. I did feel that the joystick was inadequate in the docking sequences however. Here the mouse would give greater manoeuvrability and more of a sense of the difficulties such as an action requires.

The final sequence, a shoot-out with more Russians than there were on the set of "War and Peace", should satisfy the bloodlust of even the most Ramboish players. S.D.I. Is a likeable game in that it is varied and challenging.

Better still, it looks and sounds great (I particularly like the scenic graphics of Moscow and the Kremlin). On the negative side, the politics behind it stink. With Messrs. Gorbachev and Reagan attempting to come to some sort of agreement on limiting nuclear weapons, we hardly need gung-ho nonsense like this.

S.D.I. Is a bit like the film Top Gun: it's a treat to look at, but ideologically it's phenomenally unsound. And the price its economics are pretty dodgy too.