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/// Usenet Review:  Hired Guns
    ---------------------------
    By David W. Lowrey
    (dwl10@juts.ccc.amdahl.com)


PRODUCT NAME

        Hired Guns


BRIEF DESCRIPTION

        An "adventure" game for 1-4 players, where each player controls one
or more of the computer characters.



AUTHOR/COMPANY INFORMATION

        Name:           DMA Design (distributed by Psygnosis)
        Address:        29 Saint Mary's Court
                        Brookline, MA 02146
                        USA


LIST PRICE

        I paid $44.95 (US) at a "full service" Amiga store.
        I don't know the list price.


SPECIAL HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS

        HARDWARE

                At least 1 Meg of memory.

                If you have a 2 meg Agnus chip, the program will use
                extra sound effects.

                It works on my 68020-based Amiga, so I would imagine
                that other processors are supported.

                Supports up to 4 floppy drives.

                A special parallel adapter can be bought, or made, that
                allows 2 additional joysticks to be used.

                The game also allows you to use a modified Sega "Joypad" in
                place of a joystick.

        SOFTWARE

                ?


COPY PROTECTION

        Look up a word in the manual. The disks are copyable, and the game
is hard disk installable.

        The "look up a word...." scheme isn't too bad as the game doesn't
always ask you!  I would rate the copy protection as acceptable.


MACHINE USED FOR TESTING

        Amiga 2500
        68020 processor board with 2 meg Fast RAM
        2091 SCSI controller with 2 meg Fast RAM
         (total of 5 meg memory, of which one meg is Chip RAM)
        AmigaDos 2.1

INSTALLATION

        The program either runs off of floppies, or off of your hard drive.
The hard disk version of the game does not take over the system. You can
pause the game and switch to the Workbench. The game returns to the
Workbench when you exit.  The floppy version takes over the system, and you
have to reboot when you are finished with the game.

        Floppys do not require any installation, other than the judicial
practice of copying the originals and playing from the copies.

        To install the game on a hard drive, drag the Install icon into the
drawer you wish to contain the HiredGuns directory.  Then double-click the
Install icon.  5 languages are supported.

        You have the choice of installing the complete game, including the
extra music, or just a minimal configuration.

        The disk comes on 5 floppies, and takes about 1.5 meg of hard drive
space.


REVIEW

        NOTE: I have had the game for 24 hours now, so this is really a
first impression.  If my opinion changes, or if I have the facts wrong, I
will send in an update.

        Hired Guns is somewhat like an RPG, or "adventure" game, where you
have a party of "adventurers", and you go on a quest of some sort, solving
puzzles and fighting bad guys along the way. You usually have a "window"
that shows what the party sees.

        Hired Guns is like that, plus a whole lot more.  Up to 4 players
control 4 computer characters at the same time.  The players can use up to
two mice, the keyboard, or joysticks to control the computer players. Each
input device can control one or more computer players. The program supports
a parallel port joystick adapter.  Other games, such as Gauntlet, use this
same device.

        When there are only one or two players, they have to use a mouse.
That means that for a two player game, you need two mice.  Three or 4 players
have the option to select the input device.

        Each computer character can also be told to "follow the leader", so
you can move up to 4 characters at once.  This "Auto Leader" mode will cause
the computer characters that have the mode enabled to follow the currently
moving character.

        Each computer character has its own view window, so each can be in a
different place at the same time.  If player 1 is standing in front of
player 2, then player 2 sees player 1 in front of him.

        You have your choice of 12 different computer characters.  You
cannot edit their "stats" nor add your own characters.  However, you CAN
edit the graphics for each character using any Amiga paint program.  Each
character has an ILBM IFF file containing the different views of that
character.  You can edit the pictures, perhaps replacing them with your own
picture, and use that in the game.

        The view windows are in "3D" style, so you get the illusion of
depth. The graphics are relatively detailed, but they do not blow you away.

        The purpose of the game is for the players to eradicate the area of
the various mutants that happen to be there.  You are provided various
weapons, and more are found that allow you to do this.

        You move your computer characters around the a landscape consisting
of grass, trees, multi-level buildings, tunnels, and rocks.  There are also
water channels, sometimes multi-leveled, that you can (or have) to wander
around in.  There are devices available (you hope) that will allow humans to
breathe, and keep robots sealed for a few minutes.

        There are stairs and elevators that move you up and down.  There are
big blocks that you push and pull around to allow you or another computer
character to get across a chasm or water channel.  There are force fields,
teleport fields, and doors that need to be removed, accessed, or opened.
Many of the puzzles require cooperation between computer characters to
complete.

        And, of course, there are the "Bad Guys."  There are many different
ones, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.  It is up to you to
figure out the best defense and the appropriate weapons that are necessary
to deal with each creature.

        Each character has an inventory of items, called a "store".  Items
can be picked up, dropped, and equipped, using each computer character's
store window.

        If a computer player has the appropriate device, a map of where he
or she has been is automatically kept, and is displayable.

        The game has several modes. There are "Training" missions, "Short
Campaign" games, and the "Full Campaign" game. The training missions start
out easy and get progressively harder.  The "short campaign" games can
usually be completed in one sitting.  When there are more that one "human"
playing the game, they can compete with each other to see which one
completes the level first.  The "Full Campaign" has about 20 different sites
you have to visit, each with different puzzles and varying degrees of
difficulty.  Fortunately, you can save your "Full Campaign" game between
playings on floppy, Hard Drive, or in RAM.


DOCUMENTATION

        The program comes with 4 different manuals.  However, I am not
impressed with the contents.  Much of the information you need is either
spread out between the manuals, or not there at all.

        The manuals are: "Amiga Instructions", which tells you how to
install and operate the game; "Game Manual", which describes the various
games, and some of the objects in the game; and "The Luyten System, a
Background" which describes the bad guys and weapons.  It also describes and
the local planetary system, which is for "color" only and not necessary
to play the game.  Finally, the "Countdown To Graveyard" manual gives a
history to what is happening, and also describes the Good Guys.

        All of the apostrophes (') are missing in the manuals!

        None of the manuals describe any sort of strategy that might be of
help.


LIKES AND DISLIKES

        I really like having 4 independent characters to control.  You have
each character's view in front of you at all times.

        I also like the balance between fighting and problem solving.  The
problems are just as important as the fighting.  They are also logical
problems, such as "how the heck can I get down 4 stories without killing
myself," as opposed to being randomly teleported somewhere for no apparent
reason.

        I like the hard drive installability, and the relatively
non-intrusive copy protection.

        I like the ability to play with 3 other players (which I haven't
tried, yet).


COMPARISON TO OTHER SIMILAR PRODUCTS

        There was a demo of this program released earlier this year.  The
play is basically the same, but items such as "group mode" work much better.


BUGS

        None found, yet.


CONCLUSIONS

        This is a much waited-for game, and it was well worth the wait!


COPYRIGHT NOTICE

        Copyright 1993 Starbound Enterprises.  All rights reserved.
                        Reprinted with permission.