Computer games are loved for many reasons, but the overriding attraction is that while engaged, the player is transported toa place in his or her mind where just about anything is possible.
Wartime Germany or modern day middle east can be bombard utilizing period technology to the full, new worlds can be explored in the Space Shuttle, mythical lands exorcised of demons and the wave of a hand and the cast of a spell, and motor racing circuits can be created and raced around at break-
Shuttle, Wing Commander, Legend of Kyrandia, Project X - the names are all strongly suggestive of action, intrigue and adventure, which is precisely what we gamers crave. Call a game Puddle or Cheese Plant and it just doesn't conjure up the same image.
Similarly, if it's a crazed and frantic contest that you're after, then an affair called Walker isn't necessarily going initiate an adrenalin flood, because lets face it - unless you own a pair of stout shoes and a durable nylon rucksack, walking simply isn't very interesting.
Names can be deceptive though - I remember shortly after beginnign high school, I picked a fight with a lad called Hillary; he gave me the drubbing of my life and taught me a valuable lesson in presumptuousness. By the same toke, far from being a dull and boring one-leg-
Sometime in the near future, law and order throughout the world have broken down. Due to rapid technological advances, enemies are able not only to destroy each other with what have become conventional weaponry, but can eliminate entire forces by travelling backwards and forwards through time in massive time travelling weapons - a la Back To The Future - and destroying their ancestors, thus ensuring their foes were never born. By Jove!
The flagship of this curious clock-
You take charge of the Walker as it stalks through four different points in time, seemingly forgetting its mission and destroying every single thing that moves. The enemies vary according to the point in time which you currently stand (or walk - guffaw!): Lancaster Bombers and Army trucks lead the bombardment in the World War One stage; space-age vehicles take over the mantle of the Future level, and a whole array of semi-
Having mentioned it earlier on, you may now be wondering quite how a shoot-'em-up featuring a "tank on legs" could work. Very simply, is the answer. Unusually, the screen scrolls from right to left, and the Walker is controlled by a combination of the mouse and keyboard. The cursor keys (or certain letter keys) are used to move big W backwards and forwards, while the mouse comes into play to manipulate the weapons.
The Walker itself is a pleasure to watch. A massive 81 frames of animation ensure that every move it makes is impressively smooth as it stomps its way to destruction. Enemy characters are contrasting - most (with the notable exception of the level guardians) are quite small and plain in colour - but the animation, both of these and of the atmospheric backgrounds, are such that the two styles complement each other well.
The backdrops also change in accordance to the time frame, and the number and speed of the enemies ensure that boredom will be a long time in setting in. What helps Walker really stand out from the crowd though, is the sound. Seldom are you likely to hear more realistic or fearsome in game samples as these, and the pumping intro tune (seven minutes long!) does an excellent job of creating an atmosphere conducive to killing.
When we previewed Walker a couple of months ago, it was thought that there would be the option to actually control the machine from inside the cockpit. Three isn't and having seen the game it becomes obvious that an attempt at implementing this would spoil the game.
Developers DMA have managed to combine the best elements of several games in coming up with Walker - a tough, fun, addictive and original shoot-'em-up that oozes quality and spews out action like there's no tomorrow.
Power-ups would have been nice, and a pause option wouldn't have gone amiss, but this is a great release from Psygnosis - a real tension reliever.