Are you ready to face the final frontier? Space is a dangerous place so stay at home if you're faint-hearted. But the rest of you should join Commander David Bishop as he battles his way through the infinite variety of Firebird's Elite.
It's taken an eternity but now the sitting around in space station departure lounges is almost over... fellow space travellers, you are grounded no longer. Elite has arrived to prove there's plenty of life left in Speccy software, not to mention the eight galaxies each with two hundred and fifty planets set in deep space.
Climb aboard your Cobra MkIII trading and combat craft, check your wallet for the 100 credits you start with (hardly enough for a GalacDonalds) and run through the list of weapons. There's the cheap and cheerful Front Pulse Laser, Zieman deflection shields, a Lance & Ferman 'seek and kill' missile system and the Holodirect & Grav-Distort communications system. Sounds impressive, huh? Well, it's interstellar peanuts compared what you'll need to become a member of the order of Elite.
But getting your hands on the hardware you'll need, requires ready cash. Your best bet is to start trading - buying cheap and selling on the other side of the galaxy at a premium. And if you're really out to make a fast buck, you can always try dealing in drugs - but don't be surprised when you find both pirates and police on your tail. In space there's no mercy, and justice is dispensed with the gun.
And as if that's not enough to contend with, you'll find yourself faced with special problems that can spell death if a solution isn't found - and fast! How will you react when your ship is infected with the plague, for example?
To win at Elite, you're gonna need the commercial acumen of a merchant banker, the stategic skills of a chess grand master and the combat reactions of a jet pilot from Earth back in the pre-dawn days of the 1980's and 90's. But then nobody said it was going to be easy!
A year after the battlestar Elite was launched, it has at last made contact with the universe of the Spectrum owner. Perhaps the most talked about computer game ever, has it lost anything in translation?
The game has virtually been rewritten by Firebird's Torus team, and is a very impressive piece of programming. All the best features of the BBC game are there - very fast vector graphics, good instrument display and of course tremendous depth.
You start off as "Harmless" with a real bucket of a ship and 100Cr to your name. Your ambition is to attain the fabled combat status of "Elite" and line your pockets at the same time. The game starts slowly while you get the hang of the controls and make a paltry profit shuttling between safe planets, then the pace begins to quicken as you fill you hold with highly profitable cargo, and equip your ship to allow you to go where no man has traded before.
To attain the status of Elite you have to blow away some 8,000 ships. To break up this somewhat monotonous process, you are called upon to perform a couple of missions for the Galactic Navy.
What, of course, sets this game apart is the use of vector graphics and challenging combat sequences with, if you're unlucky, up to a dozen ships and general bits of debris floating around the place. The number of ships is a reflection of your legal and combat status, the type of planet and your cargo.
Shooting peaceful traders and trading in narcotics are good ways to get rich quick, but the police take a dim view of it. Things can soon get sticky with half a dozen ships whittling down you energy as you twist and turn trying to escape. However, once you're equipped with a military laser - affectionately known as The Can Opener by pilots everywhere - life becomes a little easier, if it really gets nasty, it's time to hyperspace out, or perhaps try out the smart bomb.
Although it's difficult at this early stage to tell whether Firebird have succeeded in bug eradication, there does seem to be a problem with the space stations which are sometimes placed too far away from the planet, and on one occasion in the middle of the planet.
On the plus side, your status is constantly displayed on all screens and the display is very fast, even when a lot is happening on the screen.
Frankly a program no self-respecting Spectrum owner can afford to be without.
All information in this page is provided by ZXSR instead of ZXDB