Driller


by Major Developments: Chris Andrew [2], Ian Andrew, Stephen Northcott, Paul Gregory
Incentive Software Ltd
1987
Crash Issue 47, December 1987   (1987-11-26)   page(s) 24,25

Mitral is a distant moon, once mined by exiled criminals. The mining has caused a build-up of gas beneath the moon's surface, and the gas must be drawn off to prevent Mitral exploding with disastrous consequences for its mother planet. In Driller you explore the deserted moon, finding gas pockets and placing drilling rigs in each of 18 sectors - using the solid-3-D, all-round-view system Freescape, which is used for the first time in Driller and is being promoted as 'the new dimension'.

The topography of Mitral is seen through a large window with controls beneath it. The Freescape system can be likened to a large transparent bubble with the player pinned at the centre. This 'bubble' can rotate in all directions, allowing you to look out and examine objects at any angle, even from behind and below. In Driller think of the excavation probe you drive as the bubble.

14 months' work by Incentive's in-house design team has produced an environment of over 20,000 billion possible window views (though many of these are virtually identical, the result of only a small shift in the angle of view). Information is priority-sorted, so one object can obscure another in true 3-D perspective.

Your excavation probe has controllable speed and turn angle (that means you can set how far each move will take you, whether it's a backward/forward step or a left or right turn), The main body of the probe can be tilted left or right, elevated or lowered to gain more visual information.

Mitral is made up of large open squares surrounded by walls, block buildings, steps, trenches and acid rivers. It is deserted. Laser beacons fire on you when they detect you; your probe's defensive shield gives some protection, but it's diminished by repeated hits.

To survive the probe can retreat out of range, get behind the beacon, or fire upon it with your own targetable lasers. Some beacons can be neutralised by severing their power supplies.

Orbital scanners also fire at you, appearing with an audible warning - but there's little that can be done other than evade their attack.

For more mobile exploration the probe can dock with a reconnaissance jet, if it can be found. To be allowed into the. hanger which houses this vehicle, you have to enter a building and there solve a puzzle (other puzzles in Driller when solved allow the use of a teleporter or provide other options). The jet is activated by docking the probe into its underside.

In the jet, as in the probe, you can look all round, and have even more versatile movement: the jet can go up and down and fly above all but the tallest of Mitral's constructions. The craft can also land at will, and hover. But though its onboard lasers afford it some protection, the jet's limited shield strength makes it vulnerable to attack.

Throughout Driller the controls beneath the main view screen give your probe's present position in x- and y-coordinates, as well as altitude if you're in the jet. Using these coordinates you can pinpoint a drilling position and go back to it game after game; they also help in mapping the huge area of Mitral, and a 3-D blank cardboard model comes with the game to help mappers.

Plan and side-view screens give further navigational support.

Laser firing, craft movement and shield strength all depend on an energy supply, which can be restored by firing on two types of rubicon crystal found all over Mitral.

But the object throughout is drilling. When a potential gas pocket is located, a drilling rig can be teleported down to Mitral's surface and positioned. (You can't drill from the jet, though.)

Once the rig has penetrated the gas pocket, a read-out indicates how much of the gas has been released; if that's more than 50%, the sector is safe. Points are awarded for successful gas extractions, and you can call up information on the total amount of gas tapped and sectors made safe.

Even if a drill is placed inaccurately, it can be teleported away again, though this eats heavily into the probe's energy reserves.

Once a sector has been made safe the next can be reached by travelling through doorways in walls, blasting obstructions, or using a teleport.

And all the time, as you explore Driller's universe of screens, time is running out for Mitral - an approaching meteor threatens the volatile gas-filled moon. You have just four hours and eight seconds (don't ask us why) to complete Driller.

A 32-page booklet explaining Driller and Freescape comes with the game.

COMMENTS
Joysticks: Cursor, Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: a series of simple, monochromatic, static pictures - with realistic 3-D and a 'looking around' effect that comes closer to being there than any more detailed screens
Sound: spot effects


'It's probably getting a bit boring, all this praise, but here goes: Driller is one of the best Spectrum games ever. The graphics are amazing; for once the claims made by the publisher are surpassed, and Freescape really IS the new dimension! After a couple of hours you don't notice the jerkiness of the graphics, either. And Incentive's Major Developments team hasn't relied on the graphics - Driller is a compulsive game. Once you've learned the basic, read the (extensive!) literature, and sorted out the first few drilling rigs, Driller opens up and you really can't put it down. Just trying to position a rig accurately is a game in itself, and Driller offers so much it's a must for any Spectrum-owner.'
MIKE ... 97%

'There's just so much manoeuvrability and playability packed into Driller you can find something different every time you play. And it's an amazing achievement, considering that whenever you move all the graphics have to be recalculated and filled in again. Once you're in the get the game turns into an equally brilliant flight simulation as you zip over walls and into complexes. The elaborate control system can be a bit of a nuisance at times - once I ended up upside down and the wrong way round in the middle of a shed somewhere and had to abort the game! But there's nothing to fault in Driller. It's the game of the year.'
NICK ... 98%

'Freescape is the new dimension' - you'd better believe it. If you miss out on this you'll suffer. Judging from Driller, Freescape is going to have more success on the Spectrum than Ultimate's Filmation (the isometric 3-D technique first used in Knight Lore in 1984) could ever have had. And Driller is more than just a demo of a new technique (though it would be a brilliant one); it creates the strongest, most addictive atmosphere you can imagine. Driller: written now, but conceived for the future.'
PAUL ... 97%

Presentation: 93%
Graphics: 98%
Playability: 96%
Addictive Qualities: 97%
Overall: 97%

Summary: General Rating: With a stunning use of 3D graphics, very challenging gameplay and the fascination of exploring a Freescape world, Driller is one of the best games CRASH has seen.

Award: Crash Smash

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Crash Issue 87, April 1991   (1991-03-21)   page(s) 50

The first game to use the Freescape walk-through environment graphics system. Intruiging blend of arcade adventure and puzzle gameplay. Not a lot of action but very different and enjoyable.


Overall: 86%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 25, January 1988   page(s) 96

Isn't this a tune by Michael Jackson? But seriously folks, Driller is actually the first release from Incentive Software based on its Freescape™ system. Freescape™, and yes it IS trademarked, is a new concept in 3D games, where every object in the game can be viewed from any direction. The effect of the graphics is quite stunning, and surprisingly playable in spite of a slight delay between 'screens', as the picture updates itself for a change of view.

The gameplay is actually a sort of arcade adventure, although there are a couple of other levels you can play it on. You are on the mining moon of Mitral, a small meteorite-pitted satellite of the planet Evath. Over the surface of the moon 18 drilling platforms have been raised which join together to form a polyhedral surface. On each surface, buildings have been erected, hangers for the various scout ships and excavators, vehicles used by the miners, and sheds for storing the Rubicon energy crystals. The moon has been evacuated, due to a build-up of gas under the surface, and you have been charged with the task of releasing it. You do this by roaming around the surface, and signalling for drilling rigs to be teleported down to your current position. Then the amount of gas you've released is then shown as a percentage, and your score relative to your performance.

There's a lot in Driller, and the most fun you get out of it is just exploring around the Freescaped™ environment, peeking under, over and around things that present themselves, manipulating switches by firing at them, activating lifts, docking with other vehicles, and seeking out and using Rubicon crystals to replenish your energy. You can just play it as an arcade game, going around shooting things and picking up points, but the best way to enjoy Driller is on all levels at once, as a shoot'em up, as an adventure and as a strategy game.

The graphics are really brilliantly rendered, and the buildings and walls all work in perspective from wherever you view them. The two vehicles you get to drive, the excavator and skimmer, are quite fast considering how much the computer is doing between screens, and the problems you have to solve are quite hard unless you do lots of experimentation.

The game took a year to build, and it shows in the quality of the workmanship and the gameplay. I can tell that people are going to be sending in tips for this for months to come. Superb!


Graphics: 9/10
Playability: 9/10
Value For Money: 8/10
Addictiveness: 9/10
Overall: 9/10

Summary: One of the most original 3D games of the year. Beautifully programmed and absorbing problems. Skillo!

Award: Your Sinclair Megagame

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 65, May 1991   page(s) 72

Who needs the chunky headsets and funny gloves of Virtual Reality? Strap a pair of binoculars to your eyes, slip on a mitten and for the sell-your-grandmother price of £2.99 you can experience Freescape and explore a whole world. The game that received more praise than most Roman gods, Driller drops you onto a small, gas-bloated moon that is doomed to be hit by a meteor in mere hours, and which will destroy your home planet in the ensuing explosion. Your mission, should you choose to accept it (as if you had any choice), is to seek out and relieve the gas build-ups with your trusty drilling rig (and not a giant packet of liver salts as you might expect).

As with the other Freescape releases, it's not a question of the game becoming dated - when you get frustrated by those tricky puzzles (and those damn laser beacons) you can just wander around the planet and be amazed. (Although after a 5-hour session you do get the urge to see what your furniture looks like upside down and from the back.) What else can I say? Driller has been a Megagame, is a Megagame and will always be a Megagame. So stump up those 3 shiny coins and grab yourself a piece of Speccy history (and get a penny change to boot).


Overall: 97%

Award: Your Sinclair Megagame

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 69, December 1987   page(s) 61

Every now and then, the turbulent and surprising world that is computer software will give birth to a product that threatens to change the whole face of gaming and become the yardstick by which future games will be judged, etc, etc. Needless to say, most of these games fail miserably to live up to their hype and toddle off to their own little land of the curious where they can each boast that they've got the most revolutionary three-dimensional graphics/biggest map/fastest gameplay/most incomprehensible novella, before conceding that they were all extremely dull.

Driller, I'm relieved to say isn't quite such a game.

As explained in our preview in October, Driller incorporates Incentive's new game-system called Freescape. This - to cut a lot of technical guff short - allows you to view the world upon which you find yourself as filled 3D graphics. Big deal, you might say. Well, as a matter of fact it is, because as well as being able to move around; north-south, east-west, up-down, you can look up, down or around anything as well. (This, again, may not sound like the most exciting concept you've ever heard of in your life. Be patient. When everything is working together, things get more appealing).

And now, the plot, Ahem. In the future, a colonised planet named Evath, comes under threat of destruction from the impending collapse of its moon, Mitral. Mitral was used exclusively as a prison planet, and the convicts were set to work mining it and sending the valuable minerals etc back to Evath. Being a hopeless bunch of degenerates, the convicts failed to read their "Elementary Digging Holes" manual and destabilized the planet. Sealing up everything in sight, they scarpered. It's up to you to go around the moon and drill release ducts which will allow the dangerous build-up of gas to escape before the place explodes.

(There. A couple of paragraphs. Quite why it took Incentive reems and reems and pages and pages to get the same point over is beyond me).

Once you begin you'll find yourself looking out through your window on completely uninspiring black & white landscape in an assortment of cross-hatching patterns. Ooh, very tasteful. But once you start moving around, you'll see how tightly the thing has been programmed. The buildings, walls and objects move around with some considerable speed. We're not talking Last Star Fighter, but it's definitely an improvement on Eye of the Mask, especially bearing in mind that the sheer number of objects being moved around. A feature that definitely adds to the realism is the way you can alter your angle of vision. At any time, you can tilt your view through as much as 360'. This is particularly useful while navigating a narrow walkway, as you can continually look down to make sure you're squarely on the path.

Along your way, puzzles appear in numerous guises. There's your standard how-to-cross-this-bottomless-pit problem. There's the-how-do-I-get-in-here problem, and other great problems of our time. There's no text input in Driller, so most of the problems are solved with your laser. Now, your laser has essentially two purposes. It can knock out some of the security systems left behind which hamper your progress. It can also be used to operate the secret "switch" objects (cubes, pyramids, panels etc.) which will operate secret doors, elevators and the like.

Drilling (which is the whole point of the game in the first play) involves first finding the best place to drill. And it's no good just whacking down a rig anywhere. You've got to discover the point below which most of the gas is built up. This largely involves trial and error, picking up the rig and moving it to achieve a higher gas percentage (oo-er), although there are some hints scattered around.

Driller isn't the most nail-biting game to play. There's a reasonable amount of strategy, and you never get into any sweaty-palm combat, though things do move along at a pace reasonable enough to keep you at the computer, and the puzzles are interesting and diverse. It's definitely worth a look.

Label: Incentive
Author: Major Developments
Price: £14.95
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: Various
Reviewer: Jim Douglas


Overall: 9/10

Summary: Innovative and definitely clever. What it lacks in addictiveness, it makes up for in 'ooh' points.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 110, April 1991   page(s) 37

'Stunning use of 3-D graphics do not a good game make', as my Chinese grandmother always used to say. Actually she say "Wong-cho ho fat ping-wah chung ah woo", but that's what she meant, and I'm sure she had Driller in mind.

The Freescape 3-D graphics system, which lets you explore the moon of Mitral in total freedom, is a brilliant example of programming.

The trouble is that your mission is extremely boring - literally and figuratively. You have to gain access to each of 18 centres, find gas pockets and drill holes to relieve the pressure before the moon blows up.

A complicated control panel shows your location, viewpoint, energy and shield status, time remaining and so on; the other half of the screen is taken up with the Freescape graphics, consisting of polygonal buildings, vehicles and installations which you can view from all angles.

Yes, graphically it's brilliant probably one of the best bits of programming ever on the Spectrum. But it's dead dull as a game, and is probably a good example of many games that are set on the moon, especially as Driller has no atmosphere.

Label: Hit Squad
Memory: 48K/128K
Price: £2.99 Tape
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins


Graphics: 86%
Sound: 59%
Playability: 65%
Lastability: 45%
Overall: 60%

Summary: Looks great, moves great, soon grates. Bore yourself boring for gas in this over-inflated epic.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

ACE Issue 4, January 1988   page(s) 76

Solid exploration from Incentive.

Gas build-ups are no laughing matter - not when they're threatening to blow up one of your home planet's moons, at any rate. The debris from the explosion would make rather a hole in everybody's lifestyle, so you've got to get up there and prevent that big bang by setting up drilling rigs and siphoning off the gas. Its a race against time to find the gas pockets, and there's a lot you'll have to work out for yourself.

The playing area isn't the actual lunar surface - that's far too hostile an environment even for your heavily armoured excavation probe - but rather it's an artificial structure built around, and almost encasing, the moon itself. This structure consists of 18 square sections joined at the edges, but there are still holes you can fall through so you'll have to watch your step.

As you explore the buildings and objects to be found in each section your driver's-eye view of them is in true perspective 3D, with solid colour or texture-filling used on all surfaces. Especially where textures are used, it's not always entirely clear what distant or small objects actually are. The solution's simple here: just trundle up to them and take a look. Tiny dots become cubes or pyramids on closer inspection, and seemingly connected buildings turn out to have narrow - but navigable - alleyways in between.

At first you'll simply want to explore the moon. This is a tough enough task to be getting on with though there are obvious doorways to adjoining sections or into buildings right from the word go, you'll need to find or create others. There's more to this than trundling around and looking: you'll also have to identity various switches, and shoot them with your laser cannons to trip them.

Often switches don't directly create the results you want: some work in groups so you'll have to set all the switches correctly before anything useful happens, while others simply reveal further switches that were previously invisible. There are no general principles here - just shoot and observe.

As you might already have guessed, you aren't the only one who gets to do some shooting. The moon's abandoned security system is still in working order, and its static laser turrets can subject you to withering fire if you stray into their field of view. Fire back and you may knock them out or at least impair them before they drain your shield and destroy you, but some turrets are cannon-proof. You may have to search for another route through here, or simply grit your teeth and run the gauntlet.

Turrets aren't the only hazard at that. An orbiting killer satellite will fire down on you if it gets the chance, while minefields and acid rivers make some routes decidedly dangerous. Large drops can wreck your probe even if they don't plunge you onto the moon below, so simple trenches can't be taken lightly either.

Once you've explored the moon, with the help of the energy and shield crystals around the place, you still have to address the central problem of venting the gas. Positioning drilling rigs is child's play - just teleport them in from your home planet at the press of a key - but you have to know where the gas pockets are. The landscape contains all the information you need, but much of it is in cryptic form - symbols on the ground, messages on walls etc - so you'll need to have your brain in gear.

The realism of the Driller playing area lies not just in the solid 3D graphics used to depict it, but also in the very adventure-like way you can think things up, do them and find they work. There's so much to do beyond the normal; if you find the switch to get the moon's teleport network running, can you work out how to trip it? if you find a spotter plane to fly around in, can you keep it airborne.

Fitting Driller into a pigeonhole is tricky.There are arcade, adventure and logical puzzling elements to the gameplay. while the slow-but-impressive graphics hang some where between Starstrike and The Sentinel. It's bold, dazzlingly original and very playable too, and it deserves to feature prominently in the Yuletide charts.

Reviewer: Andy Wilton

RELEASE BOX
C64/128, £9.95cs, £17.95dk, Dec 87
Spectrum, £14.95cs, £17.95dk, Out Now
Ams, £14.95cs, £17.95dk, Out Now

Predicted Interest Curve

1 min: 60/100
1 hour: 95/100
1 day: 90/100
1 week: 90/100
1 month: 55/100
1 year: 35/100


Graphics: 8/10
Audio: 3/10
IQ Factor: 8/10
Fun Factor: 5/10
Ace Rating: 931/1000

Summary: The Amstrad's colours give it more instant appeal, but both versions will enthral you once you start to explore the game a bit.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Computer & Videogames Issue 75, January 1988   page(s) 24

MACHINES: C64/Spectrum/Amstrad
SUPPLIER: Incentive
PRICE: £14.95 (cass), £17.95 disk

Incentive. Curious word that. It means something inciting or encouraging to action, especially to increase output. And that's just what Incentive's new and latest game Driller does.

It raises the blood pressure and gets the adrenalin coursing through your body. Driller's astounding 3D solid vector graphics and amazing realism are brought together in this truly original space arcade adventure. This is the best game Incentive has produced for a long time - and I mean a long, long time.

Driller features an all new 3D graphic environment called Freescape. This allows the player to move to any point in three dimensional space, look in any direction and see the view as if he was actually there.

Each three dimensional building or object can have a different texture and shade of colour. This quality gives a much better look and feel to the game, and enhances all the visual aspects with a sense of high adventure.

Due to the advanced compression techniques used Driller has over 20,000 billion screens which are brought together, via the unique re-drawing technique used, you can hardly notice it!

Your overall mission is to make safe each of the 18 sectors of your moons surface, by positioning a drilling rig over suspected gas pockets in each of the sectors. Big job!

You have two forms of transport under your control. An Excavation Probe which you use to place the drilling rigs wherever you see fit. The other is a Reconnaissance Jet which you can use to scour the moon before venturing out in your in the Excavation Probe. It's a lot faster!

Each vehicle is equipped with a high intensity, high frequency quadruple dual action lasers, shields and high amounts of energy reserves. While on your travels you will encounter various planetary defence systems which include laser beacons and scanners.

The laser beacons are positioned throughout the moon. If you are detected within range of a laser beacon you will be attacked. Laser beacons fire highly damaging lasers - and they never miss! Scanners are different, these are tiny ships which orbit the moon and attack from above.

Whatever transport you are using, your lasers, shield, light and motion are all dependent on Rubicon crystals. Time and use will gradually decrease your stores of energy, this is shown by a horizontal bar graph, with length proportional to your existing supplies of shields and energy.

Extra Rubicon crystals can be located within small shed like buildings, scattered about on the moon's surface, and can be consumed via the lasers.

The lasers are essential for destroying outlawed defence systems and also for operating switches and levers, and for solving puzzles. These have to be used correctly in order to achieve access to other buildings and sectors.

There is a dark and light side of the moon, and both have hazards and dangers which hinder your every move. The dark side is a lot more hazardous than the light, so it is wise to solve the light side first.

Movement is controlled via the joystick and keyboard. The joystick is used to move your current form of transport in all of the usual eight directions.

For the Excavation Probe only, there are a few extra, keyboard controls, with which you can tilt left and right slightly, look up and down (this is handy for spotting attacking Scanners). Rise and fall vertically permits you to peer over high walls and the like. U-turn, increase, decrease step size (allows longer or shorter distances moved between each step) and increase, decrease rotation angle.

The screen consists of several windows, each showing the user a different piece of information. The main window shows the view from the cockpit of your current vehicle, this is where all the action is.

If the 'I' key is pressed at any time during the game, an information screen will appear in the main window. This shows you which sector you are on, how much gas was found and tapped, total amount of safe sectors and also a load and save option.

Driller is definitely one of the best arcade adventure games to have hit the streets for ages. There is nothing I can say to downgrade this excellent piece of software even if I tried! Driller brings together all the magical ingredients that make a game stand out amongst the rest, such as astounding visuals, high adventure and compulsive gameplay.

Driller is packaged with a 30 plus page operations manual, a 3D mapping model and a novella. All of this comes in an impressive illustrated cardboard box. All versions are £15 each, so it may be a good idea if you talk someone into buying it for you for Christmas, and then, buy another cheaper game with your own dosh. Simple, eh?

One more thing, the C64 version has a superb soundtrack written by Matt Gray. Reserve your copy of Driller today before they're all sold out!


Graphics: 9/10
Sound: 9/10
Value: 8/10
Playability: 8/10

Award: C+VG Hit

Transcript by Chris Bourne

The Games Machine Issue 2, December 1987   page(s) 38,39

Spectrum 48/128 Cassette: £14.95, +3 Diskette: £17.95
Amstrad CPC Cassette: £14.95, Diskette: £17.95
Commodore 64/128 Cassette: £14.95, Diskette: £17.95

RIGGED FOR DESTRUCTION

Incentive's Driller project has taken over 14 months to come to life, most of that time being spent on the highly effective solid 3-D graphics routine Freescape, created by Incentive's in-house team Major Developments. The amount of time and effort put into Driller has paid off and the end result is something no 8-bit owner should be without this Christmas. The package, a large box including a 3-D map construct, comes with a hefty instruction manual, and within its covers lies a novella telling the story of events leading up to the action within the game...

The planet Evath has two moons, Mitral and Tricusip. The Ketars who lived on Mitral had set up 18 enormous platforms to mine for Rubicon crystals - a natural source of energy used both on the moon and on Evath. However their mining techniques were primitive and before long great pockets of gas bulb up. Aware of the danger the Ketars fled.

Now an even greater danger than the potential gas explosions threatens, a comet is heading towards Mitral. Though it's collision with the uninhabited moon would normally have been of little consequence, Evathian scientists fear that with the gas build up it could act as a trigger and set off the explosion of Mitral, throwing Evath disastrously off its solar orbit.

You are assigned the mission to make safe all of the 18 sectors on Mitral by positioning drilling rigs over each of the gas pockets to burn off the gas and ensure that when the cornet hits it will have no serious effect upon Evath and it is due in four hours.

DRILLING

The game begins as you land on the first of Mitral's 18 sectors, Amethyst, on board your transportation vehicle. This is similar to a tank equipped with a laser and teleporting device for the drilling rigs.

Discovering where to place the drilling rigs on each sector ranges from being downright easy - there is a big X on the first sector - to being pot lock. When a drilling rig is placed the status screen informs whether gas been found and what percentage can be burnt off. For a drilling to be successful the burn-off must be over 50%.

The vehicle's energy is limited, but it can be replenished by collecting Rubicon crystals which resemble pyramids. Upturned crystals restore energy and base-down crystals restore the shield surrounding the craft.

Planting rigs may appear a tedious application, but what makes Driller so intriguing, apart from the graphics, are the marvellous cryptic puzzles. It is quite possible to forget about drilling and instead explore the planet searching for switches. Switches, usually found in the shape of cubes, are activated by firing at them, which often has some effect, such as opening secret doors or operating lifts.

FLYING ROUND

Unlike many games, the puzzles are not obvious in their appearance - the installation of a teleport system is a good example; early in the game you may find a room with four cubes. Eliminating them in a specific order sets up the telepod system, which you may well later discover in a few of the sectors.

Mitral's automatic defences still operate so travel is quite hazardous. Ketar lasers can be destroyed, changed in position or at least switched off, though some continue firing and dodging quickly past is the only possible avoidance.

Mapping Mitral is essential, though difficult from within the tank, but somewhere the Ketars left a jet behind which you can use. It operates similarly to your ground vehicle but of course it can fly and skim over many sectors - it is, however, impossible to position oil rigs using the jet.

Freescape, the technique where all the 3-D graphics remain solid in every perspective, works extremely well, creating a real sense of exploring the unknown. Admittedly it is slightly jerky but that subtracts nothing from the gameplay, and it can be made smoother by altering the step size.

The highest step is 250, but it can be taken down to just one, although this renders it very slow.

Freescape is a great achievement, and with the addition of Driller's huge scenario, innovative ideas and involving gameplay, the whole package offers a bundle of entertainment to take you through this Christmas - and probably the next one!


Overall: 94%

Summary: Very much the same as on the Amstrad apart from the colour - although the shading works to an almost sinister effect - which because there is less to shift around means the Spectrum version runs slightly faster (even more so on the +3). And no multiloads; it is all squeezed into one 48K load - a considerable achievement for such a mammoth game. At a time when innovation seems halted, Driller not only makes a welcome change but also an excellent one.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Computer Issue February 1988   page(s) 61

Price: £14.95 tape, £17.95 disc
Machine: Spectrum, CBM 64 and Amstrad CPC
Publisher: Incentive

A handsome price but a handsome package, too, for the first Incentive game featuring its new Freescape landscaping technique. The large box contains not only the tape or disc - and a Spectrum Plus-3 disc version is available - but also a glossy 32-page Federation Briefing Instruction manual, a reference card of loading insi ructions and control keys and, finally, a 3D mapping model of the moon Mitral where the game takes place.

I recommend that you construct the model as it helps you navigate round Mitral and, more important, know where you are when you lose your bearings after plunging over the edge of a cliff.

In the world of Driller, the earth is a dying planet and a colony has settled in the further reaches of the galaxy on the planet called Earth. Mitral is one of Evath's moons and it is soon to be goodbye Evath, too, as a meteor is heading for the moon, which unfortunately suffers from a build-up of gases beneath the surface of its 18 sectors.

You have been sent to relieve the gas pressure by locating the most suitable drilling places and planting rigs to siphon the gas and reduce the effect of the meteor collision. This is due in four hours' time, and Driller works in real-time, although if you do not have four hours to spare there is a SAVE feature.

What the game is really about, though, is Freescape. It is more than just a filled-in version of the wireframe graphics which have been used in the past to simulate a three-dimensional landscape; it is a way of creating a total and convincing environment. In Freescape you can look left and right, move forward and back, and you can also look up and down so that when you are passing through a tunnel or a door you can tilt back your head and look up to see the roof passing over your head.

You can move behind and even over objects and, as you move, your perspective changes constantly and reasonably quickly, given the amount of data manipulation which must be happening. Walls loom towards you as you approach and there is a 'thunk' if you approach too close and try to walk through them.

There is plenty of humour about Driller. Mitral is defended by various scanners and lasers and you fire at them as you try to find the places to sink your rigs, though you never know how a laser will respond. One just turns its back on you until you look away, when it turns round again and you can hear the lasers smacking into you. Also amusing is the way you plunge off a wall if you are trying to walk along the top and happen to miss your step. It gives a real feeling of falling, making the game and Mitral very real indeed.

Even with a joystick the number of control keys needed is large and it takes a time to get used to them. A keyboard overlay would not have been amiss. Generally the game is well-thought-out, though. You can adjust some of the controls, such as the step-size for when you are moving round. Increase this to help you speed across an empty landscape to the more interesting pieces, then reduce it again as you manoeuvre in the tight corners. You can also alter the angle by which your view changes as you look to left or right.

You can do U-turns, rise or fall vertically to enable you to look over walls and see what is beyond. In short, Freescape is brilliant. The game is not bad, either.


Overall: Not Rated

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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