Title Midwinter II: Flames of Freedom Game Type 3D Combat Sim Players 1 HD Install Rudimentary - must be in root directory of DH0: -> DH3: click for more info Compatibility All Submission Angus Manwaring Profiled Reviewer Review Right, for those of you haven`t played Midwinter I, it was a 3D polygon based romp over the frozen island of Midwinter where you had to recruit friends and defeat the evil invaders who fancied your lump of ice. In Midwinter II though, time has passed, the climate has changed, and now you find yourself as a special agent who must defend another island against the rapid advance of the evil Saharan Empire. So not entirely different then? No, it`s not, but the game has definitely got bigger. (Initiating movie trailer voice) THIS TIME ......there`s a whole swarm of different islands!! THIS TIME .......the people are represented in glorious 3D!!! (Sort of) THIS TIME .......you`ll be driving Land Rovers!!! (Might be Jeeps though) THIS TIME ........you`ll be flying helicopters!!!! THIS TIME ........you`ll be destroying secret underwater bases!!!!!!! (Cancelling movie trailer voice) So as you can see, an awful lot has been added (switch to game magazine reviewer mode) but is it enough? (Sorry). Well, yes and no. On the plus side, the game is just like a James bond movie; you get your mission briefing, arranging your mission objectives and your mode of transport to the target island, then you leave for the island. Once there, you make contact with the friendly locals, and try to locate your objectives. These might be the sabotage of a building, the assassination of an enemy, or the recruitment of a particularly useful individual. Usually, it`s more complex than this though, because you`ll come across people who can offer you vital aid, but only if you fulfill certain conditions, effectively another mission. It never get`s too complex though, because the game creates a useful notebook feature that keeps track of exactly where you stand with each person you`ve met, and all the important details that you`d otherwise have to write down. The islands are pretty big, and the map utility has many advanced features, to make your job easier. The incidental graphic screens, particuarly the advance time image, are a joy to me, and have caused many a smile. The filing cabinet featured in one of these images has a Midwinter I coffee mug on top of it, and as I still drink out of the one that came with my copy of the game, this was amusing, atleast for me. The game also has RPG elements of a sort, your attributes range from sturdiness to sex appeal, the latter being very useful, if you half fancy your warden, should you be taken prisoner by the enemy. The game also offers a strategic element, in that, the wider mission is for you to prevent the Saharans lines of supply enabling their forces to advance easily. You can also opt to play the game in a sort of combat practice mode rather than taking on the whole campaign. And you can do all this in a variety of guises; also featured is a character generator, where you can select from a choice of facial features, and jiggle them around to attempt to make an approximation of your good self, or take on the face you`ve always wanted. I think you can probably tell that Midwinter II boasts a fearsome arsenal of features, and that the programmers have delivered an ambitious project that has been designed with care and I`m sure a lot of enthusiasm. The 3D works very nicely with or without faster processors, having a good variety of buildings, a huge variety of vehicles, (check out the flying subs) and the terrain itself is not the usual flat rubbish with a few green pyramids stuck on it, but genuine terrain with jagged coastlines, hinterland plains, rolling hills and mountains, as well as the underwater landscapes. It`s a pity, in my view, that people these days are so hooked up on texture mapping, advanced shading techniques and the like, and that they didn`t keep things relatively simple, but with a terrain as comprehensive as that seen in Midwinter II. Anyway, I`ve praised the game to the point of nausea, what can I say against it? Only this; for me, when you`re actually on a mission, and you encounter a Tank Squadron, or a Fighter Squadron, or a convoy of armed lorries, the actual tactics are not very engrossing. You have fun dodging around, and blowing several vehicles away, until your vehicle get`s hit and you are hopefully able to leap into another one and finish the job, but it`s not very challenging. I`d of sooner taken on just one or two vehicles, where I had to really be on the ball to beat them, than fairly casually put away a whole swarm of the things. For me, if this detail had been tightened up a bit, it would have improved, what is already a very fine game, to a surprisingly high degree. But you can`t have everything, and as I think I`ve probably demonstrated, Midwinter II offers far more than most. UPDATE It's several months later and I've finally finished the game. Look, I don't only play games, okay? I've got a life, y'know? Sort of. Anyway, my views of Midwinter II are pretty much the same, but I do have one or two further criticisms. I found out that when you're in a firefight, there is quite a good chance, unless you're very careful, you'll inadvertently take out a friendly person. Now that isn't normally too much of a problem, but occasionally, if the person is vital to completing that island, and you accidentally save the game before realising your mistake ....you're going to be pretty well stuck. You can't abort the mission and do it again, you can't even abort and skip that particular island. All you can do is initiate the Saharan Armada's attack or restart the game. The game expects you to be able to successfully complete each mission, and if you make a mistake like this, it is quite unforgiving. I even made my way back to base, and tried getting into the HQ, but it didn't want to know. Oh well, it didn't take me that long to replay the whole thing! I also noticed a couple of glitches, where sometimes if you reload a game, your craft will instantly crash, or people and vehicles suddenly become invisible. You can get round these fairly easily though, either by reloading or switching to another screen and back. Good points? Yes, the endgame, where the Armada is launched adds a welcome change of pace. It's exciting and atmospheric, and you really reap the advantages of your earlier strategy .....or not. The actual victory sequence is pretty satisfying as well, (not that I've seen many) and having your character's face appear on Time magazine is a nice touch. To conclude then, Midwinter II obviously was a labour of love, the enthusiasm and attention to detail are clearly there, only a few small oversights let the game down slightly, and if the tactical (shootin') side of Midwinter II had been given a bit more depth, then the game would be really awesome instead of just very good.