Title XP8 Company WeatherMine Software Game Type Shoot-em-up Players 1 Compatibility AGA Submission Ken Anderson This Amiga Report review appears here by courtesy of Jason Compton Review You know how it is - sometimes you just want to sit down in front of your computer and not really think about what you're doing. The marketing people call it "visual bubble-gum", but marketing people would call a spade a manually-operated earth-excavation device if they though that people would pay an extra 25% for it. Enter XP8, from the independent WeatherMine Software. Perfect for those times when mindlessly killing a few aliens will soothe all those troubles away. The plot is the usual shoot'em'up nonsense - rogue satellite drifts into your space, you send back a ship to say "hello", and before you know it, it's all-out war, and of course it's down to you to save the day. What it boils down to is firing small groups of pixels at much larger groups of pixels, in the hope of a credible score. Shipping on four disks, XP8 installs nicely onto the hard disk, and after a few static intro screens to recap the plot, it's time to set the options and get blasting. Ten seconds after choosing "start", you'll more than likely be thinking something along the lines of "Blimey, this looks like Stardust". If you haven't heard of Stardust, you've obviously been hiding somewhere remote for the last couple of years. Stardust was basically the old Atari classic Asteroids, given the full Amiga treatment, with stunning ray-traced graphics and over-the-top presentation. XP8 doesn't look as good as Stardust, but in places it comes damn close. The first level is a bit tame, with kamikaze lines of aliens flooding down the screen to be dispatched with your peashooter of a laser. Destroying aliens reaps the reward of power-ups - power-up your weapon, increase your shields - the standard stuff. As you move through the levels, more weapons make themselves available. Level two hots things up a bit, adding ground-based enemies. By this time, the game's more like Banshee, with tall buildings to crash into. It's not always clear exactly what is and isn't to be avoided, but you learn quickly. By the fourth level, you daren't blink for fear of missing something that could spell death. Passcodes are provided at the end of each level, which helps ... but most of the levels are *very* big. And? That's about it. Looks smashing, though. Just about everything is ray-traced; nice shiny aliens get shot by shiny bullets, which causes them to explode in shiny explosions. The whole thing runs at 50 frames per second - resulting in a silky- smooth scroller, and with 5 large levels to fight through, a lot of work has gone into making this game look good. An unusual idea is the customise option - elements of the game can be made easier - or tougher - at your own discretion. Whether you'll want to use these options until you've completed the game "normally" is up to you... So it's the gameplay of Banshee with the graphics of Stardust. If you want an advert for just how good an Amiga game can look, buy this. If you loved Banshee or Stardust, buy this. If you love a good old-fashioned blast, buy this. In fact, unless you don't own a joystick and can't stand any kind of game when you have to stay awake, buy this. At only 20UKP, it's a bargain. (XP8 is currently AGA only. An ECS version was scheduled for the end of May - hopefully we'll have more news in the next issue.) Pros: The best-looking Amiga game for some time. Can be made more or less challenging with the customisable options. Cons: Not exactly a "deep" game, and so won't appeal to everyone.