ST Format


Warhead

Author: Maff Evans
Publisher: Activision
Machine: Atari ST

 
Published in ST Format #11

Warhead

Alien life forms emerge from the far off star of Sirius and fly into Earth's atmosphere without warning to devastate our beautiful planet. They use ten million tons of nuclear weapons and wipe out three billion people.

Twelve years pass and Earth's defence fleet is ready to repel the invaders if they come again. Deep space probes have picked up drifting wrecks containing dead aliens. On examination, the aliens turn out to be an intelligent insect species working as a "collective mind". This data has allowed the military force Fist of Earth to design the ultimate weapon, the FOE 57 fighter, to destroy them.

Based at Solbase, a large military station, the FOE 57 is still at an experimental stage of development. You are the first to pilot the ship and confront the Sirian armada. The ship's navigation and weapons systems are state-of-the-art technology, consisting of five missile systems, nine autopilots, digital HUD systems, real-time computer tracking and navigation and intersellar "Quad-Jumps" drives which allow instant "flight" to distant stars.

Warhead

The mission starts with familiarisation exercises, taking the craft out for test jumps into quad-space, firing the new weapons at dummy targets and practising docking techniques. Once all these tasks have been completed, it's time to put the craft through its paces in real combat situations.

Solbase monitors messages throughout the surrounding galaxies and passes mission orders to the FOE 57 when it is needed. Occasionally the missions are just reconnaissance flights to patrol tricky areas of space, but there are more than a few distress calls from cargo-ships that have come under attack from marauding Sirian forces. Can they be stopped this time?

Effects

If Warhead's appearance were any more polished, the surface shine would blind you. The Heads-Up Displays are very effective, giving the impression of having masses of military hardware at your disposal that's just begging to be used. The 3D visuals use a strange fish-eye lens technique, making it seem as though cameras have been used instead of the slightly dubious window view. The navigation screens are superbly implemented with accurate pitch, yaw and zoon modes used while keeping the planets in proper relation to each other. The presentation is far superior to that normally seen in shoot-'em-ups.

Warhead

The soundtrack uses surreal sampled sounds to create an incredibly atmospheric theme. Unfortunately, the sound in the rest of the game isn't so hot. The computers ping, the alarms whine and the weapons fizz. Not really super science fiction stuff.

Verdict

Warhead is an atmospheric and immensely playable space adventure. The plot and feel of the game are very futuristic, perfectly setting the tone for the missions ahead. The battle scenes are superb, packed with action and calling on FOE pilots to stretch their spacehero reflexes to the limit.

Some thought is needed to carry out the science missions successfully, so it's not just blast-blast-blast all the way through. If you liked Starglider 2 and Elite, but have begun to find them too limiting, then you'll love Warhead's diverse missions. It's good to see a game at last worthy enough to take over their crown.

Maff Evans

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