Warhead (Second Review)

Title		Warhead	(Second Review)
Game Type 	3D Combat Sim
Players		1
Compatability   1.3 possibly 2.0 (AGA patch available)
submission 	hkazmi@yahoo.com

  It may be just because I am a fan of hard sci-fi, but I always had a few
problems with space combat games like Wing Commander and Elite. Although
fine games there was just something wrong with the sci-fi itself. Little
problems like laser beams that enemy craft can dodge (despite the fact
that they should be moving at the speed of light) that would annoy me.
Warhead doesn`t have any of these problems. The science in it is very
  The intro scene sets the tone nicely. About 10 years ago a massive alien
fleet appeared in Earth orbit. They proceeded to flatten the Earth with
explosives before dissappearing back though quadspace (hyperspace).
Humankind has somehow managed to survive the attack and has just
discovered how to make ships that can use quadspace as well. Your job is
to protect the Earth and later as the game progresses to take the fight to
the aliens.
  The first few missions deal with training. They teach you to dock the
ship, target your weapons and use the star and system maps. Unfortunatly
these missions aren`t kept in a training section so you will have to keep
a save game of the first active mission or you will have to play them
every time you start a new campaign.
  Control of the ship is completly different to any other game I have ever
played. Moving the mouse allows you to rotate the ship in 3 dimentions.
Rotation is very quick and it is very easy to get completly disorientated
at first. However if you stick with it, you will soon be able to rotate the
ship, target an enemy behind you and fire off a missile at it in a couple
of seconds. The weapon systems are controlled by the F-Keys. Again there
are no fancy neutron guns or other unrealistic weapons here. At first all
you have are missiles and mines. You also have two special weapons, a mass
driver cannon (for shooting down enemy missiles) and the Data gathering
probe. The only way you can identify an unknown class of enemy craft is to
fire a data gathering probe at it. Before that all ships of that class are
identified as Unknown. The mass driver cannon (MDC) is your only
countermeasure against enemy missiles. Instead of firing off flares or
chaff you have to frantically target the enemy missile, wait until it
closes to under 2km and fire your MDC at it. This adds a lot to the game
especially when dealing with pseudostellar missiles which can destroy
anything within 5km.
 The mouse keys control your forward and retro thrusters. If you fire your
thrusters you will keep moving in that direction until you fire your retro
thrusters. This means that you can do some moves in combat that you can`t
do in most other games. You can fly sideways past an enemy ship and strafe
it with the MDC. If you are being chased by an enemy craft you can simply
spin round and fire missiles at it without losing any momentum. In fact
that is often the best way to fight most battles as due to relative
velocity your missiles are speeded up but theirs are slowed down giving
you a chance to hit them with the MDC.
  The oddest thing about this game is the autopilots. There are 10 of
these which are controlled by the number keys. Autopilot 1 gives you
complete control, 2 automatically points you at your target etc. I found
some of the autopilots completly useless such as the chase mode which
points at and follows the enemy but I have heard of other people finding
it useful. Getting the hang of the autopilots is the key to this game.
  The mission design is brilliant. In your first active missions the
aliens start to encroach on the human space. Missions also involve rescues
of stranded ships and exploration, and there are a couple of patrols where
nothing at all happens. These are thankfully kept to a minimum but do make
the game feel like a real war where not every sortie turns into a
firefight. Later on in the game you come across the bezerker who is
hostile to both you and the enemy. If you manage to prevent it from
destroying Earth it takes a personal interest in you. I won`t spoil it by
saying how you shake him off.
 Unfortunately, despite all the work in mission design the plot line is very
linear forcing you to replay failed missions until you succeed. It would
have been nice if the fate of the war changed depending on whether or not
you won your battles.
  The graphics are very primitive but then it is only an OCS game and
fancy graphics would have slowed the game down to a crawl. I would love to
see a graphics card/060 version of this game! The soundtrack during the
introduction is haunting and very atmospheric. However there is no music
in game and the sound effects are nothing special.
 Personally I wish that docking was automatic as it is possible to screw
up after a successful mission and smash into solbase at 1000mph. However
it does give you a lot of training in flying the ship.
  All in all this is one of my favourite games. I have completed it 5 or 6
times but still go back to play my favorite missions. The game has one of
my favourite end sequences of all time, setting up Warhead 2 perfectly. If
only I could get someone to write it.

Category list.

Alphabetical list.