Title		Virus
Game Type	3D Action
Company		Firebird
Players		1
Compatibility	All
Submission	Angus Manwaring Profiled Reviewer

When the Archimedes computer first appeared it was very soon blessed with
an extremely impressive demo called Lander. Written by David Braben, the
innovative albeit limited gameplay featured a simple spaceship, which
remained in the centre of the screen, able to pitch, roll and yaw, above a
3D landscape, which depending on your mouse inputs, held almost rock steady
while you hovered, or rocketed past at an alarming rate when you went to
maximum burn. It has been stated that the Lander routines were at one time
to be used in the followup to Elite, but I think I read somewhere that this
isn`t infact the case. The game looks very like Binary Asylum`s excellent
Zeewolf games, which were clearly influenced by this game, and also
Conqueror, for which Davd Braben allowed his code to be adapted. If you`re
not familiar with these games then the action takes place above a very
attractive landscape of undulating hills carpetted with a patchwork of
fields, and including various trees, buildings and lakes.

The demo was soon replaced on the Arc by the full game known as Zarch, and
later on appeared as Virus on the Amiga and Atari ST. People had said that
the Amiga would not be able to cope with the game and that only the
Archimedes offered sufficient power to do the job. Well, it`s possible the
Arc version has some refinements not featured in the Amiga version, but I`m
here to tell you that on the Amiga this is a great game. In Virus, it`s no
longer just a scenic flight followed by landing. You are there to protect
the landscape from a deadly virus brought in by aliens! More on them later
though. Essentially Virus is a level-based 3D shoot-em-up. You fly around
destroying enemy ships while keeping a careful eye on your fuel state. Every
time you are hit by enemy fire your fuel decreases. You can replenish though
by landing at your base, but this is often a dangerous business when faced
with a ruthless enemy who is not about to look the other way while you are
filling up your tank. You also have missiles, which when fired will lock
on to the nearest viable target. These are best saved for later, when the
going gets really tough.

I`ve often come across people saying the game is impressive but unplayable,
the control method is apparently just too difficult to manage. Rubbish! If I
can handle it, anyone can. It`s just a case of learning how the mouse
control works. Basically, your mouse represents your ship. When your mouse
is centred up, your ship will be on an even keel with it`s thrusters
directed downwards, but move the mouse in any direction and the ship will
tilt correspondingly. Applying the thrusters at this point will move the
ship across the landscape in the corresponding direction. To begin with
you tend to over-correct, and this causes some spectacular crashes with the
ship tumbling out of control and hurtling to it`s doom. Hilarious for any
spectators but unproductive for the player. Soon enough though, you`ll learn
to control your craft and find the mouse`s central position instinctively. A
slight over-correction is ideal though, as this leaves you perfectly
positioned to apply the brakes. After a while you`ll be able to pull off
some really flashy manoeuvres, streaking towards your target at treetop
height, and firing with deadly effect as you sideslip past him.

Okay: The aliens. Their intent is to infect your world with a virus that is
distributed by certain craft. These craft should obviously be treated as a
priority, although several attack ships swarming around you can be quite a
distraction. The Bomber is one such prime target, flying in straight lines
over your green and pleasant land and making it brown and horrible by
dropping parachutes laden with the deadly spore. By this time you`ll think
that you`ve already met the Fighters, but all you`ve  met are the fairly
easy attack ships. The Fighters provide much more of a challenge. Too much,
some might say. If you`re lucky you`ll come across the sea monster. It`s not
a threat as such, but it does provide a worthwhile bonus. I should mention
the radar system. At the top of the screen is your scanner which shows your
entire world, it`s square and uses a wrap-around system. As you fly over the
landscape you`ll notice the radar towers that provide the scanner`s picture.
The thing is, if you accidentally take out one of these towers the
corresponding area on the scanner goes black, and suddenly you know a lot
less about what is going on.

Virus is an exceptional game. It contains the straightforward blasting
appeal of classic games like defender, the innovative approach that you`d
expect from half of the team that brought us Elite, and a far greater
sensation of flight than just about  any conventional flight-sim that I`ve
experienced. I have never mastered the game, while I can hold my own on the
earlier levels the advanced dogfighting is beyond me. Don`t believe what
they tell you though, the control method is a dream, once you get used to

Category list.

Alphabetical list.