Future Wars: Time Travellers

Title		Future Wars: Time Travellers
Publisher	US Gold (1989)
Developers      Delphine
Game Type	Adventure
Players 	1
HD Installable	Yes (With WHDLoad)
Compatibility	OCS (All with WHDLoad patch)
Submission	John Burns (john@jgb.abelgratis.co.uk) Profiled Reviewer

Long before Amiga adventure fans were subjected to the surfeit of
graphical richness which was provided by games such as Monkey Island, we
were given only the limited colour and animation of the Sierra and early
LucasArts products. Good though the adventures themselves may have been
the graphics were, to put it mildly, flat and primitive. However, from
this graphical wilderness the French developers, Delphine, brought forth a
new style which they called "Cinematique" incorporating an adventure style
within an animated game.

The first game that utilised this new technique was Future Wars. Gone was
the flat lifeless movement of the character sprite, no more did it look
like your character was a piece of paper being moved jerkily over a flat
painted background - here was a game in which the character appeared to
interact with his environment in a more fluid and life-like manner. There
was depth to the background and a sense of 3D, with the character's
movement within that area reflecting this perspective. Gone too were the
basic simple colours of Zak and his kin and their worlds to be replaced
with proper shading and enhanced palettes. Even today its graphics are
nice and they certainly make many of its contemporaries look older than
they are.

So graphically this game is above that of its peers but as an adventure
where does it stand? Well, overall it is somewhat linear in play and
whilst there is the odd puzzle to solve which may require some lateral
thought, in general the problems encountered verge on the easier side of
average and provided you've found the necessary items there shouldn't be
any problem in figuring out what to use where. I don't think I once had to
use the old ploy of trying every item out with another to solve a problem.
That said, when I first played it I couldn't for the life of me figure out
how to get rid of my boss - one of the first problems - till someone told
me. (No Internet to provide walkthroughs and cheats in those days).

Aside from the adventuring elements of the game there are a couple of
arcade sections. The first is around the middle of the game and is a sort
of Op Wolf style shoot em up where you have to kill a certain amount of
aliens and the other is at the end and involves you having to negotiate a
snakes and ladders style scrolling screen maze to get to the final
objective and then to the exit all within a tight time limit. This final
part of the game is perhaps the weakest and hardest part as it involves
pure trial and error rather than any real skill - I defy anyone to say
they managed it without having to reload from a saved game. After many
attempts I myself used a map from a cheat book and even then the time
limit makes it pretty difficult.

Control of the game is by mouse using the good old point and click
technique. I suppose by today's standards the game controls could be made
better but for its time and even now it was, and is, pretty much intuitive
and up to the task. Saving and loading games from floppy is pretty quick
and there is a pause facility which can be pretty handy during the arcade
sections if you need to take a breath and recharge your mouse finger.

The game has its faults such as the odd silly puzzle and bad translation
resulting in a "Franglais" sort of word. Like a lot of other point and
click adventures you do need to examine just about everything and some
important items are little more than a coloured pixel (the map flag at the
start for instance). Many games both before and since have suffered from
this same problem and it is annoying when it happens and you have to
reload a saved game to re-search a previous location for a missing item
which you need. There is no going back to a previous location once you
have entered a new one in this game and often items found are required on
later levels not the one on which you presently are.

For me this was a really good game and one worthy of praise, maybe not as
an outstanding product in itself but as a forerunner of what was to come.
Many praise the animation etc. of Delphine's later games, Another World
and Flashback (and rightly so), but seem to forget that this was their
antecedent - had this one been unsucsessful then maybe they wouldn't have
been made. If you liked Another World and Flashback but haven't seen or
tried Future Wars then I'd say get a copy and see from where those games

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