Title Midwinter II: Flames of Freedom (Second Review) Game Type 3D Combat Sim Publisher Microprose (1991) [Rereleased by Kixx] Players 1 HD Install Rudimentary - must be in root directory of DH0: -> DH3: More info below Compatibility All Submission Dennis Smith Profiled Reviewer Review In the sequel to Midwinter, the action moves from the icy island peaks to a tropical island chain known as the Slave Isles. 41 of these islands are controlled by the evil Saharan Empire, only one, Agora, remains free. But the signs are that this freedom will not last long. Your goal is to set out from Agora on a number of missions, to overthrow Saharan control and free as many islands as possible before the Saharan Empire launches an offensive on Agora itself. When that day comes, the more islands you have freed, the better chance you have of wiping out the Saharan forces. In this game, every action you take has a long term effect. On the one hand, there is strategy; success in this game relies on careful choice of which islands to emancipate. The route the enemy takes to reach Agora will depend on which islands have been taken, and consequently it is actually better in the long run to leave some islands alone than to free them all. This may seem a little far-fetched (from the point of Sahara's strategists) but the result is a fascinating strategic puzzle. Then there are the missions themselves, each a blend of action and strategy. Like Midwinter, you have numerous modes of transport, and much more variety than the previous game, from speedboats and balloons to tanks and the amazing 'flying sub'. Completing the missions requires certain tasks to be completed, such as blowing up buildings, destroying enemy squadrons and recruiting key individuals. How you succeed at these tasks, particularly the latter, depend on the strengths and weaknesses of your agent, both in terms of character and physical abilities. You can customise your own agent or use a default. The 3D display is, well, let's just say it's from 1991. It was designed to work on an A500 or an Atari ST. The detail level isn't huge, the depth of perception trails off all too quickly, especially from the air, and it's none too quick. But it works. It puts you in the thick of the action and serves its purpose well, providing both day and night environments. The sounds are OK, the music becomes irritating (ported straight from the PC and the unimpressive sound-cards of the era) but it's not a major part of the play. The gameplay is where the game stands out, and it's there in spades. You've got real freedom to go where you like, you can leap, James Bond-like from vehicle to vehicle and how you go about freeing the Slave Isles is entirely up to you. You can play the game just for the biplane dog-fights or you can spend a couple of hours reviewing all the strategy. Best is to play the campaign as a whole, and even when you finish there will still be plenty of island missions which you haven't done that you can go back and have a go at. There's a real classic of a game somewhere inside Mike Singleton's head. Midwinter had real atmosphere, like few games before it or since, with loads of fine detail about the individual characters. Its major failing is its poor longevity, there being only one mission to complete. The sequel solves that problem and provides a massive landscape with many more options, but in so doing has been forced to sacrifice the level of detail, and so it doesn't have the same gritty atmosphere of revolutionary activity. If Singleton and his Maelstrom team can ever put the atmosphere of the first into the scope of the second - well, that's as near to perfection as anyone could hope for. But don't let Flames Of Freedom's dated display or apparent shallowness put you off; there's a really fine game under the surface. HD-installation =============== Flames of Freedom has a very simplistic hard-drive compatibility - it searches for files in one of four locations (after it's checked the floppy drives) - these being the root directories of 'DH0:', 'DH1:', 'DH2:' and 'DH3:'. Fortunately, this means that if you don't have a hard-drive partition for each of these, then you can make an assign from one of these to the directory in which you have put Flames of Freedom. The easiest way to do this, then, is to use one of the already provided installers, the 'Install to SYS:' installer will do nicely. First of all, you'll have to reassign SYS: somewhere else (it normally points to the partition which contains Workbench). Make a directory for your FoF files (for example 'Games:Midwinter2/') then assign SYS: to that directory from cli: assign SYS: [FoF directory] (for example: "assign SYS: Games:Midwinter2") Now when you run FoF's 'Install_to_SYS:' program, the game will be installed to your chosen directory. Next you need to make an assign to this directory. If you don't have a partition called DH3: then it really couldn't be simpler. Add a line to your user-startup which assigns DH3: to the relevant directory: assign DH3: [FoF directory] (for example: "assign DH3: Games:Midwinter2") Then reboot your computer and you should be able to run Flames of Freedom directly from your hard drive. If you use a dynamic ASSIGNing program like AssignZ or MCP, you must manually add the DH3: assign in your assigns-list in the format appropriate to the relevant program. If you already have four hard-drive partitions named DH0: through to DH3: then things get tricky. You will need to disable one of the drives - NOT your Workbench drive or the drive containing Flames of Freedom - before you then reassign that drive to the Flames of Freedom directory. This should be done in a script file which is run immediately prior to running Flames of Freedom. For example, if Workbench is on DH0: and Flames of Freedom is on DH2:, you could disable and reassign DH3: to your Flames of Freedom directory with the following two lines: assign DH3: DISMOUNT assign DH3: [FoF directory] (for example: "assign DH3: Games:Midwinter2") After running these lines, Flames of Freedom should now work from your hard-drive. The alternative of course would be to install FoF to the root directory of one of the DHx: partitions, though most people would prefer to keep games in separate directories.