X-Out (Rainbow Arts) Review | Amstrad Computer User - Everygamegoing

Amstrad Computer User


X-Out
By Rainbow Arts
Amstrad CPC464

 
Published in Amstrad Computer User #65

X-Out

Aliens have taken over the oceans of the world and you have been chosen to blast them out with a selection of hardware.

They came, they saw and they coveted. Why anyone would wish to live in our sea amongst the pollution and dying fish is frankly beyond me, but they did. Most people would be more than happy to let them populate the seabed, dodging the drums of toxic waste. However, the government is none too keen on non taxpaying residents, so in you go with the latest military hardware to greet those aliens with your firepower. They must have known what their new neighbours were like because they came prepared.

You start with a fistful of credits in a shop containing a bewildering amount of hardware. At first, most of the hardware is beyond your purchasing power but as levels pass you become increasingly rich. The disadvantage to building up a near indestructible ship is its cost and the loss of investment caused by running into the underwater version of a brick wall. There are four types of ship to choose from, each increasingly expensive. The more costly the ship, the more hardware it can carry. For straight laser blasting power the choice is staggering. Three strengths of bullet come in three varieties: single, double and the awesome triple shot.

Having placed your chosen ship in the design grid and added some firepower you go for the extras. For explosive power you can't beat a good missile. They come in three strengths but for the connoisseur there is the bouncing bomb which gives a severe headache to all it encounters as it merrily bounces along the edges of the scenery. Now we reach the specialised hardware. Three hold-down-the-tire-button-and-watch-those-suckers-fry type weapons are available, ranging from the expanding force field to the ever popular ball of flame.

The last item in this column is the smart bomb. Unleash this weapon and a rotating ball meanders out into the centre of the screen before doing a Last Starfighter impression (if you don't know what I mean you rent the vid). For the player with other things on his mind there are drones. Basically a drone is a portable cannon which stays where placed and keeps on blasting until it is taken out or collected. To complement the drones there is a drone collector (they are quite expensive).

Next comes a couple of enhancers. The laser upgrade will significantly increase the blasting power of your satellites (more of which later) and the shield will give you precious seconds of invulnerability when activated. The final extra comes in eight varieties and proves to be an invaluable addition to your craft, the satellite. These helpful devices emit their own stream of death as well as guarding your ship from hostile fire.

Seven of the satellites follow a fixed path around your ship depending on the satellite bought, but the eighth seeks out the greatest threat and gives it a laser sandwich. With ships designed and credits spent you are ready for the first level. Come out blasting because these guys give you no quarter. You find yourself entering the watery depths amongst many a rock formation and wreck. Against this background the aliens swarm. At first it is just a few small attack craft and the odd gun emplacement but soon all that extra hardware you purchased at the shop begins to sweat. Not all bullets can be traced to their source if you blindly scroll horizontally across the screen. To get into these nooks and crannies you need to move vertically and the screen will move with you. At very few places can you display the entire vertical height of the scenery on the screen. If you spend too much time on the ocean floor, you may find yourself surprised by the large craft which deposit their cargo of bombs upon your head, but if you constantly skim the surface you will soon find the ocean floor bombardment gets too hot to handle.

Just when you start to get cocky, something large and nasty greets you. Riding upon the back of a giant metallic snake comes one of the aliens. The scrolling stops and you blast for your life. Taking out the snake is only half your problem as the rider gets very upset. After a few more attack waves the end-level monster appears. The mammoth beastie looks like something you find in the bottom drawer of your fridge. Its skin no longer exists and all you see is a collection of bone and muscle. Shoot off a few appendages and the head moves in for the kill.

After a quick visit to the shop to build a new super ship using your new found credits (converted from your score and the level bonus) you hit level two. This level follows a similar thread to level one with the exception of the rotating snakes. These are indestructible and only some clever manoeuvring will see you safely past. For the halfway monster you battle a giant sub which comes at you all guns blazing and at the end of the level you find a huge robot. While you blast at its digits, alien death squads bombard you from above.

Level three sees the advent of the worms. These tubular monstrosities follow in front of your craft leaving a destructible but deadly trail behind them. The only way to destroy a worm is to lead it into a solid object. At the end of this level you find the scorpion. This deadly beast fires lasers to protect its vulnerable body whilst bombarding you with fragments of its tail Killing this beast is not the end of the level as its grieving tail detaches and attacks.

Around level five the landscape changes as you penetrate the ocean depths. This crystalline landscape sees many a familiar creature in an unfamiliar guise. Once friendly sea horses wield laser cannons and the octopuses let rip with flame cannons. If you survive this bizarre menagerie to reach the final volcanic levels watch out for the debris hurled from the sea bed.

The final confrontation is between you and a giant machine. From this device, the aliens launch themselves into the fray. Blasting the aliens is not your main objective but let them past your lasers and they will be more than happy to hasten your demise. This is a great shoot-'em-up with many an alien encountered. For sheer blastability you will have to look hard and long to beat this game.

Adrian Pumphrey

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