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Monday, July 04, 2016

Substation



You'll need a 25MHz PC for this one...

I remember those days when the ST was getting on, and my Falcon didn't quite cut it. All my mates had left their Atari ST and Amigas for expensive PCs and boy, where those computers bulky and incredibly very ugly! Yet, I also remember being so gutted when they booted up Wolfenstein. I always died the first time I saw Doom.

Anyhow, we had our moments and the Atari ST had a great number of first-person shooters by the early 90s. And in 1995 along came a company called Unique Development Sweden who decided that our old 16-bit computer wasn't dead yet! They graced us with Substation which was about to change everything. Read on...

Mitushi Industries have developed a new type of energy that is extracted from under the seas. All seemed well for a few years until communication was lost with their underwater substation base. So they contracted the help of a Multi-Environment Marine from the American government. In case you are wondering, this is you so suit up!




When a 1985 computer blows you away!

Upon starting, ditch the knife and hit key "2" which switches to a rather sweet pistol. Now, collect all the goodies you see and open the door; outside, is access to more goodies but there's also a couple of ghouls lurking! They're gonna try and stop ya so will you risk a fight or run away scared down that seemingly empty corridor?

The baddies are an intelligent bunch who won't stupidly head straight for you. Nope, expect some to use evasive tactics as they shoot a few rounds and then run to take cover! So use that pistol to protect yourself, remembering to sidestep oncoming fire. The chain gun is absolutely amazing and Arnold Schwarzenegger would be proud to carry. In fact, your weapons are superb - I only wish it didn't take so long to find many of them.

Movement is actioned with the keyboard: arrow keys to walk/turn around with Insert and Clr Home keys for convenient sidestepping. Control key fires all weapons, the Spacebar opens doors, and punching the TAB key drops a bomb. Don't forget to make use of the map which is located at the bottom of your screen: this automatically tracks your movements and the keypad can be used to examine the already explored areas.



16 Colours is all you need!

Graphically, I'm both impressed and unimpressed in equal measure. I love the eerie atmosphere and the use of light-sourced sprites with great visual effects and all within a minimum framerate of 25fps on an 8MHz Atari STe!! However, the walls have no texture mapping because UDS opted for faster Gouraud shading to maintain a smooth framerate. This is disappointing because games like Destruction Imminent and Wolfenstein 3D prove the ST is more than capable. I feel UDS missed an opportunity for optional textures on faster computers.

Audio is spot-on perfect. Substation uses the enhanced hardware so we're able to hear distance and directional sound effects. This helps to identify where the baddies are lurking surprisingly well. Equally impressive are the tunes, also played at 25Khz for excellent quality. You're gonna love this so crank up the volume!



The CryptO'pinion?

Technically speaking this is one of the most impressive games released on ye olde Atari STe. Think about it, a first-person engine that is capable of maintaining a brisk 25fps. Not only that but it also features distance and directional stereo sounds with light source sprites and intelligent enemy AI. There are over 30 colours on-screen and you can even play others over a network. Heck, even faster computers support smoother framerates...

However, if you're expecting Substation to be like Doom then you will be disappointed because it's more like Wolfenstein. Don't get me wrong, this isn't bad and it is brilliant but shouldn't be compared to Doom at all. Gameplay is challenging and the missions are tough but interesting and keep you coming back for more. Substation is one seriously awesome first-person shooter so pick up your guns and have yourself some fun!!



- ESSENTIAL SUBSTATION LINKS -

Download on floppy or best of all for your hard drive.

ST Format featured a basic preview level on cover disk #72.
They also held a competition and the winning game is on cover disk #75.
Fancy a trainer? ST Format cover disk #76 has all the answers!
[ all ST Format coverdisks can be downloaded off Exxos ]

Substation tips and maps can be found in ST Format issues #74 / #75 / #76 / #77.

We all love cheat codes and to get all weapons just type "PUNK"
"NIRVANA" gets you health and "PFLOYD" unlocks doors.
"SKRAPAN" credits extra bombs and "FALUKORV" allows extra time.

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