"In the Caldorre System. Cargoliners, shuttling supplies to the outlying frontier, are being mysteriously destroyed by raiders. Commissioned by the Federation, a squadron of Interceptors – including your crew of 5 cadets – is sent to end the senseless destruction. It's a mission fraught with intrigue, suspense and danger."
This is the flavor text from the back of the original box, and it hits the nail right on the spot. The game is a gripping science fiction RPG set in a distant solar system. You control your own spaceship and try to solve the mysteries of the Raiders, who appear seemingly at random, attack some freight ships, and vanish as quickly as they arrived. You have various things to take care of. In interstellar space, you control your ship from a birds-eye view, responding to Federation distress calls from freighters and driving away Raider ships in a simple real-time combat.
If you decide to dock at one of the three inhabited planets of the Caldorre system, you can decide to refuel or repair your ship, upgrade your computer systems (to make hyperjumps more fuel-efficient or improve your ship's combat abilities), or take on science mission to earn a little cash. You can also decide to land on the planet, exploring a vast (procedurally created) planetside from inside an ATV.
Should you find a settlement, dungeon, or dock at one of the three huge towers of the Caldorre planet (after which the star system is named), you can explore them in a simple 3D first person view with an overlaid automap and lots of cool flavor text and flavor images. Combat in these dungeons is also real-time but happens automatically, you only have to select the target.
Things I like about the game:
- The setting. It is very well thought out, with a lot of attention to detail.
- The vast spaces to explore. It looks like you really have 3 whole planets stored in ~500kb to discover (although I admit that most of them are rather empty and use "generic" flavor text).
- The many people you can interact with.
- The gorgeous graphics, indoor and outdoor.
- The amount of time you need to put into the game to play it through.
Some things are not as good though:
- The combat is (especially later in the game) quite boring, and rather difficult. You always have to make sure that your medic stays in close contact to your group, because he heals wounds also in real-time. Which is normally not a problem, because your crew follows your steps "nibble-style", but if there's a door (which opens and closes automatically) separating him from the rest of your crew, you're in deep trouble very quickly.
- Related to the point above, if one member of your crew dies, you have to hire a completely new (level 1) character. If everyone of your original crew has died once, it's game over.
All in all the game was pretty fun (I played through the C64 version in 1990, not the DOS version) and still gets 5/6 stars from me. Too bad the sequel that the title promised was never made…