Elite plus

Title		Elite plus
Game Type	3D Combat Sim
Players		1
Compatibility	All (floppy only)
Submission	Isaac Abraham

I'm reasonably confident that you've heard of this game (I know that Angus
has =), and after hearing everyone rave on about it since the dawn of time
I decided to get a copy of this to see what it was all about. Bear in mind
that, in a Star Wars like fashion, I'd already gotten the sequel to this,
Frontier. Now I knew that Elite was a simpler version of Frontier, and
that it was supposed to be more fun that the "drudgery" of Frontier, so
when I got home from HMV after buying it with Wing Commander and
MegaTraveller (for the grand total of just 9), I played it straight away.
Well, actually I played WC first, but it was too slow on my A500 at the
time, so I plonked Elite+ in the floppy drive.
It loads up with some reasonably chirpy music, and places you at Lave
station. The idea is to fly from star system to star system, selling goods
for profit, killing the occasionally pirate along the way, and boosting
your reputation into the bargain. A lot like Frontier, I thought. Only
there are several annoying things about this game. Firstly, there's no way
to find out what goods other systems import and export! If you don't know
this, how do you know what to buy and sell? Trial and Error, unfortunately.
As a result of this, you tend to stick to systems that you know about,
because there's less risk of ending up with cargo that you'll make a loss
on. Admittedly, the game give's hints by saying what type of society they
are, but it's all a bit vague. Second problem. Docking. It will take you
about 5 minutes to dock your ship.
Consider that you spend about 2-3 minutes buying and selling goods on a
typical trip, plus 3-4 minutes travelling from system to system (and having
the occasional fight), and that about 50% of game time spend docking. This
mind numbingly boring problem can be alleviated by buying a "docking
computer", but this requires you to have a fair amount of money (probably
about 50 trips worth = 250 minutes of docking time). Thirdly, the game
often randomly decides to make you a fugitive, and send the police after
you. Invariably, you get killed, and have to reload the game, for no
reason. Now that that's out of the way, I can get onto the plus points.
The combat is at least more engaging than Frontier, and it runs fairly
smoothly. And those pesky Thargoids that occasionally have a pop at you
liven things up too. But probably the game's strongest thing in it's favour
is the actual genre of the game - starting off as a nobody and building up a
reputation, with better weapons and shields is very appealing. However,
having said that, it only takes about a week of solid gaming to get the
ultimate craft. Once that's done, all that remains for you to do get the
"Elite" ranking by shooting god knows how many ships down. But certainly it
got boring withing a fortnight of playing. And anyway, Frontier does this
much better IMHO. I must admit, I was disappointed with Elite+. People raved
on about it like it was the next best thing to sliced bread, but I found
Frontier much more engaging, it had better long term appeal, and Elite just
didn't really get me going. Sorry Angus, call me a heretic if you like, but
for me, Elite wasn't half that it was cracked up to be.

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