Reviewed by Michael Fleischmann
Brataccas by England's Psygnosis Limited is an animated adventure game with ambitious graphics. Your character is Kyne, a hero with a price on his head. You move through many rooms, gather proof of a government plot and try to stay alive. Meanwhile, the 60-odd inhabitants of this world are moving as well-and time rolls on.
Kyne is a genetic engineer who developed a way to make a super-being in the hopes of improving the quality of life for his fellow man. But the government has decided that a race of super killing machines is a better use for Kyne's discoveries. Kyne, on learning this, refuses to continue his work or reveal what he had already learned. Thus, he must go into hiding.
The government issues a warrant for Kyne's arrest, frames him for a crime he did not commit, and puts out a contract for him with the underworld. A bit of overkill here. Everyone is out to get this guy.
While fleeing, Kyne discovers that Brataccas-a small mining asteroid- might hold the answers he needs, so he ends up there. As Kyne, you must find this proof and get it to the proper authorities.
Brataccas, the first colonized asteroid, has become a favorite haunt for miners. With miners comes money and with money comes corruption. The main things the residents of Brataccas understand are bribery, corruption and opportunism. They also enjoy killing each other-which does make staying alive a problem. In other words, Brataccas is a very rough neighborhood to go snooping around in.
This game comes on an auto-boot disk. While loading, some nice music plays to give you something to listen to. Then the screen prompts you to press any key to start. As the music fades, your screen changes to show Kyne appearing in the arrivals bay.
At this point you can start playing or press the [HELP] key to display the options menu. This menu is very important as it pauses the action, allows you to set up how you will control Kyne, and gives you the ability to save and restore a game. It also has a movie mode which puts Kyne on auto-pilot and he plays the game himself.
I found the animation to be quite good and smooth. The scenery is well thought out and detailed. You can even see another planet (moon? asteroid?) setting through a window. The city is fairly vast with lots of rooms to explore and quite a few to figure out how to to get into without dying.
Now the bad news. It seems obvious to me that the main programming effort for Brataccas was put into the animation and not into the player interface. If you buy the game, don't even bother trying to play it with a joystick or mouse. Controlling Kyne reliably with either of these in a critical situation is nearly impossible. And even with the keyboard it takes a lot of practice.
The animation slows down to a crawl if more than two characters are on screen at the same time. Another bothersome trait is that if you fall down from a raised area all the items you are carrying will drop to the floor and the other characters try to pick them up. (Some might consider this a feature, but I found it very annoying.)
If you want to pick up anything off the floor, you had better have patience. One time, it took me twenty tries to get an object off the floor. Objects are another irritation. Even though you are carrying the objects you cannot examine them, read them, or do anything else with them but drop them.
The authors say their interface "implies action," which means that the game tries to sense what you want to do and will proceed to do it for you. Most of the time for me, it meant running into walls at full speed.
Talking to other characters is another matter. You cannot speak to any other character unless they address you first. When you do get a chance to talk, don't be too near the other character as your ballon (just like in the comics) goes over the top of theirs so you end up guessing what the other was saying.
To sum it all up, for all its impressive graphics and hi-tech, Blade Runner plotline, I really can't say Brataccas is one of my favorites. It's too slow for arcade action and too limited for an adventure. It was fun, but less so than I would expect. On a scale of 1 to 10 I would have to give it a 5.