Simulated excitement

Simulcra logo

SIMULCRA is one of those games who's plote reads like a drunken gamesters hallucinations. You see, up there in the future, if there is one,w ars are no longer fought out on the battlefield, with people getting dirty, cold, and then blown into fleshy components.
Instead the interested parties boot up their copies of Populous X and wage war via computer. Well, not quite. They do wage war, but using simulated forces. Simulcraft, as they are known, are the basic instrument of destruction.

So what's all this got to do with me I can hear you asking (I have very large ears). Well, who would believe it but the computer running these war games has decided to get in on the act for real, by sending out simulcraft into the real world. It can do this because of the enormous energies contained within the system.
Er, yes. Alright, so it's a load of tosh. Don't blame me. I don't write these scenarios you know.

Anyway, what you have to do is this: Guide your very own simulcraft around the 30 odd levels of simulator land, destroying energy generators. These generators produce forcefields within the levels that prevent you from going any further.

If you destroy all the generators everywhere then the computer packs up shop and turns into a vegetable rack. It does beg the question: Why doesn't the computer just create some more generators then, since it created the ones you are bent on destroying in the first place? I've no idea so you'll have to ask MicroProse for the answer to that one.

Once you actually get going the first thing you notice are the 3-D, /Virus/Interphase like graphics, and the second is that the screen rotates around your simulcraft, rather like US Gold's Rotox. Except that was in 2-D of course, which makes this all the more impressive.

Most of the time you are trucking along narrow, winding pathways, with a sharp drop into Nowhereville beckoning. Thankfully you can't fall off the edge. You just rebound from it. If you could fall off the game would be a nightmare.
It isn't though, and you can race along a tremendous speed blasting away at everything that flashes by. Of course you may end up at a section where there is no land area. At which point you leap into the nearest simulkiosk and whip out your wings.

If you also have jet propellant then you can take off and fly over to the next platform, or you can just zip around, strafing all the enemy positions up and down the matrix. What you must watch out for are the red energy barriers. Even while flying you can't get past them, and at flying speed your front shield will suffer a large fright if you run into one.

The other airborne hazard to beware of are the computers own simulcraft and planes which circle around like vultures waiting for an opening. Blast one as soon as it appears or it'll be perpetually sniping at you from above. Extra weapons and equipment to combat the simulforces appear phoenix like from the ashes of defeated installations.

There's ECM, homing missiles, energy boosts, shield replacements, radar and other stuff besides. In fact there really isn't any shortage of power ups as long as you keep on blasting everything.

On the earlug front Simulcra doesn't offend, but never rises very far above average. All the expected bangs and rattles accompany the action, and the obligatory tune does its thing to reasonable effect.

Although Simulcra isn't as puzzle orientated as Rotox, it is considerably faster, has impressive rotating 3-D graphics, is easy to play, and yet offers a 30 level challenge that will take some beating.
So I like it (which is surprising considering how notoriously tardy I am) and if you shell out the necessary dosh I believe you will too.

Simulcra logo

MICROSTYLE £24.99 * Joystick or Keyboard

You want action? You want high-speed 3D blasting? You want huge mazes filled to busting with tanks, aircraft and gun towers? You want Simulcra!

You drive a half-plane half-tank around a battle matrix enclosed with a force shield. You can't cross the barriers until you've destroyed the generators that control it. Then the force wall collapses and you can get to the next section.

At any time you can switch between plane and tank, just unfurl the wings and you can fly above the battle zone reaching the unreachable power-up pods that result from the aliens' deaths. The floor hangs in space, with small platforms floating in nothingness all about the game area. You race around the current area looking for generators and collecting extra firepower.

The joy of Simulcra is the speed and confusion. Using the tank as centre point for the 3D landscape, the whole game's exceptionally quick. So fast that seconds after starting at the map you'll be totally lost again on the giant grid, where you win with trigger speed, deft movement and firepower.

Load up those fire and forgets, boys, lock on that HUD it's time to access the battle matrix.

Simulcra logo

Wer Ballerspiele mit 3D-Vektorgrafik mag, kennt (und liebt!) mit Sicherheit auch die "Starglider"-Games. Und wem diese Klassiker trotz des moderaten Schwierigkeitsgrads noch zu stressig waren, für den haben wir gute Nachrichten...

Mit Simulcra kann sich nämlich auch der unerfahrenste Baller-Novize an herrlichen Duellen in "Starglider"-Manier erfreuen, ohne dabei einen Nervenzusammenbruch zu riskieren! Und weil's so schön ist, sparen wir uns auch die Hintergrundstory und schauen gleich nach, was Sache ist: Gegner gibt es hier natürlich tonnenweise, angefangen von allen möglichen Landfahrzeugen über Geschütztürme und sonstige Verteidigungsanlagen bis hin zu netten kleinen Fliegern. Die muÜ man allesamt mit seinem SVR Spezialfighter erledigen, der fahren, hüpfen und auch fliegen kann.

Das gute Stück hat selbstverständlich eine Bordkanone, dazu kommen diverse Extras wie Raketen, Radar, Schutzschilde, ECM und Speed Ups. Geschossen und geflogen wird in einer sogenannten Battle Matrix - von diesen digitalen Schlachtfeldern gibt es stolze 30 Stück (= Level).

Die (ausgefüllte) Vektorgrafik ist traumhaft schnell, man kriegt den reinsten Geschwindigkeitsrausch. Der Sound besteht aus einer belanglosen Titelmusik und sie wurde nahezu optimal gelöst: gekonnter läÜ t sich ein Joystick eigentlich nicht mehr belegen! Es ist direkt Schade, daÜ man Simulcra doch in ein paar Sitzungen durchspielen kann (obwohl die Kampf-Arenen sehr komplex sind), denn diese wundervollen Fights könnten ruhig ewig dauern... (mm)

Simulcra logo CU Screenstar

Cyberspace rears its electronic head again in the latest game from Graftgold. Set in the far future the game envisages a time when wars will be fought inside computer simulations, digitally generated battle matrices where doom and destruction are just tricks of the light.

Rather than utilising present day warfare involving thousands of soldiers and many thousands of casualties, battles are settle within the computer by using one or two skilled pilots, each trained and psyched to the peak of their ability. You are one such pilot. Can you save your nation and win the war?

There are thirty combat zones to blast through, the objective being to destroy power generators dotted around the playing area on each level. Each zone is made up of a maze of tiles, forming platforms and walkways, complete with a smattering of enemy forces, ranging from bog standard mouse-like craft that fire randomly to huge tanks fully armed with homing missiles.

Stationary enemies such as gun turrets harass you constantly, and the aggro is only heightened by the airborne attacks from planes and helicopters.

Luckily, you control the latest in fighting machines. The Surface Reconnaissance Vehicle (SRV) - the ultimate expandable metamorphic attack craft. Swing wings allow you to change between a tank and an aircraft, and easily fitted modules add extra features such as Fire and Forget missiles, a Target and Display system, a series of speed ups increase your engine power and an ECM device lets you jam enemy homing missiles.

The game is viewed from behind and slightly above your craft, with the bottom third of the screen taken up with a status panel, showing which weapons and defence systems you currently have, how many generators remain, a radar and a four way shield display.

The playing area is made up of some of the fastest and smoothest filled polygon graphics yet seen in a game. Thanks to clever programming techniques, the graphic generator can run up to 252 objects at once, with impressive effects such as fast, solid filled objects with shadows and light intensity shaded surfaces. Explosion effects are created by a particle controller that can generate and move 100 individual particles.

What you end up with is a stunningly realistic game with a greater sensation of movement than most flight simulators. The sound is a little weak in places. But there's always a fair bit going on, so things get very noisy at times. A lot of the explosion effects are tinny, which takes some of the satisfaction out of killing things, but that's well compensated by the amazing graphics.

Simulcra is a simple game to understand, but bloody hard to play. In a simulated universe where everything is against you, you have to keep your guard up at all times, and it tends to make you a little jumpy when you travel along a long empty walkway and you haven't been attacked for a few seconds.

Simulcra is one of those many games that aims to become a classic - and it looks like it just might manage that status. The sheer size of the game means you'll be at it for quite a while. An impressive product, and one that I can heartily recommend. Good, clean violent fun.

Simulcra logo

Microstyle/£24.99/Out now

Amiga reviewDavid: Latest from the Microprose stable, and hot on the heels of last month's ST version, is Simulcra. Imaine you've got a lovely little house (on the prairie) and your house is bordered on three sides by lovely pleasant landscapes. Then imagine some geeser comes out and puts a huge fence all the way around your property. You'd be a mite miffed, wouldn't you? (actually it isn't but it's a reasonably analogy).

Your space platform is surrounded by an enemy forcefield and you've decided to shut it down. You do this by shooting out generators, but of course it's not that simple as the platform is populated with hordes of land based and flying aliens, inaccessible bits and static gun turrets. Shooting aliens and the occasional barn(?) produces bonus we3apons, fuel, or lives and you'll have to strategically decide the best way to fly et cetera.

Programmed by Graftgold, the guys who brought you Rainbow Islands and Iron Man Off Road Racer, Simulcra is a challenging shoot 'em up with Rotox-y puzzle bits. Rendered in colourful vectors with different weapons and travel methods, Amiga Simulcra plays rather similarly to its ST counterpart.

Simulcra logo

Microstyle, Amiga £24.99

An unspecified time into the future. Man has curbed his bloodthirsty instincts and scrapped all weapons. However, international disagreements still occur so to minimise death and destruction, conflicts are decided with huge simulators. Highly skilled pilots fight it out over computer-generated battlescapes.

But something's gone wrong. A virus has infected Simulcra, the battlescape supercomputer, and given it a power-hungry mind of its own. It is tapping into its rich power reserves and projected some of its battle vehicles - Simulcraft - into the real world. With no weapons to defend themselves against the craft, the humans are helpless and can only run for cover.

You are at the control of an SRV (Surface Reconnaissance Vehicle), a sleek tank-like craft with extendable wings to enable limited flight. The SRV is the main hope for civilisation: you must attempt to cut off all power lines to Simulcra by destroying its energy projectors.

The rotating projectors are spread throughout the 30 battle matrices, defended by various types of gun emplacements, robots, tanks and jets. The SRV itself is shown from behind and slightly above, the platforms which form the pathways of the current battle matrix stretching panoramically ahead of it.

You can drive the SRV as speedily backwards as forwards, the platforms rotating around the vehicle, Rotox-style. The same is true when you switch to flight mode, although the SRV moves faster and isn't restricted to the platforms. Your exact position in the matrix and the direction you're facing can be checked by calling up a map. Red platforms form impassable energy barriers deactivated by destroying the energy projector that powers it - when all have been destroyed, the matrix is disabled.

The standard SRV is armed with cannons, which mean projectors and most vehicles, require a number of hits, but they leave behind pods when destroyed. Some pods give points but others provide extras including radar, missiles, a missile targeting system, and extra energy.

Stuart Wynne Simulcra has apparently been in development since before Zarch (Original Atari ST version of Virus), although the game itself is not really that complex. It's a fun shoot-'em-up, lifted above average by attention to detail in both gameplay and graphics. The wide variety of weapons, the different attack patterns of the aircraft, gun turrets and ground vehicles mean there is never time to pause. The graphics are beautifully detailed, with a real Tron feel - especially in the 'n'-shaped Recognizers, Solar Sail and MCP-like generators. There is plenty of original stuff too, such as various superb aircraft (including helicopters) which make diving attack runs. It is all very fast, something you appreciate when you have take off and are zooming over the attractive landscape. Heartily recommended for blast-'em-up fans.
Warren Lapworth With such a derivative plot and apparently tired game design, I was not looking forward to Simulcra. But slap my wrists and eat my words, Graftgold's latest 16-bit creation is one of the most immediately playable future combat games ever. The SRV is a speedy and highly manoeuvrable craft, its reverse gear (as fast as forwards) great for getting out of dead ends or dangerous situations. In flight, there is a sense of organised chaos in steering, a bit worrying but all part of the fun of the craft. It moves in smooth, fast 3-D, the matrices spinning about you, platforms coming into view and various adversaries moving on or flying above them. Although some of these opponents are derivative of Tron designs, they integrate well with the game to produce a believable computer simulation of a combat zone.
Although gameplay is basically shoot- 'em-up, there is plenty of exploration involved (frequent references to the map are almost essential), and the search for those elusive projectors and the best places to go for a quick flight mean brain power is needed too.