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                              Review: Uropa²
                            By:  Ken Anderson 
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Austex Software - To be published soon by Vulcan Software of the UK.

1.5Mb RAM and hard drive required

Don't you just love it? There you go, giving all your colonists protection
from the baddies in the form of a crack squad of humans and clever robots.
Then the droids start to use their intellegence by taking over one of the
colonies, cutting off contact with Mother Earth and generally being pretty
damn unfriendly.  Time for you, as one of the few good robots left, to get
in there and sort them out.

The bulk of the action takes place in a forced perspective isometric
display.  As one of the droids, you must patrol the base, carry out certain
key tasks, rescue as many colonists as possible and quite probably beat up
a few rivals at the same time.  Obviously, it's not as easy as this - there
are many puzzles to be completed along the way, and the bad guys are not
afraid of fighting back.

In every room of the bases, there are objects to be searched - lockers,
beds, scientific labs and so on. Many of these contain important objects,
from weapon upgrades to access cards.  These can then be used in other
parts of the base to bring yourself closer to meeting your objective - to
complete the tasks set in that certain base and travel on to the next of
the 12 bases.

Some of the puzzles are just simple "find the key to open the door" rote
tasks. However, the later levels hold more involving tasks, and some of the
problems encounter require a good deal of thought. It does give a sense of
achievement to solve the problems, especially when you are rewarded with a
sizeable weapon upgrade or further insight into the plotline.

The travelling between bases is set in a seperate game environment, a
rather pleasing 3D lightsourced vector hovercraft simulation.  Anyone who
remembers Pete Cooke's classic 8-bit hits "Tau Ceti" and "Academy" will
feel instantly at home with this section, and you roam around the planet
surface, dodging enemy craft and navigating your way to the next port of
call. Fans of this section have the opportunity to try a null-modem link
with another Amiga for a bit of 2-player combat.

The isometric sections do tend to suffer from clutter - trying to flee from
an approaching killing droid only to have your exit blocked by two
dithering colonists is frustrating. It's even worse when you can't seem to
navigate yourself past an inanimate object such as a table or bed. Turning
your joystick through 45 degrees helps you find the diagnals required a bit
easier.

On the whole, Uropa² is a stunning work of gameplaying art, and will keep
you busy for many weeks, if not months. Too often, modern games sacrifice
atmosphere for technical excellence; Uropa² displays both without
compromise.  Some may be frustrated by the "fetch and carry" elements of
the isometric section, and it will not directly appear to the more rabid of
shoot'em'up fans.  However, if you like your arcade action spiked with a
little thought, I would urge you to download the shareware version from
your local Aminet mirror as soon as you can.

Pros:  Involving gameplay, with a strong atmosphere and sense of purpose.
Technically sound, and multitasks too.  Two game genres in one increase the
appeal.

Cons: Controls aren't as responsive as they could be. Some tasks become
repititious, and the puzzles aren't for the hard of thinking.

While recently shareware, Vulcan Software (http://www.vulcan.co.uk) has
picked up the game for commercial publication, due out soon.