Saturday, April 18, 2020

Midwinter: Nuclear Winter

I've known about Midwinter for most of my life. It was advertised in an order form for some other Microprose game my parents kept, but I didn't find it on my first pass through the abandonware websites so long ago. Second pass, it didn't work for me, don't remember exactly, but it was some weird issue. Here we are, third time. Now, Midwinter isn't completely a FPS, at least, I think it isn't. But Midwinter 2 supposedly is and I'd like to get this out of the way before playing the sequel. Midwinter is a game about a group of people surviving a nuclear holocaust. Which was actually a semi-common game genre at the tail end of the Soviet era. There's also weird strategy/RPG/shooter hybrid Twilight 2000, which had garbage shooting mechanics, so consider that a quick little review of that. But there's also a few others I don't remember the names of.
The menu starts up like some kind of action game, rather than a grand strategy game from the '90s. Fortunately, this game takes a cue from other Microprose games by offering practice modes for each action mode. Which consists of a skiing game, a hang-gliding game, and a snowbuggy game. Not really sure that's what the last one is, but the manual calls it that, so I will too.
Each of these oddly, functions mostly the same, only your controls and attack are changed. Move around, take down other moving objects. If the game is really this simple, I should be in for a fun time. Its skiing/hang-gliding/snowmobiling in an early 3D environment and you shoot things. They're all as you expect them to be. Accuracy in the snowbuggy is bad, hang-gliding is even worse and skiing requires you to stop and press a button to use it. What I learned from my use of the practice mode is that I really want a game where I can ski everywhere.
The strategic menu is a bit weird. Obviously there's our hero, Captain Stark of the FVPF. Its not entirely clear straight away how I'll get other characters. There's a map, which shows other people, but I actually have to move all the way over there in order to interact with them. There are some stats I assume will be useful later and beyond that there's nothing here yet beyond hitting one of Stark's movement buttons, which are at this point sniping and skiing, the same thing.
A helpful screen telling me how screwed over I am at this point in time. Which is to say a lot. The heatmines are places they mine heat, I guess.
When I'm actually, seriously skiing in-game it becomes a bit of a problem. While the practice mode did indeed have a lot more in terms of enemy vehicles attacking me, they didn't actually shoot at me, they just drove around menacingly. Now that there's the element of actually getting hit the game is quite difficult to play. Got to shoot down a plane with a semi-automatic and simulated breathing. While being a sitting duck. Fortunately, I have to have a lot of damage done in order to get killed. Like, a lot. Getting shot once or even running out of heat isn't enough to kill the player.
Moving around on skis is a very stupid move on my part. It takes about half an hour of real time, two hours of in-game, to get to a town just slightly east of the starting area. I guess that's what happens when your speed up hills is 7 mph at best. At this town I get a hot meal, because those two hours were a really long time, man, and a snowbuggy. Which I quickly crash and Stark is rescued. I think its time to start over.
Oh, what fortune! Now I have to wander through an area with actual decent transport even further away! At least a recruitable character isn't that far away. It takes some careful maneuvering to dodge some, but not all of the fire directed at my character, but I reach it. I've done nothing in terms of damage, but I've reached it.
Another person to move around with...Well, he'll be moving solo, as will Captain Stark. Which means for every two in-game hours, I'll have to spend twice as long moving my characters around. Yeah, I think I need to take a break here. You know, maybe it wasn't for the best to alternate Galactic Empire with this...

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