Intensity (Firebird) Review | Zzap - Everygamegoing

Zzap


Intensity
By Firebird
Commodore 64

 
Published in Zzap #43

Intensity

The Terran Exploration Company operatives, whose job it is 'to seek out new life and new civilisations' have come across just what they were looking for. Unfortunately, the new life form they have discovered is a genus of hostile mutant which finds that the best way to while away the solar hours is to infest visiting space stations and beat up defenceless colonists.

Under such circumstances, the crew of the Canis Major space station have decided that evacuation is their only hope, and it's up to you to get them from the platforms where they work to any one of five escape shuttles at the far end of the station.

The colonists emerge from the Canis Major's airlocks, then run across the deck towards their rescue vehicle, a drone ship which is under the control of your surface skimmer. Picking up colonists is simply a matter of flying the surface skimmer from its launch pad to a clear site near an airlock and calling the drone. When the skimmer launch pad flashes, that platform's quota of colonists has been rescued, so landing the skimmer back on its pad moves you to one of three other decks further along the station.

Death stalks the decks in five mutant forms. Spores are the easiest aliens to dispense with, and until they can land, they are vulnerable to collision with the skimmer, the drone or each other. If a spore does manage to land, it mutates into a Stalker.

The Stalkers bounce up and down, vandalising the deck until they get bored and leave, or mutate. If it spots a colonist, a Stalker can capture him and mutate into a Nuclon, a malevolent fireball which moves slowly towards the drone, hoping to destroy it and all its occupants. More ambitious Stalkers cocoon themselves inside a Podule, until their transformation is complete and they burst out as a Tracker. These home in on you... Aaargh!

As you might suspect, progression through the decks reveals incresingly adept and deadly breeds of the above, but to help you keep up with the increased difficulty level, Intensity has a system for buying better rescue equipment.

Every time a colonist is saved, a large R (Resource Unit) is released from the skimmers launch pad; at the end of a level, accumulated Resource Units can be traded for skimmers and drones which are able to fly faster and over higher obstacles. These are produced on a production line which requires a longer period of time to build more advanced craft - so you'll just have to wait for those go-faster stripes, won't you?

ME

The graphics are in Braybrook's normal bas-relief style and the opening screens look as though you're about to be flooded in a wash of Alleykat-style confusing menus. However, once the shock of seeing a Graftgold game that isn't a shoot-'em-up has worn off, you start to think, "Well, what's happening here?"

The first couple of games don't give a lot of encouragement, but for some reason you find yourself drawn back to the computer for "just one more go". It's not as frenetic or exciting as previous Graftgold releases, but it's still quite playable and addictive.

One for Braybrook fans to look out for and for casual players to try for themselves and see if it grabs them.

PG

I thought the standard of Andrew Braybrook's games had gone slowly but surely down since Paradroid - and taking one cynical look at this game, I started rolling my eyeballs. It was lucky I stopped them before they rolled under the filing cabinet, because it turns out that Intensity isn't the mere exercise in polished programming I had guessed it would be.

It's a pretty easy mistake to make, as such intelligence has been programmed into the movements of the colonists that the game seems to finish the first screen by itself. Unfortunately, later levels proved that just as much intelligence had been programmed into the aliens, and they knew exactly how to work me up into a frenzy of activity, I can tell you ('ere, no, missus, quiet at the back, etc)!

If the action was a bit more mainstream (perhaps blasting as well as collide and collect) I think Intensity might have been widely hailed as another Braybrook classic. As it stands, I would only go as far as saying it's one of his better games.

KH

Cor, another Andrew Braybrook game, I thought (I have these moments of inspiration). OK, so I didn't think Morpheus was anywhere near as good as Uridium or Paradroid but everyone's allowed to slip a bit once in a while, aren't they?

Well, looks like Andy Braybrook has slipped again. The idea's original and the graphics look great but none of it really grabs you by the... er... well, whatever things normally grab you by.

As for the sound effects - they were very impressive in Paradroid, but you can have too much of a good thing - and I think by now we've had enough. If you enjoy repetitive games and aren't too bothered about having a large environment to explore (there isn't one) you could go worse than buy Intensity. You could do a bit better, too.

Verdict

Presentation 91%
Attract mode, and user-friendly options for one or two players with joysticks in either port, colour and monochrome modes and volume control. Disk version saves high score table.

Graphics 88%
Small but very nicely animated sprites. Familiar bas-relief decks.

Sound 70%
Tuneful music, but spot FX are very Paradroid.

Hookability 78%
Unusual playing style takes longer to get into than that in most games.

Lastability 86%
Sixteen levels, but just a little more variety would have given it even more long-term appeal.

Overall 75%
An excellent game, but doesn't have the broad appeal of Braybrook's previous works because it isn't an out-and-out blast.