Retail Price: £1.99
Author: J Gollop
After recently looking at the old RED SHIFT game, Rebelstar Raiders and getting a lot of response, I was pleased to receive this release from Firebird. Called Rebelstar, it is actually written by the author of that early classic but has been much improved. For the price, this has to be the best strategy game I've reviewed in ten months of writing FRONTLINE.
One and Two player versions of the game are provided, each loaded as a separate game from a different side of the cassette. There is only one scenario, but this is larger than any of those in its predecessor. It involves a group of raiders trying to break into an enemy complex and disable the main computer. Player(s) controls individual characters or robots which are each allocated a certain number of action points. The members of a player's team are ordered individually with different actions costing varying numbers of points. Each team member may carry out as many actions as required in a single move, as long as the point allowance for that character is not exceeded for that move.
Each character carries a weapon of some description and a quota of ammunition and may also carry several other items found on the route to the central computer. Only one item may be used at any time and it costs Action Points to change from one item to another.
The screen scrolls in four directions following the trail of the cursor used to order team members. To the right of the main action area, an information display lists the options available and any information about the figure currently highlighted by the cursor.
Play consists of turns during which a player moves and orders all forces under his or her control. Movement for characters is eight directional and orders consist of M (drop object), P (pick up object), O (change object in use), L (load object) and F (enter fire mode). Movement is achieved by selecting a unit and moving it under the cursor. When fire mode is entered, some map detail disappears, combatants become coloured spheres and the cursor changes into a sight. This sight is positioned in the desired target area and when confirmed, an energy beam is displayed along with a message detailing the accuracy of the pulse. There are three different kinds of shot: an aimed shot costs the most points but is most likely to succeed; a snapshot is less accurate but costs fewer points to perform; finally, a player may select opportunity fire to cover a particular area. Opportunity Fire only executes a shot when an enemy crosses the line of fire during his turn, in which case a snapshot is fired at him.
Shots may damage, wound or kill, scoring a random number of points determined by the power of the weapon. Generally, the more powerful the weapon a character possesses, the less ammunition is available. If a character is wounded in combat, a message to this effect appears next time that character is selected. Wounding reduces the constitution of a character - second wound kills. Killed characters are removed from play, but droids that have been knocked out leave wreckage which causes a blockage.
As the complex is entered and explored, various objects may become available to the players. Keys can be used to lock or unlock security doors (the key to the armoury is particularly useful). Medi-probes can be used to heal wounded characters, and Droid-probes repair droids. Using an object is achieved by bumping into the required target.
In the one player game, you may only take the part of the raiders but this apparent limitation is offset by the fact that the computer opponent is a highly competent adversary. It deploys the delending droids cleverly and uses them ruthlessly in its attempt to thwart your mission. However, as there are eight difficulty settings, you can temper this efficiency somewhat.
The game is superbly error trapped and many of the warning messages relate to specific actions to avoid ambiguity. The map is clean and well drawn but packed with detail and every item is properly labelled. Character graphics are quite good with different weapons altering the look of the troopers (all of whom are named). Even the sound effects are reasonable. Weapon skills, stamina and morale are taken into acount on an individual level and atmosphere and variety included in each event. Each character also has an assigned perecentage chance of hitting a target listed.
I would have expected a game of such quality to appear at a much higher price, and take my hat off to Firebird for introducing his much improved version of an old favourite back onto the market at a reasonable price. I can find no fault with it.
If you could film a Speccy game in Supermarionation, this is it. Straight from the stable of Sylvia and Gerry Anderson, here's a strategy game with a cosmic shoot 'em up element that looks like a combination of Captain Scarlett and Space 1999.
If you're looking for a subtle plot though, look elsewhere. Either you're a Raider or a Defender, and the prize to be won on the Rebel Star is the richest of all - control of Moonbase Delta. You can either play two up, choosing who defends or attacks, or against your Speccy, which always controls the defending team. It only has keyboard mode, but sensibly positioned six directional cursor movement still gives you plenty of manoeuvrability.
Each side has a colleciton of men or droids, all with a certain amount of energy designated as action points. These are all used up whenever that character loads a weapon or whatever - and be careful, these galactonauts aren't as energetic as you might think. They also have different fighting qualities (much like the superhero cards), some of which seem spurious but then bluff can be an important tactic. By punching the info button, you can size up the morale, stamina, armour, weapon skill and action points of any men at any time.
As well as movement mode, there's also select, and most crucially, fire mode with its three operations of snap, opportunity and aimed fire. Beware, the last is the most accurate but also the most energy draining. Speed and tactics are largely up to you and depend on how quickly you familiarize yourself your game options.
The Raiders must knock out the central ISAAC computer (and/or the three repairable laser defender computers) to be on the road to victory.
Rebel Star is really a wargame - a sort of inter-galactic Battleships, only here for the most part you can see what your opponents are up to. It won't win points for pace and sophistication but it's thorough-going enough to keep you off the streets for a while.
One from Firebird's £1.99 range, but unlike some of the terminally dull arcade offerings the company has released this one's a moderately interesting strategy game.
The term strategy covers a multitude of programming sins, but Rebel Star is closely based on 'real' strategy games where you work out the winners and losers according to some calculations and strict rules.
To do anything in Rebel Star you need to acquire points, using the points available among the members of your team is the art of the game.
The plot is relatively simple, one side tries to take over Moonbase Delta, (wasn't there a Moonbase Alpha some where in TV history?), the other side tries to defend. You may run it as a two player game or with the computer controlling the defences.
You take turns and within each turn there are three possible modes-cursor mode where you select members of each team and assess strengths, select mode where you may decide to move, get an object, drop an object, load a weapon or fire mode where you get to do what you wanted to do all along and kill something. You need energy to fire and may either direct your fire, or select a line of fire and wait for the enemy to cross it in his turn. What sort of destruction is achieved depends on a mixture of factors derived ultimately from the energy status of the firing unit.
There are more conventional adventure elements in the game as well, objects to be found and used, some of which will heal wounded humans, some open particular doors and so on.
This really is a true strategy game, as you play you discover that certain kinds of unit are good at some things and useless at others, just as certain areas of the moonbase are more easy to enter than others. It is quite easy to waste an awful lot of points.
On screen the game is schematic and functional rather than Gosh, Wow. although some of the designs are quite appealing - I particularly liked the combat droids. The moonbase is represented in blueprint form restricted to outlines of walls and doors. The playing area is large and varied and the range of options within a move quite considerable.
Playing against the computer proved little since I am lousy at this sort of game anyway - it thrashed me.
Astonishing value in a budget title and a real treat for strategy addicts fed up with recreating the Battle of Britain.
Author: J Gollop
Reviewer: Graham Taylor
Originally released by Red-Shift as Rebelstar Raiders, Firebird bought the game, revamped it and re-released it as Rebelstar before it achieved the success it so richly deserved.
The player takes charge of ten or so raiders in an attempt to destroy the Isaac computer at the heart of Moonbase Delta. Either the computer or a friend can be chosen to play the part of the defenders. The playing system is very easy to use and involves selecting a member of your team who has a certain amount of Action points; these are used up depending upon what you want the character to do. Simply moving your character to the left or right will cost far fewer action points than an aimed shot at a target will, so how you spend each character's action points each turn can become very tricky indeed. A simple game to play but one that is very hard to put down - or win.
In Rebelstar, the game takes place at a control base on the moon. In the one-player game you take control of a group of desperate raiders as they attack Moonbase Delta. Once inside, you must locate and then destroy the ISSAC computer which controls the base.
The two-player game is similar but the second player takes command of the operatives of the base. In addition to defending against the raiders, he must also activate additional droids and arm his human operatives with rifles from the armoury. As the game progresses, reinforcements arrive for both sides and the battle continues.
"This is no ordinary game!", gushes the blurb from the inlay. "There is no fancy story or scenario, just you against the computer or a friend. It is a fight to the death. There are no half measures. No truces or pacts. The battle will be hard fought... but the winner will be supreme."
It seems an odd claim that Rebel Star should be extraordinary because it doesn't have frivolous additions like a "fancy story". In fact Rebel Star is very ordinary indeed, a straightforward kill or be killed tussle between forces fighting for domination of Moonbase Delta. It's certainly adequate considering its limited scope but a story, fancy otherwise would have helped.
The game is keyboard only and on one side of the tape is the one player version and on the other a two player option. Briefly the attackers (Raiders) have to break into the base and destroy the central computer. The defending force are mainly droids. Your capabilities revolve around the acquisition of action points which are distributed before each turn.
All your actions such as picking up dropping or changing objects uses up these points. Loading and firing a variety of weapons also saps your action points. You are informed as to how many points either an aimed or a snap shot will take and there's also a mode known as opportunity fire where a shot is delayed until your opponents turn. The aiming mode is a rudimentary shift the cursor affair and this combined with weighing up how much each shot will cost in energy terms makes the action very slow.
It's certainly not an all action shoot-em-up and the constant need to assess what you can do with your action points makes it more a game for would-be accountants than a spree for the trigger happy.
Given the lack of arcade action one would have thought that a greater strategy element would nave been included but it's been kept to the minimum. There are things to remember if you are attacking the base such as the combat droids armed with blast torches are the only ones who can destroy airlock doors and if you succeed in destroying the three laser computers in the base you will get reinforcements. These aspects however, only give a token degree of sophistication to the game.
Although the game fails to generate much excitement or involvement it might appeal to those who like their destruction and mayhem at a leisurely pace and a budget price and don't want to get bogged down with complex game play.
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