Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Galactic Empire: Somewhere Out in Space

Previously, I played the adventure/shooter hybrid Inca. It wasn't a very good space shooter. It was basically a nice-looking version of the real early space sims, with some rail shooting sections. You know, the stuff I specifically wrote my rules around NOT playing. It was made by the late great Coktel Vision. If you've ever heard of Coktel Vision, you probably think of their adventure games. The Goblins series is still sold and once Sierra bought them out they mostly made adventure games. But before they did that, they had a lot of action games. Inca, the later, but here previous game, combined their adventure and action aspects together. Galactic Empire is about two games before that. There are some before, but this seems like a good place to get a general idea of their capabilities, since I've already cheated, so to speak.
The game starts off with a world getting destroyed by someone. A body shows up in the foreground whenever a blaster goes off. It shows that kind of gore that only Sci-Fi can show, the weirdly clean skeleton in clothing/armor. Not even fantasy stuff compares.
Then, a figure goes across the wasteland. Some kind of other vessel. Its getting shot at. Then I get the title. I soak in the music for a few moments, as the credits scroll. Its...uh...okay. Well, Coktel Vision was never known for great music.
The intro text crawl, on this tiny screen for some reason. What, wanted to do a Star Wars scroll, but couldn't do that without ballooning to two floppies? The gist is, during a civil war in the Galactic empire, at a border world Voltar has declared himself ruler and is hunting the faithful of the Empire. SERSEC, who I imagine are some kind of special force of the Empire, has sent me as an investigator. To find out the reasons for this atrocious war. To understand the folly that has overcome the local population...
I'm hyped, now if I can just remember what the name of the antagonist was. It goes on to tell me who the faithful are, and what my cover mission is. I'm a journalist who's code name is...TED FOST! No idea if the exclaimation mark is part of the code name or not. It is the future, after all. They keep putting it that exact way. Who's to say people in the future don't have stupid last names. Can't keep hyphenating like some people do now forever.
I keep forgetting how slow it is loading these Amiga games. When the game loads I am presented with this...interesting interface and visual look. This isn't going to be confusing or anything. Its got very bad mouse movement and non-existent joystick movement. One day, sweet prince, you will ride the skies to victory. I seem to be in a hovercar, not a spaceship, without any weapons. I'm starting to suspect this isn't a game I want to be playing, but because its Coktel Vision, I'll do it anyway. I approach a citizen and contact them through careful manipulation of the interface.
Insert your own joke about journalists, here
 I...what? Five options, based on mood? Interesting. If it wasn't so slow to use and sometimes cut off, I would say this is the perfect dialog system for...well, anything. A few answers come in weird and it feels awkward to use, but, by golly, this is one nice dialog system. I discover from him that foreigners are banned and so is talking to them.
After talking to him, I start wandering around. The visual range is two or three hovercar lengths. Objects jarringly come into focus. I wander through some kind of terminal, and then as I try to go...well, somewhere, the game tells me I need to go through customs. Conversation with a soldier proves useless.
In my confused wanderings, I bump into a few objects, completely fail to understand wherever the hell I am, and generally fail at playing the game. I wander into a prohibited area, and then promptly get shot. Couple of things I noticed at this point. The first is that dying is really lame and getting shot doesn't offer much feedback beyond sound. The second is that the gameover screen really, really, comes off as confusing. I pressed basically every button and nothing happened. I waited, and nothing happened. Fortunately, I save in better ways now.
Fiddling around with the options reveals that there's the option to have a slightly longer field of view. Makes it slower, but that feels like a good compromise in order to not have the game stink. There's also a help option that helped me out a great deal. It only tells you what a button is, but that's still a lot of help with no manual.
Seen here at the end of the conversation
Moving around now, I manage to open a building, something I'm authorized to do, and find a customs officer. This ends badly, as he calls me a bum and starts shooting at me. So, I run away, then go to the next building, thinking its another customs building. Its not, as I approach, I am warned that this is another prohibited area.
Inside, I find...something, and a laser. A weapon! Muahaha! I equip it, a soldier comes by. I shall take him out...I press every button. Nothing happens. I check to make sure I have it equipped. Nothing happens. I talk to the soldier, get basically nothing, try to shoot him again. Nothing happens. I am pressing every button on my keyboard and nothing is happening. That's...that's certainly something. This is as good a time as any to stop. I don't see this part getting any better. I gotta figure a few things out, the least of it all, customs.

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