The Sentinel

Title		The Sentinel
Game Type	3D Combat Sim
Players		1
Compatibility	Not AGA
Submission	Angus Manwaring Profiled Reviewer

The Sentinel by Geoff Crammond was first released for the C64 and I
believe the BBC computer. I remember reading the review in Zzap 64 and I
think two out of three of the reviewers loved it to death, but Jazza
Rignall was not so happy, and felt that it certainly wasn`t everyone`s cup
of tea. Which I suppose is fair enough. What Sentinel is though, is one of
the most original games ever created. Obviously the Amiga version of the
game is somewhat enhanced on the old 8-bit machines, but the basics remain
pretty much the same.
The Sentinel is about energy management. You, the player, exist on a sort
of island floating in space, and you must navigate your way to the highest
point of the island. It`s more complicated than that though. The islands,
there are thousands of them, are rather like a chessboard, but have many
different levels, effectively hills and valleys, of various sizes. The
"floor" though is chequered. Your movement is performed by creating a
replica of yourself and "beaming" across to it. You would then typically
absorb the husk of your old body, thereby losing no energy. It is possible
to ascend one level at a time, in this way, and so access the island`s
summit. But it`s more complicated than this..... Each island has a
Sentinel, that stands on the summit, and rotates 30 or 40 degrees every
few seconds. If he can see the square on which you`re standing, he will
start absorbing your energy, which depletes rapidly. Now on the island,
many of the squares have trees on them, a tree is the lowest unit of
energy. You can make trees, although there`s no particular point, you can
also make boulders, which are equivalent in energy terms to two trees, or
replicas of yourself (robots); worth three trees. The Sentinel (the bad
guy, not the game) is programmed to start absorbing from anything it can
see worth more than a tree, ie a boulder or a robot. This is bad news for
you, but the good news is you can absorb trees, and boulders, and
ultimately, when you can see the square he`s standing on, the Sentinel
himself. Boulders are particuarly useful, because you can use them to
make an artificial platform on which to stand. This game is largely about
your elevation. Well, that`s about it, as you can see the main problem is
explaining what the game is about, rather than saying how much you like
it. It is a superbly creative game, which can generate some very exciting
moments, particuarly when the Sentinel starts using Sentries to help him.
The Amiga version is much faster paced than the original and includes a
useful option to view the landscape as a whole while your playing. There
is also some cleverly composed background music that seems appropriate to
the gameplay. A classic game.

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