Monday, July 04, 2016


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

I remember the days when the ST was getting on a bit, the Falcon didn't quite cut it, and all my mates had left behind their Atari STs and Amigas for expensive PCs. They were bulky and incredibly ugly but I also remember how gutted I felt when I saw them playing Wolfenstein (I almost died of shock the first time I saw Doom).

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

The story goes that Mitushi Industries have developed a type of energy that is extracted from under the seas. All seemed well 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!

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 it. In fact, the weapons are superb - I only wish it didn't take so long to find them all.

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 enough!

Graphically, I'm both impressed and unimpressed - in equal measure. I love the eerie atmosphere and the use of light-sourced sprites. There are lots of visual effects and all within a minimum framerate of 25fps from an 8MHz Atari STe!! Sadly, 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...

The gameplay is challenging and the missions are tough but interesting and keep you coming back for more. 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. It's brilliant. But it cannot be compared to Doom.

Substation is one seriously awesome first-person shooter so pick up your guns and have yourself some fun!!


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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