|Review - Uropa2|
When I first reviewed Uropa2 almost a year ago, it was a just another shareware title on Aminet. However, I raved about it, and everyone else raved about it too. Now Vulcan have signed up Austex and taken on Uropa2 as the second title in their "Megaseries", and it's better than ever.
The game is a slightly odd combination of isometric arcade-adventure and 3D vector shoot'em'up. Cast as a floating dustbin (apparently a robot, but I'm not qualified in these things), ten separate missions are waiting to be completed; complicated missions at that, usually involving at least three separate tasks. These tasks are set in space bases, the interiors of which are presented in the isometric (corner-on) graphics, whilst travelling between bases is carried out the vector graphic representation.
When inside, you roam about alongside colonists and other robots, searching the surroundings for trivia and objects vital to your mission. Engaging in fights with other robots offers the reward of data if you win, which can then be sold on. Computers are available to be accessed, extra weapons can be bought and there's a lot to be seen and done. Colonists can be bossed around by shouting orders at them; luckily, one of the options is a request that they "get out of here!", as they tend to get in your way when you're being chased by a mental rival dustbin. Despite all this aggression, the pace inside the bases is sedate, with no real test of reflexes or co-ordination, other than the slightly stodgy controls.
Once outside, you're thrown into arcade mode, which brings the game into real arcade mode. Roaming around the surface, shooting things and getting lost isn't nearly as taxing on the grey matter as the interior scenes, but it's much more fun, if a tad limited. There's also the now-obligatory two-player linkup option for private battles.
Refreshingly these days, the space and freedom that CD-ROM brings has been used to brilliant and productive effect. All of the computer screens are accompanied by a sample voice narrating the text for you (the computer voice is Vulcan Software's Lisa Tunnah). Most of the information and communication that can be read is also available in aural format; Vulcan's Paul Carrington doing a fine job in this capacity, injecting character and often humour into the text.
There's a couple of niggles which could do with being tidied up: the default location for saved games is on the CD, and you cannot load a saved game from the main game menu - a new game must be started and then the saved game reloaded. There's been more than one occasion where the left mouse button recognition has stopped working.
Uropa2 is a brave mix of genres; the two different paces of gameplay carry the risk of clashing with each other and alienate (sic) a player who enjoys one type of game but not the other. However, Uropa2 carries it off brilliantly. The plot development is intriguing, the action is paced finely, and the atmosphere that the use of speech creates is enveloping. Unless you really hate isometric or vector games, I'd recommend this superb blend of both, and set aside some spare time to be entranced.
Pros: Lovely depth of play and character. The graphics and sound inject superb atmosphere (the latter especially so). Lots to do and see; very good value for money.
Cons: Could be a bit cerebral for some, and many will become hopelessly stuck very quickly. Controls take some getting used to, and there's the odd glitch that could do with being patched.
Uropa2 is priced at 29.99UKP, and can be ordered from:
Weird Science Ltd.
Q House, Troon Way Business Centre