Title Starfighter: D'Yammen's Reign Game Type 3D Action Publisher Epic Marketing Players 1 Compatibility ECS/AGA HD Installable Yes Submission Eric Haines (firstname.lastname@example.org) Review My first encounter with Starfighter was some years ago, when it appeared as a shareware game that I downloaded onto a bunch of disks. It attempted a Star Wars-type space battle experience and in some ways was almost successful. At least I remembered it when the commercial version appeared a year or two ago (there are both 1998 and 1999 copyrights), to no particular signifigance. As it turns out, that's understandable. Starfighter is by no means a great game. There's a lot more to it than the shareware version, but in the end it's not improved by much. It's still a little rough around the edges, and it still is no more than "almost successful" in its goals. More polishing could have turned it into a respectable effort, because most of the elements are in place. My first problems came with the installation procedure. It's possible to play directly from CD, but that didn't work too well for me. The hard disk installation comes to around 130 MB, though it took me a while to figure that out because the install script...er, crashed. Not too professional. Fortunately, it turned out to be just as easy to drag all the drawers over to my hard drive. The next problem was launching the game. It uses up lots of Chip RAM - you need 2 MB as a matter of fact. The procedure to get as much free Chip RAM as possible involves running from a RAD: drive, but I had problems with SetPatch and software resets and so on, so that didn't work at all. Once again my PicassoIV saved the day: Normally I have almost all my Chip RAM free anyway. So I did away with the included game-launching programs, and just made a script that switches to the "Starfighter" directory and runs the "executeable" program. Presto, the game finally worked. Now, some effort was obviously put into the presentation, but it still looks like an early '90's game. It runs on ECS machines, so we're talking low-res, 32 color graphics here with no AGA enhancements. Gameplay is executed with simple flat-shaded polygons. There's mention of Lightwave used to render the (many, though short) cutscenes, but don't expect Babylon 5 quality. Frankly I've done almost as well using POV-Ray. There's lots of digitized speech, which is of low quality, but that actually works in this context and is a nice touch. Starfighter spools music from disk like OnEscapee, but unlike that game it only uses one channel so it comes out of one speaker, which sounds odd. But it's not too bad music. The game involves flying missions, the goal of which is to blow stuff up - mostly enemy ships. You can play 1 mission, 3 missions, training missions, or the full campaign. Also there's an "arcade mode", which is similar to a very old Atari space battle game, the name of which escapes me at the moment. It's better to start with the training missions and refer to the (tiny) included keyboard chart, because the AmigaGuide documentation isn't very well written or organized. It's not a terribly complicated game anyway. You get to choose from a number of ships, and side with the good guys, the bad guys, or just be a neutral pirate. I've done pretty well so far with a Star Wars B-Wing style ship, though it's not much different from the training mission craft. If you win missions, you can repair or upgrade your ship. If you fail mission objectives but survive, the next mission will reflect that, so the game isn't linear, which is a good thing. What's not such a good thing is the actual flying around and shooting. The set-up is promising, if fairly standard, but the execution doesn't quite work. I found it difficult to use the radar to find enemy ships, though practice alleviates that a little. The collision detection is way off - either there is none (you can fly right through cargo ships and space stations), or I found my shields getting depleted for no apparent reason even though I wasn't near anything. It seems better to aim at the edge of objects instead of right at them. So, the gameplay could objectively be called seriously flawed. But despite this, and the slightly glitchy quality of the game (like when you quit, you're presented with a screen that says "yes" and "no" - choosing "yes" puts you back in the game, "no" actually quits, hmm...) - despite that, it's actually kind of fun in a simplistic sort of way. I don't regret buying it, probably because it only cost me $20 and there's just enough good stuff in there to make it worthwhile. When it works - and it does come together sometimes - it is almost like taking place in a Star Wars space battle. Too bad it couldn't work well all the time, but if you've got a little spare cash, it's a way to spend a few hours while waiting, endlessly, for Explorer2260.