Are you easily confused? do you have trouble remembering the difference between games? Everyone around here does, to the extent where we often find ourselves giving completely inaccurate opinions on games at social occasions, thus ruining any kudos we had before we opened our mouths. We've found that making up a little rhyme helps us to remember. (For example, "We don't really care much for Chaos Control; it's like having a steam shovel jammed up your hole.") But it's far from foolproof, especially if like Andrew Lloyd-Webber you have no head for rhymes.
This becomes all the more important when there are two games which are in the same genre and have distinctly similar names - like Metaltech: Earthsiege 2 and MechWarrior 2, the two big releases in the Mech game stakes, for example. Off the top of your head, can you remember which one has the great landscapes, robots that fall over to good effect when you shoot their legs and that extremely difficult career mode - and which has the large cityscapes with proper buildings and robots that still walk about quite happily when you blast their leg off? No? Then buy the back issues and find out, joik.
Are you ready to trundle?
Shattered Steel, the latest entrant in the Trundling About In Enormous Robots, Shooting The Shit Out Of Everything genre popular with so many insecure short-arses, will be a welcome addition, if only because it isn't called Mech Siege Warrior Too. Any imagination in game titling is to be welcomed - if only they'd applied the same innovation to the plot we'd be laughing. It's the usual alien worlds stuff. Wouldn't it be refreshing if you got to pilot your five-hundred ton megabastard robot around a shopping centre, using your vast array of weaponry to annihilate anyone with ginger hair, anyone under five feet six, and definitely anyone in an acrylic sweater. But it's nothing like that. Oh hum, here's the plot anyway...
It's 2132, and... please can I do the half-past nine joke again? (Certainly not - Ed.) Damn. Alright, it's 2132. Deep space exploration and colonisation (the futuristic equivalent of colonic irrigation) have become a reality. That's what it says here, anyway. But the universe has split into two distinct social sets: First there are the goodies who are only chugging about the place in order to collect interesting fossils for publication in tabloid newspapers back home and teach the meaning of'life' to sexy alien love goddesses. And then there are the baddies, whose only pursuit is to line their own pockets, trade shiny beads with gullible natives in return for entire planets, and get the aforementioned love goddesses 'with child'. If anyone, good or bad, wants to survive in these far-off places, they need to collect elements. Not the sort you get in two-bar electric fires, but the sort of elements you get under the ground and whose names you failed to commit to memory in chemistry lessons.
And you are?
You are a mercenary, hired by a large mining company to investigate the breakdown of communications protocols at a mining camp on Lanios 3 (future-talk for 'the phone's off the hook'). At first, this breakdown is thought to have been caused by another pesky raid by the baddie types with the shiny beads and no condoms. Instead, you discover a strange alien race which is intent on destroying all human installations and, while they're about it, all humans -especially short ones with ginger hair and acrylic jumpers (maybe we weren't far out with our wish-list earlier).
It turns out that the phone isn't just off the hook, but the whole phone booth is in pieces all over the road. This means that you are unable to phone back to base for a little help, and they can't get in touch with you either. Why? Well, while deep space exploration has become a reality, the development of a battery powerful enough to operate a mobile phone in deep space has not. In other words, you're on your own in there, buddy boy.
So, not exactly a brand new departure in the plot stakes. But it might just make you sit up and take notice when you see the in-game graphics - they look pretty damned top-notch, using Voxel technology to turn everything all bright and shiny and lovely looking -until you blow them up and spoil all those hours of elbow work and car polish (or whatever the hell Voxel is). There are more than 50 missions in the game, set on any one of three planets - which gives the artists all the excuses they need to let their imagination run riot on the background with... er, unusual shaped trees and plants that you could send to Esther Rantzen if she was still alive. (Is she dead then? - Ed.) Alright, it was wishful thinking.
The different locations mean that you also get to find out how more than 50 different alien species react to having your robotic fingers jammed up their noses and their legs blown off. There are 30 different weapons with which to wreak havoc, including heat-seeking missiles and 'smart' rockets, and more than 50 different enemy alien craft to try and demolish, including assault choppers with fully-working searchlights (and crikey, gripping hands too). And there's a specially developed artificial intelligence system so that the aliens will know, for example, that rather than waiting until you're in your gigantic robot thing and ready for them, it's better to sneak round behind you when you're reading the paper on the tube on the way to work and cosh you with a billiard ball in a sock.
Well, alright. Shattered Steel doesn't take it quite that far. But if you want to know more, you can do one of two things: be patient until we give it a full review next month, or have a crack at the demo mission on the cover disk.
If you feel you could easily live without it and are regreting even reading this much about a game you have no interest in whatsoever... er... sorry.
Processor: PC compatible, P-100
OS: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game Features:Single game mode