Starfighter: D'Yammen's Reign logo

Paul Cavanagh straps himself into his nasty looking spaceship, locks and loads his big weapons and looks for something to blow up.

There's a distinct lack of 3D space simulators on the Amiga (can you remember the last time one was released? Epic? Wing Commander? A long time ago, anyway). So it's about time that we got something new. But is it any good?

Well, to be honest, it's not bad, but it isn't nearly as good as it should be. It has the potential to keep you playing for a long while - there are plenty of missions which can be attempted as the good guys, the bad guys or a rogue trader, who is only in it to make money. There are some fairly impressive cutscenes and a music score that isn't half bad. The gameplay can become quite involving, but to be honest this game doesn't really impress me very much.

So what's the problem? Well, there's more than one, but let's start with the graphics. The only thing you see during gameplay are lots of stars, with other ships zipping about. No suns, planets or interesting space stations to look at. The ships in the game are crudely rendered and the graphics are messy and glitch. The cockpit design of the ships is also fairly crude, there's a distinct lack of imagination in the use of colours. Almost everything on screen is either black or grey which means that the game is terribly bland. If your ship is shot the whole screen flashes, which just looks messy, as though the game is bugged. Most of the time the game runs fairly smoothly, and it feels as though you are floating through space, but there's just not enough polish here, and there's certainly nothing that would make you want to sing the praises of Starfighter, which is a shame. The Amiga is more than capable of running these sort of games with lot more style than is on offer here.

Another problem is that there just aren't enough features in this game. There are no external views - you can't even see what's happening behind you without turning your ship around. There are only two different weapons - lasers and missiles. You can upgrade the power of the lasers and missiles, but it would be better if you could buy new types of weapons (you know the sort of thing - you start with concussion missiles and build your way up to super smart nuke-type homing missiles). While there are eight different ships, they're all fairly similar, it's just that they have varying top speeds, turning circles, weapon capacities, etc. Selecting a different ship doesn't radically alter the gameplay style, in fact, it's pretty hard to tell the difference between them.

There's a distinct lack of imagination in the use of colours, almost everything on the screen is either black or grey which is bland

Another feature that would have been welcome is trading. Even though there is the option to play a rogue trader, there is still no option to actually engage in trading. As a rogue trader, the objective is to hang until ships are destroyed, and then pick up the debris. At the end of a mission this debris is automatically sold, and you are credited with the proceeds. There's no option to wait until marked prices improve and you can't select different types of commodity, so a potentially involving aspect of the genre has been completely neglected.

It's worth pointing out that the copy of the game that I was running is bugged. On a few occasions the game just crashed for no apparent reason, and I found the save game system to be unreliable. Epic Marketing say a new version of the game will be shipped soon, so I hope that these problems have been addressed.

If you like this sort of game, it's probably worth your while buying it - it's not bad, but don't expect to be amazed. It really is a shame that a little more work and imagination couldn't have been put into this game, because it's got a lot of unrealised potential.