Megatraveller 2: Quest For The Ancients (Empire) Review | Amiga Power - Everygamegoing

Amiga Power

Megatraveller 2: Quest For The Ancients
By Empire
Amiga 500

Published in Amiga Power #16

Can Betty Boo lead Cliff, Jimmy, Liz and Phil to interstellar victory? Read on...

Megatraveller 2: Quest For The Ancients

Gah, typical! Five seconds into the adventure and my crack team of interstellar space mercenaries (Cliff Richard, Jimmy Greaves, Liz McColgan and Philip Schofield, under the astute leadership of Marine Captain Betty Boo) have had all their laser rifles and grenade launchers confiscated by an over-zealous customs office. We're left to face the baying hordes on the planet Rhylandor with only a bobbins body pistol to hand. Sigh.

Not that this really matters. There's none of that wandering-around-killing-everything-you-see-nonsence that has blighted computer role-playing for so long. This is a game that has more in common with Indiana Jones than Space Crusade.

The plot is suitably obtuse. Something to do with purple goo oozing out of some pipes and a couple of shadowy figures running off into the night.

Well, it's all about ancient sites really. You've got to travel round exploring them and collecting coynes (coins). This is the main scenario, but some of the smaller scenarios are more interesting. They mainly involve your party acting as either hit-people or a galactic courier service.

Before the game begins, you are given the option to create some characters. This is a detailed process, as you get to select skills and choices for your adventurer as they develop from the age of 18, whether in the navy, the army or a whole host of other businesses/forces/mobs. This means that the characters that eventually form your squad are all completely unique (not just a little bit unique), moulded and shaped by your own judgment.

A tedious graphic introduction leads you into the adventure. Your characters stumble around, following the leader following your mouse cursor. Group options are selected from the menus that pop up when you click on the relevant icon, and there are detailed character sheets you can pull up for options for the individual characters. A combination of the characters' skills, tactical judgment and having the cluebook open at the right page is the key here.

And now the big question: how does it compare to MegaTraveller 1? In the same way as most sequels, really. The graphics are a vast improvement, an incredibly varied and detailed exploitation of the Amiga's potential, rather than the 8-bit fare we got last time. The game zone is also much bigger - in this case there are a whopping 117 planets and 231 cities that can be visited. A lot of extra features have been included and the original features have been greatly developed.

All of these, taken individually, are probably 'Good Things'. As is so often the case, there is a 'Bad Thing' on the horizon, as a development team tries to capitalise on the success of the original by throwing everything including the kitchen sink into the sequel. The end result is often an over-ambitious, unfocused and confusing mess, full of extraneous elements. Sadly, this is true of MegaTraveller 2.

The first game allowed a great degree of tactical freedom, without losing the plot in the process. There was a sensibly-sized universe (28 planets), with plenty to do on each planet. Though players could spin off at their own tangents, the main mission always seemed within their grasp.

MegaTraveller 2 is a totally different state of affairs. The main scenario is so arcane, the sub-plots are spread across too large an area, and most of the cities hold nothing of interest other than a galactic Mrs Honeymoon ready to reveal which airline they believe to be behind the whole shebang.

It doesn't help that functions such as travelling to another planet city, or even simply speaking to someone in the street, require a mass of disk-swapping, with sometimes as many as six (!) exchanges of disk required to carry out a single action. (The message is clear: get a hard drive or lose your mind!)

MegaTraveller 1 was deep. MegaTraveller 2 is even deeper, it just hasn't got much water in it. Fans of the Traveller games world will love it of course, but for the average joe/joanna who doesn't hold the rolling of 20-sided dice in religious esteem (and let's face it, that means most of us) this is a game going nowhere. Slowly.

You put the disk in the drive, a few graphics flash up and your five characters appear outside the customs office in Rhylandor Startown. And that's it. It's down to you to go and hunt out a game somewhere in it all. Sadly the one I found bored me to tears.

The Bottom Line

Uppers: Technically a vast improvement on the first game, there's plenty to do and a massive game world for keen adventurers to get their teeth into. Few games have ever offered so much freedom of choice.

Downers: It's too big and too spread out. Moments of excitement and/or achievement are few and far between. Moving around the game zone is very laborious, and the layperson is unlikely to stick with this for long.

There's a lot of 'game' in here somewhere. The problem is that you're the one who's got to find it. Five quid says that after a few hours of identical cities and irritating disk-swapping, you'll have lost interest (and possibly also the will to live!).

Adam Peters

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