After Shock is Interceptor's latest and confirms the firm's position at the top of the adventure tree. After the mythical Karn trilogy and the Forest at World's End, After Shock is a return to reality and the troubles of today.
So what's going on. You kick off in the streets of a city in a state of advanced demolition. A nuclear test has triggered a huge earthquake and a large part of the city has been either reduced to rubble or damaged beyond repair.
You also know that the nuclear power station on the edge of town is about to make like a mole and head for China. Unless you want to be part of the meltdown you'd better do something - and quick.
The first graphic in the is, to my mind, one of the best. It shows a modern office, with just what you'd expect to find in one. Yes, it's a PC (probably not an Amstrad though). On the wall is a map of the nuclear power plant, and out of the window you can survey the wreckage of downtown wherever-you-are.
Not every location has an associated graphic, but that hardly matters as the location descriptions are pretty full. They are also highly atmospheric. In fact, they're so good that the game would be excellent without the graphics - with them it's even better They're by Terry Greer whose adventure graphics are legendary.
First you have to escape from your office building. This isn't easy. Speaking as someone who has spent some time living on the fault-line in California, if you didn't already know from watching Superman and View to a Kill, there are certain things you are advised not to do. Well, you're going to have to do at least one of them, and yes, you can expect to get shafted.
There are at least two items you have to take from your office. One you must have if you hope to leave the building. The other, which doesn't have any wires attached, may save you from a nasty death later. It could also be the cause watch out.
How do I know this? Because Interceptor, wise in the ways of reviewers who only have limited time and even more limited grey matter to review adventures, have provided a hint sheet. Let's face it, without it I probably wouldn't have made it off the floor I started on. Even with it I got stuck halfway through!
So if I tell you this is no easy game to solve, you'd better believe me.
And, not content with filling the game with some pretty ferocious problems, the author David Banner put a time limit on it. Remember? Yup, that's right: the nuclear reactor. And you're then only trained fission engineer around who may be able to save the situation. Take too long, and wham - you're Chicken Kiev.
But Interceptor's game writers are at least fair - most of the time. If you read the descriptions closely enough, there's usually a clue which can help you to avoid any sticky ends. Sometimes, though, you face instant-death just by entering certain locations, unless you are carrying the wrong object or objects.
The parser - the code which interprets your input - is good, and can handle a wide selection of nouns and verbs. In certain places though, you do need to find just the right combination to solve a particular problem and sometimes, the necessary words are prettyy obscure. You can usually work out what's needed, though.
I do have one major complaint, though. This is an adventure game - and it doesn't understand the word Get! You are only allowed to Take.
An adventure game without Get is like the Mona Lisa without a smile. It's just not on.
Label: Interceptor Author: David Banner Price: £9.99 Joystick: various Memory: 48K/128K Reviewer: Gary Rook
Excellent adventuring for the dedicated, combining great graphics from a master of his art with challenging problems.