Title: Buck Rogers: Countdown to Doomsday Game Type: RPG Publisher: SSI Players: 1 Compatibility: OCS (AGA?) Submission: Karl Anders Rostrup Review This game is a classic of SSI's GoldBox-series of role-playing games - it is set in a futuristic version of the Solar System... and in my opinion, this is definitely the best of all the GoldBox games. The year is circa 2456. The Earth is a polluted ruin, having been abused through centuries of heavy industry and warfare. The interplanetary megacorporation RAM (Russo-American Mercantile) has risen to become one of the greatest powers in the solar system in the 3rd Millennium, having vast resources of manpower, technology and weapons. The other major powers - Mercury and Venus - compete with RAM for political and military positions. Earth is left with dead oceans and polluted land. Only a few relatively small resistance groups try to oppose RAM's rape of the Earth, but they are hopelessly outclassed in nearly everything. The game begins as your party join one of those resistance groups - NEO (New Earth Organization) to fight for the planet mankind called its cradle, and to restore it to the blue pearl of the solar system it once was. The party hasn't even made it past the introductions before RAM forces drop onto the training base and attack, and your party must make do as best they can, and find a way to repel the RAM forces. Fighting with everything from old-fashioned knives to laser pistols and plasma launchers, you will eventually have a sizable arsenal at your disposal as the game progresses. After repelling the RAM attack, you are assigned to sift through the vast masses of wreckage in orbit around the Earth, and you happen upon a mysterious ship, virtually undamaged... and this is where the real adventure begins, as you step into the seemingly abandoned ship, and its weapons vaporize the tug you came aboard with, leaving you in dire straits indeed. You will meet several of the famous characters from the Buck Rogers universe, like Wilma Deering, Turabian and Buck Rogers himself, as you find yourself travelling the reaches of the inner solar system from Mercury out to the barbaric small communities of the asteroid belt as you strive to uncover a fiendish RAM plot in time to save the millions of people that still inhabit the Earth. Buck Rogers: CTD is like the other GoldBox games in many respects, but gives the impression that it's more thought-out than the other fantasy-RPGs that have been released on SSI's label. CTD is for one thing much faster than its fantasy counterparts, and whereas the fantasy-games have fixed classes, CTD offers you a skill-based system where you can invest skill points in whatever strikes your fancy, giving you a far greater flexibility. Like its futuristic game world suggests, getting in close with swords and hacking your enemies down isn't the best tactic anymore. No, not when you are up against advanced projectile and energy guns... though some situations are still best left to good old hack'n'slash methods. Rather than travelling by foot or horse from game location to game location, you will travel via a medium cruiser among the various stellar objects. Random encounters while travelling from location to location in space means that you encounter hostile ships... and these fights can be _very_ tricky to say the least. Only go up against a RAM Heavy Cruiser if you know _exactly_ what you are doing, or if you're feeling especially suicidal... even encounters of ships equal to your own can be devastating if you haven't got characters that have advanced to the maximum level CTD allows. But one thing you won't get around is encounters, i.e. combat. And lots of it, but not as much as the 'worst' games of the genre. Still, because the combat system is well-programmed, the number of combat scenes is more bearable. And the graphics are well done for SSI's games, also for the ship-to-ship combat scenes, complete with fitting sound effects and graphics detailing hits on the opposing (or the destruction of your) ship. Sadly, CTD is the one and only game in the Buck Rogers universe that was released... the second, 'Prime Squared,' was released on PC, but the Amiga version was likely cancelled because of the financial problems of Commodore. The sequel is one I'd love to see converted, because CTD is a game that leaves you with a feeling of accomplishment upon completition. Even playing on the easiest level offers seriously difficult encounters at times, like when you go up against RAM Combat Robots... and the ship-to-ship encounters aren't affected by adjusting the difficulty levels. Lastly, some tips that will help your chances of beating this game: Have your warriors specialize _solely_ in needle-guns. As they advance in level, their damage and to-hit bonuses will accumulate, making them very effective warriors against just about everything they encounter. Have your rogue (or another of your characters) put some points in the Computer Programming skill. This isn't all that obvious in the beginning of the game, but it pays off later in the game. Skills such as Astrogation and Planetology are as of yet unused, perhaps for the sequel, should it ever be released. If you like games of the GoldBox vein, this is the king of them all. A must in most RPG'ers collection.