When we say that this game is a sort of Battlezone don't react with shock, be sick and turn the page. No! This is a really superb, fast shoot-em-up which has a Battlezone-type playing area. Everyone must know of the much copied arcade game - the vector tank game which took all day to play because it was so slow; the one where the battle was fought over an infinitely large playing area littered with obstacles and where you tackled the tanks one at a time and as time progresses the tanks get faster, more intelligent etc - you do remember it?
Okay this game has a similar sort of scenario, with an infinite playing area and obstacles littered over the plain. These obstacles can be used to your advantage and you can use them to hide behind or from which to ricochet bullets. The main difference is in its speed and in the graphics. Instead of the original vector graphics everything is filled in and the program moves about 100 times faster.
There are no tanks present in Encounter, instead flying saucers warp in and move about. There are also guided missiles which home in at horrendous rates and, unless you're moving backwards rapidly, find their target swiftly and detonate. On level one most of the saucers just move about and are cannon fodder, on higher levels they start to shoot back, not just little bullets but great big spheres that fill the entire screen! Occasionally you'll get a bleeper - saucers that trundle about harmlessly until they self destruct into a huge wall of spheres (very difficult to dodge).
Enemies can be seen on the radar at the bottom of the screen, which makes it easier to find a tank if it's out of sight or behind you. There are also other readouts telling you whether a tank is harmless or whether it's going to shoot or not.
To finish a level you must shoot a varying, specified amount of enemies. When all are destroyed a black, square warp gate will emerge. Enter this quickly (or else it disappears) and you begin your journey to the next level. To get to the next level safely, dodge all the spheres as you travel through them. The only trouble is that the spheres are massive and you feel like you're moving at about 1,000,000 mph!!!
As you progress through levels, the saucers get faster, more intelligent and fire like crazy. Also travelling from level to level gets faster and more hazardous.
There are no lives but you do have shields. Every time you are hit you lose a shield, but you do get extra ones for entering a higher level. If you die during transportation then you'll lose a shield and go back to the previous level and have to shoot another number of tanks before being allowed to advance again. As levels increase so does scoring potential, so the aim of getting to higher levels is even greater.
If you can imagine a solid Battlezone played at a really fast speed with a rapid firing tank, then you're close to visualising this game. The 3D graphics are amazingly fast, especially on higher levels where you can really zoom about the screen as you're chasing the UFOs. The feeling as you travel between levels through the warp-gates is great, one of total panic and exhilaration! Encounter is a superb game and one I know the Zzap! team go back to time after time. If you haven't got it then go out and buy it... it's ace.
I remember when I first got this game from a shop in Milton Keynes -- I was awestruck. The speed of the graphics and the gameplay was and indeed, is, unbelievable. I couldn't understand something so good could go unnoticed - but it did. Hardly a review or a comment in the press anywhere. A classic shoot-em-up that certainly hasn't aged much since its release a year or so ago.
Encounter is a real classic. The sheer speed of everything makes it so difficult and rewarding to play. Travelling from level to level must be one of the most nerve-rending sequences of all time. I usually find myself joggling about in my seat and going 'aaagh' and 'ooooo' as the spheres just skim by the craft. The game itself sounds very boring but once you start to play it's extremely difficult not to get totally involved with it. I love this game and ever since I saw it on my Atari it has been one of the games I have gone back to many times. It never became a classic; it was from the word go.
Three options, from novice to expert.
Megaspeedy graphics that'll make you gasp.
Bip! Bip! Boom!
When you see the speed, you want to play.
Each level takes a lot of beating.
Value For Money 91%
Below average price for an above average game.
Still a brilliant shoot-em-up.