Crusading in, err space, you've guessed it, here's...

Space Crusade logo Gamer Gold

GREMLIN * £25.99 * 1/2 meg * Joystick/mouse * Out now

If you're not familiar with names like Orks, Gretchins, Dreadnoughts, Blips and Genestealers, then chances are you haven't been living for the past few years.
As any decent role-laying games fan will know, these names are all to do with Games Workshop Ltd. Now if you cast your minds back a year or so ago, you will remember that Gremlin converted Heroquest - The Board Game into Heroquest - The Computer Game (fanfare please).
This obviously delighted thousands of RPG fans who owned Amigas. Now they've converted Space Crusade - a much loved RPG - to our computer screens too (hurrah!)

Anyone who's not a fan of RPGs will probably think that they're a little boring and involve lots of old, hairy heavy metal fans who move painted metal figures all around a board while throwing a 75-sided dice.
Well you're wrong! I've played a few RPGs in my time, I can tell you, and they are actually quite fun. The only thing tha bothered me were the hundreds and hundreds of rules that came with the game as standard.
You know the sort: "You can only kill an Ork if its kill points are below seven and its defence factor is above two, but if you own a Heavy Bolter you must throw three times to see if any shrimps have eaten your fridge".
Well it's sort of like that. Whatever it was, it was very confusing. So if you didn't know all the rules you consequently got beaten to a pulp by all your chums.

Well, now Space Crusade is on your home computer and things are a little easier. I'll tell you why shortly - first it's time for a bit of a story.
More than 25 milennia ago, mankind took his first tentative steps to the stars. The discovery of the warp drive was a major advancement for space travel. What was once a journey of several centuries became a journey of several days.
Warp space is the parallel universe through which starships may jump, but unfortunately it's also the domain of Chaos. In warp space nothing may be taken for granted. It is a universe with all manner of evil powers.

Ships have disappeared without reason and emerged from the warp centuries after they entered it, millions of light years from their destinations. These derelict starships, distorted beyond all recognition are known as space hulks.

By entering warp space, man had awoken an ancient evil - the minions of Chaos had escaped from warp. The first great war, known as the Age of Strife, had begun.
For over five thousand years, warfare wrecked mankind - nation battle nation, planet battle planet, race destroyed race. Colonies died out, while aliens plundered and few fat on the wreck of humanity.

Then came a saviour, the man who would be known as the Emperor of Human Space. A shrewd diplomat, he gathered what was left of human society and formed it into the Empire.

A brilliant soldier, he conquered and reclaimed the planets lost to Chaos. For this task he crested the Space Marines, the greatest warriors of all.

Its members are acknowledged as the most powerful and feared fighting men in the Imperium. Space Marines are organised into chapters, each with its own fleet. The fleets roam through the galaxy in pursuit of Chaos. End of story.
Now this is where you come in. You get to control a squad of space marines - one commander and four marines - and you have to rid the space hulks of Chaos. The computer version allows for three players, each commanding one marine chapter - either the Blood Angels, the Imperial Fists or the Ultramarines. Chaos is played by the computer.

At the start of a game, the marine players choose the marine chapter they wish to represent. They then choose weapons for their marine teams. There are plenty to choose from - assault cannons, missile launchers, plasma guns and heavy bolters are just some of those available.

The marines must then choose which missions they wish to undertake. This can range from blowing a hole in the side of a space hulk to taking on one of the deadly dreadnoughts. There are 12 missions to choose from, so it'll keep you busy for a while, plus there will be mission disks on the way soon. Once you've done all this, it's time to start the game. The marine players take their turn first. After the marine team(s) have had their turns), it's time for the computer to strike back.

The marine players must attempt to accomplish the mission they have selected from the mission list. During their turn the marines may move, fire or fight using hand-to-hand combat.

As the marines explore the game map they will encounter loads of the deadly members of Chaos. Marine players score points for eliminating their opponents and the player who scores the most points wins the game.
That's basically how you play Space Crusade - move in, kill the aliens, achieve mission objectives, move out and be home in time for tea.

Space Crusade is one of those games where the reviewer tells you to buy the game and read the manual because there are so many little things to talk about that he/she hasn't got enough space to write them all down.
Guess what? "What?" I hear you all cry. "Go and buy the game and read the manual because there isn't enough space to explain all the twiddly bits."

There you have it. I've hardly space to tell you about the fantastic graphics and how you can switch views from 2D to 3D, or about the fab sound FX and how, errr, fab it sounds.
See, there just isn't enough space to tell you about the playability and how it's easy to play because it uses a really good icon system and there are no hard rules to learn.

I can't believe I won't be able to tell you about how you'll be addicted to it for months and months on end. I don't know, computer game mags these days. Tut tut.
Space Crusade is one hell of a game. RPG fan or not, you'll love it to bits. Go out and buy it today. You will not regret it, I promise.

Space Crusade logo

Space eh? Dontcha love it? There's the space time curve to play with, strange new worlds to visit and weird phenomena to investigate. Most of all there are aliens oozing from the chaos zone for you to splatter. Cue the space marines, the meanest and moodiest bunch ever to don armour and pose in front of the mirror with their weapons.

Space Crusade is based on the board-game of the same name. It's a war-game based on bug-eyed monster bashing and male bonding. Up to three players control small bands of marines as they clump around spaceships trying not to get too killed as they follow mission orders.

Mission highly unlikely
Your first step is to choose one of three marine chapters and assign weapons. The most important bloke is your commander, who is so tough he leaves his helmet at home. He gets the praise and career progression at the end of it all, so look after him. Luckily he's got more life points than anyone else. Along with him you get five grunts

After picking up your shooters and extra's it's time for the main event. There are over 20 missions, each has a main objective, some object to recover or an extra big alien to deal with. There's one thing they do all have in common though - lots of shooting. In the first few games you're likely to get embarrassingly massacred; you'll find even the easiest mission is no push-over.

Taking turns
The main screen is an overhead view of the playing area divided into squares and everything is mouse and icon controlled. The game is split into turns. You can move and fire the marines under your control in any order you like, until they've all had a bash. Then click on the next player icon and control switches to the other marine chapter or the alien scum.

Nothing is in real time so you can ponder moves as long as you like. You need to make good use or ranged weapons and position your men carefully to make it. If one of your men buys the farm then all that's left is left is a pair of over-size boots gently smoking.

All your favourite aliens are here - space orcs, soul suckers and the lumbering metal dreadnoughts. After selecting a target some LEDs do a spot of dice rolling to decide whether it's a hit or a miss. The enemy also gets to play 'alien events' - these range from trivial things like double attacks to devastating booby traps that wipe out half your men. No amount of planning can deal with these and they add an often infuriating random element to the game.
Complete a mission and its home for tea and medals and the chance to do it all again. The missions take a while to complete and there are plenty of them. Unfortunately they all tend to blur into similar shoot-outs.

It's fun, not fast-paced, joystick-bashing fun, but more your thoughtful, war-gamey, tactical move-type, with some mindless blasting thrown in. Issuing orders to each marine in turn can get tedious, and the tide of play can change suddenly due to a lucky or unlucky roll of the LEDs. What holds it back is the simplistic origins of the boardgame. Adrenaline addicts will have to look elsewhere as will fuddy-duddy war-game rule junkies. If you like to take your aliens at a more thoughtful and simple pace it's a good outing all round.

Space Crusade logo

Von digitalen Rennzirkus scheint man bei Gremlin derzeit die Nase voll zu haben, stattdessen stehen Brettspiele hoch im Kurs: Nach der Dungeon-hatz "Hero-Quest" brettern uns die Jungs nun eine weitere MB-Umsetzung vor den Kopf.

In ihrer englischen Heimat erfreut sich die Vorlage allergrößter Beliebtheit. Tatsächlich wurden die komplexen Raumschlachten mit den unzähligen Plastikfigürchen dort schon mit Preisen überhäuft. Hierzulande ist das SF-Spektakel freilich weniger bekannt, aber wir verraten Euch gerne, worum es dabei geht: Nachdem die Menschheit den "Warp Drive" durch den Hyperraum erfunden hat, stürmen dort wohnhaften Chaos-Kräfte (zu denen kurioserweise auch Orks gehören) mit ihren Armeen das Normaluniversum. Doch das Imperium schlagt zurück, und zwar mit den Elite-Truppen der "Space Marines", die sich heldenhaft den Monstern aus der fünften Dimension entgegenstellen.

In unserem Fall haben wir es mit bis zu drei Trupps à fünf Legionären zu tun die sich durch zwölf Missionen ballern müssen. Im wesentlichen geht es stets darum, übernommene Raumschiffe vom Feind zu säubern und/oder Ober-Chaoten zu liquidieren. Eine Session mit zwei Freunden ist ebenso möglich wie einsame Alleingänge, denn genau wie beim Fantasy-Vorgänger kann auch der Solo-Splieler alle verfügbaren Kräfte in die Schlacht werfen. Je nach der angewählte Mission (die vorgegebene Reihenfolge empfiehlt sich, ist aber kein Muß) darf man seine Leute vorher noch im Waffenarsenal eindecken und zudem mit ein paar Extras wie Zielgerät oder Medikit ausrüsten. Danach geht es mit der Enterfähre zum Einsatz: Für gewöhnlich sieht man die recht ordentlich scrollenden, 40 x 40 Felder großen Deckpläne der zu erobernden Kreuzer aus der Vogelperspektive, nur die Fights werden in animierten Iso-3D vorgeführt.

Mit bequemer Icon-Steuerung kann nun jeder einzelne Kämpfer in beliebiger Reihenfolge angesprochen und zum Gehen auf ein Feld innerhalb seiner Reichweite und/oder zum Schießen auf böse Feinde bewegt werden, wobei der Rechner die Trefferfrage auswürfelt. Jedoch ist beim Umgang mit den diversen Superböllern Vorsicht geboten, es könnte unter Umständen ein Kollege mit dran glauben!

Nach den Marines sind dann die Aliens an der Reihe, die sich übrigens längst nicht so zahm benehmen wie die Gegner in "Hero Quest". So geht's immer weiter, gelöste Missionen ziehen Beförderungen und Medaillen für den jeweiligen Commander nach sich, der seine Erfolge dann auch saven darf. All dies ist spielerisch hautnah an der Vorlage und optisch recht hübsch, lediglich die Ohren werden unausgesetzt mit Schauer FX traktiert. Erleichterung verspricht allein das Umschalten auf die wahlweise erhältlichen Soundtracks, im Gegenzug ist dafür die Maussteuerung ausgesprochen durchdacht und praktisch ausgefallen.

Wer also das Brett-Original kennt und mag, oder auch nur auf der Suche nach einer launigen Taktik-Rangelei ist, darf getrost zu diesem Kreuzzug ins All aufbrechen - Space Crusade ist nicht übel! (jn)

Space Crusade logo

Gremlin have a second bash at converting a Milton Bradley board game. But this isn't just Hero Quest in space.

Xenophobes of the world unite! We've a hot spot of off-world alien activity to counter, this time brought to use by Gremlin Graphics. Space Crusade, based on the popular Milton Bradley board game of the same name, offers humankind the challenge of blowing various shades out of those despicable, non-specific creatures we've never even met, but suspect are lurking somewhere out in the vacuum of space.

Given half the chance they'd be down here - taking our women, taking our jobs, running amok with reverse-phase Plasmoquod Gigablasters™ and generally acting like they do on telly. 'We come in peace'? Hah! Blow 'em to pieces on their home turf - that's your task here, as you control a marine chapter commander and his men, all armed to the teeth with some damn heavy-duty weaponry and intent on alien annihilation.

Based on similar lines to Gremlin's fantasy board-game conversion Hero Quest, the computerised Space Crusade sets itself quite a task in trying to improve on the thrills and strategic depth of its physical forebear. That game system's popularity stems from its dispensing with clutter - the sort found in the more anallyretentive role-playing games - to create a faster-paced adventure. But can the Amiga version match and improve on the Alien-esque suspense created so successfully by the board game?

Up to three players can take part, with the computer looking after the aliens, or you can control up to three chapters of marines by yourself. The missions, should you decide to accept them (a complete waste of £25.99 if you don't), are 12 in number and involve such tasks as wiping out every living creature in an alien craft, rescuing hostages and destroying thoroughly irresponsible devices created to tear apart the space-time continuum and bring chaos to the universe. (Whoever gave those tentacles alien toe-rags the technology to rip up space needs a severe talking too!)

The aim is to collect honour badges to successful missions and to trade the badges for increases in your commander's rank, the more equipment can be carried and the more orders can be given during a mission. So, with all that in mind, let's be off to the barracks, find out what orders we can give and get out three, five-man chapters kitted out.

The arming procedure is fairly simple, if a little tedious, but bounces along to a rather neat, Jan Hammer-like soundtrack which gets those adrenalin glands dribbling as your salivary glands slaver over the weaponry on show. Each commander gets to choose from various close-combat devices and his charges have a choice of one item of such heavy-duty stuff as rocker launchers and plasma cannon- mean-looking bits of kit to match the 'Darth Vader on steroids'-style battle armour in which they're all togged up.

Sadly, there's nothing in the way of statistics to tell you just how efficacious each weapon is, so it's a case of trial, error and hoping you're not going into battle with the techno-warrior equivalent of a fruit knife. It's also wise at this point to check on what extra goodies can be picked up.

A junior commander will have access to one piece of extra equipment - a medical kit or bionic arm or whatever - and one order, such as telling his men to fire twice during one turn in a sortie. As you go up in rank, more extra's become available and can certainly turn the tables in tougher missions.

Once armed, it's off to the docking claw, where the main playscreen pops up to show the layout of the spacecraft in which you'll be fighting. The whole scenario is shown in miniature on a sub-screen while a close-up tactical screen gives a top-down view of your immediate surroundings. But beware - aliens lurk round every corner and will only show when they're in visual range or if you scan for them. And there's a whole bunch of nasties to be encountered, each with individual means of attack.

Moving out of the claw, the initial feeling is that the gameplay plods along, and could easily become tedious - each member of each team has to be moved in turn, after all. Cast such thoughts aside though - it soon becomes apparent that this meant to play like a board game, step by step, and will soon have your brain out of blast-'em-up mode and into something more pondering and strategic.

It's now that the relevance of the different weapon types becomes apparent. Each type has different firing characteristics and each member of the chapter has a different range of movement which depends on the weight of equipment he's lugging around. This, combined with the welter of different alien types, adds greatly to the game's strategic depth.

Care must be taken when getting your men into the best attacking position, lets you end up blowing members of your own chapter away by having them stand too near a rocket strike. This really pummels the grey matter, which justifies the slow pace of the gameplay as you'll spend more time racking your brains than charging around willy-nilly.

The controls are intuitive to use - click on 'move' and the movement range of that marine will show up on the screen, all you have to do is click on the destination square - and, like the board game, dice rolls take care of combat when you end up within range of an alien. Three is also an option for hand-to-hand fighting, which takes offensive and defensive dice rolls into account and, on occasion, you can re-roll to try to improve your score.

Where the game really works is with its use of graphics. When fighting an alien, the screen flips to an isometric view in which you can see your marine shoot and, if the dice roll is high enough, the alien explode in a burst of animated flame, accompanied by jolly little 'boosh'.

After scrabbling your way through the mission's objective, with hassle all the way from those heavy alien bozos, the chapter has to return to the dock claw before the number of turns allowed runs out or they'll all die. Panic? You betcha. A cool head is needed if you're going to get your commander back for his de-briefing. It's all too easy to get the marines strung out all over the place, easy prey for the green and slimies.

Once home and safe, you're told how well, or badly, it all went and given honour badges based on the points scored for the mission. Each commander can be saved to disk ready for another mission too. Gremlin says there will be data disks available - adding to the 12 missions already included - which makes this a game what will grow and grow

In all, Space Crusade retains much of the original feel of the board game, but the computer format adds some great touches you'd be hard pressed to imitate physically, short of tipping lighter fluid over the board characters and fighting them as they get blown away. As was the point in the original game system, the emphasis is on simply strategy and on not getting bogged down by a multitude of tedious irrelevancies (roll dice to save against poison gas/tripping up/whatever). Each mission can be approached in a completely different way and you can use just one or two chapters to make things that much more tricky. Also, the prospect of more missions is a great plus.

My only gripe is that you don't get the opportunity to play the aliens, but then, if you can beat 'em, why join 'em?

This screen is the core of the game. All orders are given from here, with the 3D mode being used to get a better view of the action.
Space Crusade: User interface explanation
  1. The close-up, scrolling map of the battle arena. All movement and combat is initiated here. The arrows at the sides scroll the map around.
  2. The troop control icons - those greyed out are currently unavailable.
  3. This area displays the currently selected team member, his name and his weapon.
  4. The long range scanner gives a full over view of the battlefield. Watch out for the green dots!
  5. To the left are the team status icons, while the button on the right toggles between 2D and 3D display.

A vicious multitude of futuristic firepower is available at the arming stage, each with its own pros and cons. The plasma cannon, for instance, has a limited field of fire, but can blap through aliens with ease. In fact, the bolt carries right through a whole row of them give half a chance - great fun when they're all standing in a line just gagging for it, though make sure none of your own men are standing immediately behind the target alien when you fire!

On the other hand, the assault cannon and bolter can be pointed at specific targets, though the former is much more powerful. The missile launcher has a wide field of fire and can shoot over the heads of your own men. Plonk a rocket amid a close gaggle of aliens and see 'em smoke as one. The drawback with this piece of kit is its weight - the chap toting it lumbers around with half the movement range of a bolter-carrying marine.

The commanders are limited to choosing a power golve and sword; a power axe and hand holter; or a heavy bolter. THe first two options come into their own during hand-to-hand combat. And no, you can't throw them.

Space Crusade: Power axe and Bolter
The power axe and bolter - a neat little combination.
Space Crusade: Power glove and Power sword
Another deadly close-quarters team - the power glove and power sword.
Space Crusade: Heavy bolter
Now this is getting more like it - the very handsome heavy bolter.
Space Crusade: Standard bolter
A standard bolter - effective nonetheless.
Space Crusade: Assault cannon
An assault cannon - a seriously high power piece of metal.
Space Crusade: Missile launcher
The missile launcher - heavy duty destruction.
Space Crusade: Plasma gun
A plasma gun - just watch those aliens fry!
Some rudimentary tips for DIY genocide.

Positioning the marines for best effect takes a bit of forethought. Invariably, the mission's objectives is at the opposite end of the screen to the docking claws, so you'll have to devise strategies of movement that will ensure you move swiftly towards it without getting hemmed in by aliens.

The first lession you'll learn is that the marines are carrying some very dangerous equipment. Land a rocket on an alien standing next to one of your own chaps and they'll both blow up. Also, watch out with the plasma cannon. The bolt has an irritating tendency to zap straight through the alien and take out the marine standing behind it. Not very clever.

A good strategy when playing with three teams is to assign one as the advance party, backed up by team two to set up a crossfire with the plasma cannon and rockets, while team three takes up the rear and closes doors behind it to stop weapon attacks from behind. And if you can draw the aliens into a tight bunch, use the bolter-armed marines to shield the guys with the launchers while they fire rockets into the enemy's midst.

Also, don't go firing off orders without though. You can only use an order once in the mission and having the men able to, for example, fire, run away, fire again and close the door behind them may just save their respective rashers.

Space Crusade logo CU Amiga Screenstar

Using the same viewpoints and control system as Heroquest, Gremlin take to space in their souped-up sci-fi sequel. Set on a series of alien ships, you and your team are given a limited number of game turns in which to solve the assorted missions.

Although you control a team of five marines, your Commander is the most important and, should he be lost in a battle, the mission is deemed a failure and must be restarted. Luckily, however, the all-important Commander is far stronger and carries a more powerful weapon than the grunts - but that's the joys of rank for you.

On attacking a visible alien, the success of your assault depends on how well you roll the computer-controlled dice. However, the team's weaponry must also be taken into account - for example, a light blaster will give you one throw of a light dice, whereas a heavily-armed Commander has more throws in his favour.

The total of the thrown dice is then the strength of your attack, and any number over the armour rating of your target equals the damage caused. It's a very fair system, but the dice are very heavily loaded, with three of the six sides reading zero, and the others as one, two, and three respectively.

During a game turn, your marines are each allocated an action and movement point. The former allows them to attack using whatever means possible, whereas a movement point moves them a specified distance around the map. Everything in the game is controlled via a series of icons, with any currently-available options lit.

Once you have completed your actions, control passes to the next player or the computer-controlled enemy. The enemy also use this system, but with one important difference - The Alien Event. At the start of each turn, something odd will happen -whether it's a soul-sucking alien absorbing one of your marines, or a scan from your mothership revealing new aliens. Easily the most aggravating event, though, is the activation of the auto-defences, which always home in on your Commander.

At key points throughout each mission, you may receive a radio message from your mothership, detailing secondary objectives. For example, if your mission is to seek and destroy an alien dreadnought, you may also be called to eradicate a lesser being, too.

One improvement over Heroquest is that Space Crusade is viewed from above on a scrolling map screen. All visible aliens are marked and others appear on the map as they are spotted. Similarly, you can also use a scanner which radiates in every direction, marking suspect objects as a white star on a green background. The viewpoint can also be switched to isometric 3D, but the game runs faster in map mode.

Space Crusade has two main plus points: its atmosphere and its addictiveness. Although a full few of the decks is given, it isn't until you enter a room that you can see what you're dealing with. This generates real claustrophobia, which, coupled with the game's minimal but effective machine noises and alien squeals, is a perfect setting. The game's learning curve is perfect, too, with easy-to-get-into missions which are far from simple to solve.

Space Crusade is a classic strategy game. Its made the biggest impression on me since I saw Rebel Star Raiders on the ZX Spectrum eight years ago. Having never played the board-game, I can't comment on how well it has transferred, but on the Amiga, Space Crusade is brilliant. It has enough depth and character to keep you combing back for months to come. In fact, the best commendation I can give Space Crusade is that not since Rebel Star Raiders has a game impressed me so much.

Space Crusade logo

Gremlin is responsible for this update of the bestselling board and computer game Hero Quest. We detailed inveterate physical coward Michael 'I'd Be In there Too If It Wasn't For This Damn Leg' Horsham to kill, maim and generally cry havoc to find out whether Space Crusade was any good.

Upward and onward from Hero Quest, the scenario of Space Crusade is by no means difficult to grasp, particularly if you've played either the original board game or its computerised equivalent. Essentially the game is about some rough, tough, rootin' an' a-tootin' chapters (or groups) of space marines. Instead of being asked to play in the Space Marines Academy Band, they're politely ordered to kill lots of different aliens who inhabit the ship in which all the action takes place.

In the course of carrying out their missions - all of which concern exterminating, destroying, eliminating, purging and generally being very, very unpleasant - these tough marines dispatch their foes with a variety of weapons of the rootin', tootin' kind. You know, the usual sort of thing: plasma guns, missile launchers, bolters, power axes and elastic band catapults with paper clips in them.

At the start of the game, you're required to choose the mission, the guns and stuff, and the brave chaps who will be sent in to do the job within a given number of turns. (I'd go in too, if it wasn't for this damned leg). All of this setting-up is made incredibly easy by simply clicking on the relevant icons. Details of the mission and the orders you will need to follow can also be called up at the mere click of a button.

So, you've selected one of the 12 missions on offer, you've chosen the brave boys who will do battle with the alien foe, you've checked your orders, turned off the gas and made sure your flies aren't undone. So what happens now??

Amiga review

Michael: Space Crusade is a sort of mixture of shoot 'em up, strategy game and computerised board game. What you end up with is well-designed graphics, and an attractive set of screens with which to check out the action, the status and identity of the on-screen characters (and to top-up on orders).

There are some neat twists in the visuals department too. I particularly liked the way a fight between a marine and an alien would shape up on the 2D-style 'gameboard' screen, and then be played out in a separate axonometric, 3D-style animated sequence and you can toggle in and out of the 3D view at will.

Speaking of animation, on the whole it's smooth and adequate - the fight scenes aren't too dramatic, but then again neither is anything else. The whole game plods along at a fairly sedate, board--gameish pace, with a touch of atmosphere courtesy of some synth modulated sound samples.

The graphics are crisp and well thought-out, which makes control a piece of cake. The game fairly bristles with things upon which your cursor can alight. Clicking with the left-button on any of the icons at the bottom of the gameboard screen gives an order, and the right-button cancels. The program uses a system of highlighting and de-highlighting to display the options open to you, For example, which of the orks, soulsuckers or chaos commanders are in range of attack, how far your marines can move when it's their turn, or whether to use your scanner, close doors or deploy special combi weapons, medical kits or melta-bombs.

Given that this game is composed of elements of three different genres, it seems a little unfair to judge it on the basis of one, so I won't. Instead, I think it's fair to say that Space Crusade ploughs a similar furrow to its predecessors in the shape of 'computer game meets board game', so I guess if you enjoy board games, then you'll enjoy Space Crusade too. Stop

Space Crusade: The Voyage Beyond logo

Gremlin * New missions £14.99 * New missions + original game £29.99

Several aeons ago (AF34 - 82 per cent) we reviewed Space Crusade by Gremlin, The Voyage Beyond data disk gives you 10 new missions, but you will need the original game to use it. You will also need to be reasonably experienced with the original game or you won't stand a chance when you embark on these missions.

The enhanced features include three new ranks and a variety of interesting scenarios. The Voyage Beyond expands upon a good strategy game, but maybe you should ask yourself if you would be better off buying Shadoworlds and having it all in real time.

Space Crusade: The Voyage Beyond logo A1200 untauglich

So ändern sich die Zeiten:Vor genau elf Monaten konnte Gremlin mit einer ganz ordentlichen Brettspielumsetzung aufwarten - dieser Tage erreichte uns dazu eine Datadisk, bei der der Ärger vorprogrammiert ist!

Der Streß fängt schon mal damit an, daß die Packung offenbar ganz bewußt den Eindruck erweckt, man habe es hier mit 22 brandneuen Missionen zu tun. Tatsächlich beinhaltet die Box aber erstens das alte Originalprogramm, zweitens die zwölf alten Abenteuer und erst drittens magere zehn neue Szenarien! Okay, eine billigere Nur-Data-Version soll in einigen Wochen folgen, aber bis dahin sind bestimmt schon viele auf Gremlins Taschenspielertrick hereingefallen und haben sich für teures Geld dieselbe Soft ein zweites Mal gekauft. Pfui!!!

Nahtlos geht es weiter: Da hat das Game nun schon einen Keydisk-Schutz und muß trotzdem unbedingt noch mit Codeabfragen nerven. Besonders ärgerlich, da es theoretisch deutsche Screentexte bietet, die aber niemand nutzen kann, weil für die Paßwörter ein deutsches Manual vonnöten wäre! Das ist natürlich weit und breit nicht in Sicht - stattdessen liegt die englisch/franzözische Version bei, und erst wer notgedrungen auch solche Bildschirmtexte wählt, kann das Programm starten. Buuuh!!!

Weiterhin könnten wir uns noch daher mokieren, daß man zwar laut Anleitung alte Commander aus dem ersten Mission-Set laden darf, jedoch nirgendwo eine Beschreibung dieses Vorgangs zu finden ist. Tun wir aber nicht, schließlich wollen wir trotz all der faulen Tricks und Schlampereien das Gameplay nicht vergessen. Immerhin gilt es nämlich, sich übler Aliens aus der 5. Dimension zu erwehren, die mal wieder in unsere friedliche Galaxis brechen.

Für solche Aufgaben waren die drei Divisionen der Space Marines schon vor einem jahr wie geschaffen, und so können also erneut bis zu drei menschliche Weltenretter ihre je fünf Ledernacken rein strategisch und rundenmäßig über graue Schau-von-oben-Decks feindlicher Kreuzer steuern, in Iso-3D mit bösen Kosmikern kämpfen (wie in "Hero Quest" würfelgesteuert) und insgesamt pro Mission eine Hauptaufgabe erledigen; etwa Items klauen oder Obermotze um die Ecke bringen. Erfolgreiche Militärs werden nach wie vor befördert, und zwischen den Einsätzen darf man die Waffenkammer plündern sowie die Save-Option benützen.

Auch technisch hat sich rein gar nix geändert: dieselbe ausgereifte Maus/Icon-Steuerung, dieselben erträglichen Sounds (Musik oder FX nach Wahl) und dieselbe besonders in den dreidimensionalen Szenen recht nette Grafik. Inzwischen ist die Zeit am Amiga freilich nicht stehengeblieben, weshalb die alten Note heute nicht mehr haltbar sind. Ganz zu schweigen von den böse auf die Motivationen drückenden Unzulänglichkeiten dieses Re-Releases und seiner A1200-Untauglichkeit. Eine Überlegung ist das Teil daher maximal für Nervenstärke wert, die insbesondere die Erstveröffentlichung noch nicht besitzen. (jn)

Space Crusade: The Voyage Beyond logo

Beyond what? That's the thing.

Hut, hut, hut, hut, hut, hut, hut, splat. Yep, the lowest form of marine life is back. They do not know what they have been told, 'cos they fell asleep during the briefing, but they remember the motto - ifito movus, blastito peesus. So it is up to you to take command and try to make sure that your team of spaced-out crusaders to shoot the enemy and not each other through 10 new missions.

Space Crusade is not everybody's plastic cup of freeze-dried, machine-vended beverage, it has to be admitted. A blast 'em up where you have to wait 10 minutes between each blast and where life and death decisions are reached with dice (ones with zeros on them, for heaven's sake!) does not have universal appeal. But the strategy and planning elements of the game have some people hooked, and the dice add a sense of, well, hope, when everything looks hopeless. Luck? Nah, it was a calculated risk.

So, if you did blast, grapple and slash your way through the original there is more of the same in The Voyage Beyond. Only it is not quite the same. There are some new weapons to let rip with, some new ranks to aspire to and some new monsters to reduce to green splodgy messes (or to reduce your men to red splodgy messes). You wait till you see the new Mark VII Dreadnought - you might have thought the old ones were mean mothers, but they are just slightly stingy maiden aunts compared to this. But that is not all.

The missions in Voyage are more than just extra levels with monsters and rooms in different places. They are a logical progression from the ones in the original. A lot of them look deceptively simple, but require a great deal of thought (and pointless deaths) before you work out the best way to achieve your objectives. Some levels even have teleport pads just to complicate matters. Even more so than before you cannot just blast your way through and hope the right numbers come up on the dice.

You cannot just blast your way through and hope

Some of the new levels also look great, especially in the 3D mode. Mission Three (Locate and Launch) has some effectively gooey walls which complement the introduction of one of the new nasties, the Vilous parasites. These live down holes and pop out to trap marines in adjacent squares and suck the life out of them.

Okay, so the new missions are not drastically different, but if you like the original, they offer a worthwhile new set of challenges. But I reckon they just about stretch the concept to its limits. Any more expansions, unless Gremlin come up with something radically different, would be downright yawnsome.

Space Crusade: The Voyage Beyond logo

When it comes to deep space, trust Tony Dillon to go too far.

Just in case you cannot remember, we here at CU Towers thought that Gremlin's Space Crusade was a very nifty little game. Modelled around the Hasbro board game of the same name, Space Crusade is a story of life, eath and war aboard gigantic alien battle-cruisers. You, and up to two other friends have to board and then destroy as many aliens as possible, while trying to complete a preset mission at the same time.

However, like Gremlin's other Hasbro licence, Heroquest, most people found the missions a little too easy. I know I did, the entire game taking less than a week to complete. It is hard to say exactly where the problem was. Were the enemy units too easy to destroy? Were the missions too simple to complete, most of them revolving around finding an object and then either destroying it or taking it off the ship? Whatever the case, Gremlin have released a sequel, and it is a damn sight more challenging.

What you have here are 10 new missions for the original game, ranging from quite hard (collect a Soul Sucker egg from a ship populated almost entirely by Soul Suckers, one of the original game's nastiest creatures) to insanely hard (defeat the Soul Sucker Queen, a huge creature with about 37 different weapons all firing at once). Believe me, these are hard. It took me five attempts to complete the easiest one, and that is saying something.

The game is played out primarily on a map view, with only line of sight aliens shown on screen. However, some space marines are equipped with a life form scanner, which will show the number and location of nasties in the immediate vicinity. Unfortunately, it does not tell you what they are - they are identified simply as white stars. In the first game, it was sensible not to use the scanner, as the computer rarely activated aliens that had not been located. Using the scanner on this upgrade is suicide. I did once, and soon found myself surrounded by no less than 15 Soul Suckers inside of two turns. I told you this was hard.

That is not all, either. The Soul Suckers are now small fry compared to what else you can find on these ships. Bacteria roams free over some walls, and if you stand next to them, you will find your armour and eventually your energy dripping away. Space Ogres are quite capable of tearing you limb from limb, and enjoy displaying their skills too. On top of that you have all the aliens from the original and a new kind of Dreadnought (ED-209 in appearance, King Kong in performance).

Things are not all bad, though. You have a few new weapons and equipment/order cards to play with. You can have a force field for your Commander, if your rank is high enough, as well as numerous other toys to pad out your offensive. However, to qualify for them, you need to have a high rank, and you are not going to get a high rank with these missions. The best way to play this game is to work your way through the original first, and used your saved game disk on this.

Surprisingly enough, the graphics and sound have been given a bit of an overhaul. Not much, just a little bit. The players and aliens are slightly better defined, as are the backdrops, although the two-frame animation during combat still needs some looking at. Interestingly, the background effects, such as the distant alien groans and the occasional beep of machinery have been replaced with some pieces of music. It is not bad, but I prefer the atmospheric silence, to be honest.

Other than that, there is little I can say. If you enjoyed the original then get hold of this. If you have not got the original, where have you been? Get it now.

ANY OLD DISKS? If you've looked at the price in the verdict box and are confused by the two prices, I will explain. Gremlin are releasing Space Crusade - The Voyage Beyond in two boxes. The first will contain the original Space Crusade game plus the expansion for a mere £25.99. The second package, aimed at owners of the game will contain only the expansion. Unusually, the expansion does not require the original disk to play, and only calls for it for the sake of verification.