Megatraveller 2 - Quest for the Ancients

Title           Megatraveller 2 - Quest for the Ancients
Game Type	RPG
Players		1
Compatibility	All machines. (Note: game prone to lock up when Mode promoted)
HD installable  Yes (manually) (floppy save game disk required)
Publisher	Empire
Submission      John Burns ( Profiled Reviewer

This, the follow up to Megatraveller, will be familiar to players of the
first game as at first sight it seems to be more of the same. However,
this is a false assumption as there have been numerous changes to make it
more playable.

The first thing you will notice is a differently laid out interface which
makes it easier to control the game. However, the changes made under the
surface are what makes this a vast improvement over it's predecessor.
Small changes such as the auto react option mean that your party will,
surprisingly enough, react automatically to aggression and, hopefully, take
out the transgressor. The major change made which vastly improves the game
in my opinion is the ommision of the tedious space flight/manouevering
required in the first game; in this game flight between systems is merely
a few mouse clicks away.

You begin the game in the usual way by generating your characters. A word
of caution here; if you use the detailed option you get to decide which
skills your character obtains but quite a few of these are of no relevance
to the game. Bad programming you may think but, as the manual explains,
this was done to enable you to generate a party for use in the original
paper based AD&D game on which this is based. The manual further explains
which of these skills are not needed in the game so in fairness if you
choose skills which you can't use you have no-one to blame but yourself.
Thinking further on this it must have annoyed people who had pirated
copies without manuals. He, he, serves them right.

The plot is explained to you at the start when an Ancient Site on the
planet Rhylanor is sabotaged and ooze starts to leak out and, as it
spreads, threatens the planet with destruction. Of course, your bunch of
adventurers are just the chaps to sort this out.

And so begins the game proper.

The main game area is viewed from an overhead perspective with a zoom
option available. The graphics are nothing outstanding if not rather basic
but nonetheless adequate. Unlike the first game where you were immediately
thrust into a fight whereby some/all your party could be killed in this
game you initial task is just to gather some info. This again is a good
improvement as it gives you time to get used to controlling your party and
to sort out their inventories, buy equipment and generally ease yourself
into the game.

Non player characters (NPCs) are coloured green when they can be conversed
with and white when they will not interact with you. Once you have spoken
with a green NPC their colour will change to white and you will no longer
be able to talk with them so it's a good idea to make a note of what they
told you as you can't ask them again. Of course if they give you a task
which requires you to come back to them they will remain green indicating
this. The third colour of NPC which you encounter is red which means that
they will attack you when in range.

Sub tasks abound in the game and invariably involve you fetching from A to
B for a reward. Once again you would be advised to write down the task as
othewise you will soon lose track of who wanted what and from where - such
are the number of tasks involved. There are other ways to make money such
as killing the various outlaws who you chance upon (if you are hard enough
to kill them) with the added bonus of getting their weapons. Of course you
cannot just go to every planet and shoot at people, on some planets for
instance the law level is so high that you will not be able to use any
weapons unless you like being sent to jail, and have the money to pay the
fine to get yourself out. The way of course to make most money and
incidentally part of your main task is to get hold of ancient artifacts
which will help you solve the problem on Rhylanor. Another way to get
money is to enter a casino where you can spend some of your money on the 3
gambling options available, though I only ever managed to win any
reasonable amount on the fruit machines using a character with some
gambling skills.

So far I haven't highlighted any problems with the game but of course
there are some. The auto react feature, whilst generally good can, in
certain situations, result in your characters, apart from the leader who
you directly control, running off screen to attack someone. Your only
indication of what is happening apart from sound is seeing the health bars
deteriorating, Yikes. Of course this needn't be fatal as you can always
heal someone if you are quick enough and have the necessary equipment. The
movement between planets whilst easy suffers from the fact that, as in
real life, to get from A to C may mean going via G and not through B, with
over a hundred planets available to visit this is confusing sometimes when
you can't remember the exact route to a planet. Of course if you've found
the hidden (ancient) spacecraft things do get easier. One control problem
is that when you wish to talk to a moving NPC, if you aren't quick enough
he will have moved out of range before you have selected talk to from the
menu, annoying to say the least.

One bug which I found is that you can complete the game without all of the
32 necessary 'coynes' (needed to obtain the artifact) which you are told
you must have (in fact I've never been able to find them all). I am
inclined to think that this info was wrong, from memory I seem to recall
only finding about 26. The biggest fault of the game of course has to be
that it's too easy coupled to the fact that there is no random element to
the tasks which means that you'll likely only play it once or maybe twice
at most.

So in summary, A worthwhile game which, whilst by no means perfect (is
there such a thing?), is well worth a look, though admittedly it won't be
to everyones liking. If you played the original and were put off by that
then I would say forget that game and try this out as it shows that the
programmers learnt from the critisisms of the original. A more than
worthy sequel.

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