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                              REVIEW: NETREK
                           By:  Robert Niles .
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RED ALERT, RED ALERT!!

The klaxons sound off, you notice another Romulan approaching, just as you
thought you were through.  You're shields are at 38% and your damage
already extensive.

"Comms!!"

"Yes Captain!"

"Send out a distress call!"

"Yes Captain."

Your palms are sweating as you try to maneuver away from the approaching
vessel.

Suddenly the ship rocks, you're thrown to the side, a console to the rear
explodes.

"Fire phasers!!"

Steady streams of light reach out toward the Romulan ship. To no avail.

"Incoming torpedos!"

"Evasive maneuvers!"

The first misses, the second and third strike hard, threatening to tear
apart every scrap of metal holding the ship together.

"Sir, we've lost shields aft."

"Sir, friendly vessel approaching."

"Get us out of here. Head towards the Federation ship."

Phasers streak across the ship, the explosion deafening ..blinding.
Another hit and ....

Well, maybe NETREK isn't as glamorous as this, but it does get the
adrenaline rushing through your veins, and you palms sweat as you find out
that you are going to have to buy a new mouse because you just pounded the
left mouse button to death.

What is Netrek?

It's a game playable on the Internet, and it's available for the Amiga. 
You have four races at the start, The Federation, the Romulans, the
Klingons and the Orions.  When the game first starts, you can choose
whomever you want to be, but then it gets narrowed down to two with at the
most, eight people on each team.  The goal is to take over the enemy
planets while destroying the enemy, without getting destroyed yourself.

You have a choice of the type of ship you use, everything from a battleship
to the lowly scout.  Each with it's pros and cons.  Each ship has torpedos
and phasers, and the ability to cloak.  To get a more powerful weapon, you
have to kill so many enemies.

When you first start you maneuver around trying to either kill the opposing
players or by bombing planets.  Doing either of these is a must in order to
get the ability to carry armies to place them on enemy planets...which is
the only way to take one over.

Hence you are forced to battle.

The documentation for the AmiTCP (AS225) version is sparse.  Alot of what I
learned was by trial and error.  One thing you need is a fast modem.  At
least a 14.4, but 28.8 is preferable and a TCP connection to the Internet.

You have two maps.  A "local" one, which shows the area in which you are
in, and a Galaxy map, which gives you an overall view of where the planets
and the other players are.

I won't go into documenting the game, but here's a few things that
newcomers should know.

To play against other you have to connect to a server.  At the end of the
article I've named two servers.  To connect you type:

netrek -h <server address>

When you enter, enter as 'guest'.  When doing this you will get a chance to
get a feel for the game, which can be difficult at first.  Even a little
fustrating when you are learning the keys and are getting used to
manuvering and firing with the mouse.  Be prepared, you will get killed
alot until you get used to things, even picked on a bit, as the enemy needs
kills to do other things, and you being a easy target, gives them a
wonderful chance to excell.  Later you can pick a nickname, and password. 
In doing so, stats are kept on that nick, kill ratios, ranking, etc.

After you enter the game hit '+'.  This brings up a window in which you
have the chance to change the "transmission" of stats using either the TCP
protocol or UPD.  Change this to UPD, this make an unbelievable difference
in getting smooth updates, which makes game play considerably better.

The left mouse button fire photons in the direction of the pointer, the
right will move your ship in the direction of the pointer.  Selecting 1-9
changes the speed in which you are moving.  One being the slowest, nine the
fastest.  Note: The faster you go, the longer it takes to make a turn.

To orbit a planet (for repairs, fuel, or bombing) place your mouse on the
planet and hit 'l' ...this will lock you onto the planet, and automatically
set you in orbit.

Hit 'h' for help.  This brings up a window with a listing of all the
commands and a brief description of each command.  Which there are alot to
keep track of. 

I hope this will bring you about to try Netrek, for it's a wonderful way to
take your fustration out on others across the world ...and the Universe.

See you in space :)

Robert Niles
Netrek nick: tsunami
email: rniles@wolfe.net

Netrek can be found on Aminet under game/role/Netrek-client.lha
Author: Randall Jesup

There is also a version for DNet.

Netrek Information on the Web:
http://www.cs.cmu.edu/afs/cs.cmu.edu/user/jch/netrek/README.html

Netrek sites in which you can use AmiTCP Netrek:
(This is just a couple, there are many more in North America and Europe.)

netrek.cs.mcgill.ca
bigbang.astro.indiana.edu