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THE Wing Commander series always prided itself on pushing back existing boundaries in computer gaming.

Fans of the X-Wing series won't agree that Wing Commander was the best mix of an interactive movie with space combat missions, but we've seen the likes of FreeSpace 2 steal both their honours.

Now the Wing Commander team have launched back in to space with this. Of course, original plots and ideas are about as frequent as finding a comet, but even so, I was expecting better enemies.

So, who were we fighting? Mad tentacled Bug Blatter Beasts from Planet X? Ferocious feline invaders from the Kittylitter Galaxy? No. We are fighting Soviets. It seems that, in StarLancer's universe, the Cold War is resurrected in space and Russia becomes Reagan's Evil Empire.

Unsurprisingly, during a peace treaty, the Reds launch an attack, a la Pearl Harbour and we're off.

When the pretty cinematics of the intro are over, you get a tutorial on how to be a space-pilot hero. Take it. You need all the help you can get because StarLancer is fast. After playing FreeSpace 2 , it's striking just how fast the combat in StarLancer is. Blink and you're dead.

If that had been combined with an AI that wasn't so brain dead, playing this would be really tough - but the enemy flying, especially on the Easy and Medium levels is sometimes laughable.

The game looks really good, too. The explosions, weapon effects and ship models are fantastic. And the planet backgrounds are simply lush.

The fact that you can go walkabout on your ship gives a great sense of place as well as detailed info on all sorts of stuff.

StarLancer's lack of rigidity also paves the way for its excellent multiplayer co-operative option, which has been lacking from other titles in the genre.

You and three friends can play together through the campaign, or up to eight can play against each other in a deathmatch.

Dragon act



THE first word that springs to mind with this is "stylish". It is not a word you associate with PlayStation action RPG games.

Crash. Blood. Kill. Zombie. These are all words you associate with PlayStation action RPG games.

The next words that spring to mind are "comic book". This is one of those games designed as if it was a Gothic horror comic, with all the rich artwork that embodies - including the speech bubbles.

It's amazing what a simple pointer to a moving mouth does to a character's speech. The presence of the bubbles works so well that the lack of vocals is hardly bothersome. In fact, given the level of "acting" employed by some of the voice-overs, it's refreshing.

It also means that you can enjoy the impressive writing. This isn't an interactive movie, it's an interactive novel.

It's set in Le Monde, a medieval European-style city of once-lavish splendour,now a forgotten wasteland since a devastating earthquake that struck 25 years ago.

Now battle is about to break out for supremacy over the legacy that lies in the ruins and the considerable labyrinth of dungeons. Vagrant Story is a fusion of action, role-playing and storytelling, all with a maturity and depth yet unseen in a PlayStation RPG.

Graphically, the use of real-time polygons is stunning, with intricately detailed characters and a smoothly-running game engine.

The city is brilliantly done - this is Batman's Gotham with a dash of vampire about it.

It's also extensive - there's a lot of places to be covered in this city and the 3D mapping feature works well enough to keep you occupied for at least 20-30 hours of gameplay.

That means you can go back in with all your resources and the ability to check out previously locked areas after completing it once. Just watch out for the dragon

Vagrant Story is a full- bodied single player experience, lovingly designed and great to play.


Online multiplay

WITH their steep learning curves, constant updates, costs and that curse, lag-time, online games are something you either love or hate.

You should really try and play this, though. In Allegiance, a person commands a fleet of hundreds of ships each crewed by real people. Yes, real people. I'll say that again, real people. Blast a Scout or a Fighter and you "kill" a player out of the game.

Against you is another commander with a similar fleet, complete with scouts, fighters, bombers and cruisers and a huge area to play in, conquering systems, planets and their resources.

Your first choice of ship is usually limited to either Scout or Fighter.The best way is to join a bomber pilot and man one of his turrets.

Then you can try to move up through the ranks until you become The Commander.

This is the future of gaming. RATING 8/10


NINE years after it was released by Dundee's DMA Design, the Lemmings are back.

The genre died a death thanks to poor sequels and cashing-in. New developer, Tarantula Studios, has thus put it upon themselves to capture the original essence - Lemmings fall from trapdoor. Lemmings don't stop walking. Get rid of Lemmings quickly.

There are new dangers - boxing kangaroos, giant birds and crabs - and three new Lemmings that can walk on water, lava and acid respectively.

However, for all those people who have played the original, this is a data disk with slightly nicer graphics.

If you haven't already, your best bet is to seek out a copy of Lemmings 2: The Tribes, as that contains a more distinctive advance on the series than what's on offer here. RATING 5/10




WHILE playing, right-click on a well, then type [Alt]+K and enter any of these codes:

[Alt]+C - Gain money (this will only work if you have less than 5000 dn).

[Alt]+V - Skip level.

Quick Soldiers -Place a barracks in a location not connected to roads and thus not accessible to workers. Place additional barracks in similar locations to quickly produce soldiers.



FULL PAUSE SCREEN - Pause the game and press X and Y.

LEVEL UP - Depends on kills - so go to the first level in the mountain world. Now go to the first set of stairs and fix the controller to autofire as the green trolls come at you. Leave on overnight for huge levels, sometimes up to 10,000.



PASS THROUGH WALLS - Hold L1+R2+ Circle+Square and then press Select while at the main menu to activate the no- clipping mode.



IF you place the game disc in a PC CD-ROM and watch it with a movie player you will be able to see a Kalisto introduction. Similarly, a PC CD-ROM drive will reveal wallpaper and images from the game.



99 LIVES - Pause the game, and then hit L, A, Right, B, Up, A, Left, B, Down, A, Right, B, Up, A, Left, B.



SAVE - After pausing the game hold L1 and press X, Triangle, Circle, Down, Up, Right. A shaking screen will confirm entry.

GET 10X MULTIPLIER - As above, but press Triangle, X, Triangle. A shaking screen will confirm entry.

GET 13X MULTIPLIER - Same deal, but press X, Square, Square,Triangle, Up, Down.

LEVEL SELECT - Pause the game, hold L1 and press Triangle, Right, Up,Square, Triangle, Left, Up, Square, Triangle.

EVERYTHING UNLOCKED AND MAXED - Hold L1 and press Circle, Right, Up, Down, Circle, Right, Up, Square, Triangle.Note - this works on some machines and not others, but no-one can tell me why.



THE following codes only function in single player custom games and campaign games.To utilise them once in a game, press the Enter key. An on-screen Message prompt appears. Type in the code you have selected and press the Enter key again. The message 'Cheat Enabled' should then appear.

POWER OVERWHELMING - Your units become invincible and extremely strong.

BLACK SHEEP WALL - Reveals entire map.

COPYRIGHT 2000 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2000 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jun 23, 2000
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