Elite (Firebird) Review | Computer Gamer - Everygamegoing

Computer Gamer

By Firebird
Amstrad CPC464

Published in Computer Gamer #13


What can you say about Elite? If you haven't seen or played it you will have read a review or a feature on it. If this is the first time that you have read about it, then I must congratulate our distributors on delivering your copy to you in that little cave deep in the Amazon jungle.

After the incredible build-up and exposure that the game has received, I think it will suffice to describe the differences between the Amstrad and the original BBC version.

The obvious difference is in the screen display - it's in colour. The top part of the screen has a colour depending on which star system that you are in, so the sum in one colour, the (solid) planet is another colour, and all other objects are a third colour. This is very good, and makes fairly effective use of the extra colours available over the original BBC graphics screen, whilst not overly complicating the game at the expense of speed and features that real full colour would have done.

As briefly mentioned earlier, the planets are solid, so, instead of being able to see through the planet, in this case it is a solid disc. This is a nice touch and just adds that certain something.

The solid colour system is also extended to the long area map, where your range is shown by a grey disc, centred around your current location. Explosions too, are solid, in the same vein as the Spectrum game. In the Commodore and BBC versions, when a ship is shot at, it will fragment and bits will remain on the screen until they fizzle out.

Due to speed limitations on the Spectrum, a red disc was drawn over the enemy ship, to remove it from the screen. This has been used on the Amstrad, but extended slightly into a more 'explosionish' explosion with slightly glowing edges which looks a lot more credible that the Spectrum dodge.

The graphics owe more to the BBC (which has almost identical graphics ability) than to the Spectrum version. This means that they are much smoother than the Spectrum, and only a bit slower than the Commodore 64 version. But the important thing, the smoothness of movement, has been preserved. So there is none of the jerkiness of the Spectrum version.

Sound has been altered from the original game. The Blue Danube plays constantly through the game, though this can be turned off. The Commodore game could only do this when the docking computers were switched on. One problem arises when you are targeting missiles, the music is comparatively loud compared to the 'missile locked on' beep and this can sometimes be missed, though the music does automatically cut out if too much noise is happening.

Whether the extended bit of the previous two versions have been preserved (cloaking device, energy boosters, extra missions) is not known, these only usually appear after a few weeks' play.

Overall, this is as good as the Commodore or BBC versions of the game. Some other magazines have called it "possibly the best version yet" when the reviewing the unfinished (and quite different) early versions of the game. You couldn't say that it is the best because they are so different, but it is certainly the most visually attractive, and is certainly no worse than any other version.