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Alive 4
                         SpaceWar 2000 Review & Guide
                                  By Gunstar
                              Source :  AREA64

Well, after a full weekend of doing not much more than play SpaceWar 2K, I
think I have seen most of the in's and out's of this "work in progress/test
demo" game. It didn't come with instructions and only a sheet of paper with
the majority of controls.

First thing, you're hit with the title screen and a pyschedelic light show
remeniscent of the Jagcd's VLM and Tempest 2K's "Melto-vision" screens, but
looking closer to the light show on a Panosonic 3DO's cd player. Besides the
lightshow, there are several other graphic animations on various menu screens
such as the three-eyed, bald man (Who is said to be a top tester for Atari,
Lance Lewis of AvP fame), a skull, and a pair of hands with the ship rising
out of the palms turning away.

The menus have a variety of options, all accessable except for the weapons
shop. I will cover these in detail later.

The music in the game is the same throughout, one song, and it sounds simi-
liar to the generic, John William's symphony music that is so prevelent in
WingCommander games. Solid, but amazingly, not too annoying. It stays in the
background where it belongs.

The graphics are top notch for a game that isn't complete; Fully textured
ships and animated asteroids. Good looking weapons, special effects and
explosions. The frame rate is fast and smooth. I'd say at *least* 20+fps,
maybe as high as 30fps.

There are cocpit and external views in both one player and two modes, and no
slow down. There is an aft view and right and left views. These are all very
nice and useful.

The radar is effective, but hard to understand and use. It is about as close
to opposite as it can get with Battlesphere's radar. It is as if your ship is
in the center of a ball universe, and a 2 dimensional plane of your ship
splits the middle of the sphere. Your radar is a TOPDOWN view, like naval
radar. Anything on the top half of the radar is in front of you and anything
on the bottom half is behind you. Anything that is orange is below you and
anything green is in above of you. The color of the object will pulsate bet-
ween green/orange when it is level with you. the dimmer the dot, the farther
away, the brighter, the closer. There is no distinction between enemies and
asteroids except movement. If you split the radar into quarters, the top left
would be FL, the top right FR. The bottom left would be AL and bottom right,
AR. These represent foward and aft, port and starboard sides (left and right).
If an enemy is at ten o'clock on the radar screen, he is in front of you and
either above or below you by his color. If an enemy is at 5 o'clock he is
behind you and above or below depending on the color. An enemy that is
directly in front or behind you will be at 12 o'clock and 6 o'clock
respectively and flashing green/orange. Hope, this helps with the confusion
of the radar, I was only half right before, and something just didn't seem
right and then suddenly the light came on and I realized the view was looking
down from above your ship instead of ahead like Battlsphere or most other
space sims.

The play modes include practice, standard and Tournament in both one and two
player games. These appear to only change the difficulty except for practice
mode. Practice mode keeps no score and you fight against 3(?) ships that look
just like you. In two player games, co-op, competative or dueling modes are
available. The enemy droid ships can be set at different difficulties as well.
These include amount: no enemies-way too many. Speed: sluggish-way too fast.
Four variations on each. You can also choose whether the enemies use shields
or armor. It has come to my attention from a Jaguar fan at JI2 that there is
a third option for the enemy "shield" strength; Fragile(push left ond d-pad
at enemy shields option). Enemy A.I., the number attacking and strength
change with these parameters.

There are also options available to change the "Arena." These include open
and closed universe; no sun, sun, or blackhole; empty space, asteroids,
blasteroids, or nebula. Asteriods can't be shot, blasteroids can. Nebula
cannot, but they don't hurt you like asteriods either. The asteriods are set
up on a 2d plane (which is used as a reference point for the 3d radar). The
asteroid "field" is not static, but orbits around the sun or blackhole, so
if you are perfectly motionless in the asteroids, it is possible to be hit
by them. Nebula is scattered throughout the 3d "universe." If you hit the
sun, your dead. If you hit the blackhole, you are damaged and transported to
another location. In closed universe, you *will* come to a dead stop at an
invisible wall at the edges of the "sector" or "universe" bubble. The "open
universe" of SW2K does *NOT* wrap around like Battlesphere. It goes on either
indefinately or infinately, it is *very* possible to get lost out there some
where, because I have, one of the "H" shaped enemy ships (seen in later
levels/waves) purposely led me into the middle of nowhere, I was disoriented
and lost my way. I flew in one direction for about 10 minutes and never had
any wrap-around occur. I dropped mines behind me so I would know if I came
back upon them that it was indeed a wrap around universe and I had some how
missed the asteroids by flying to far above or below them, this never happened.
It is possible to get too far away and have *NO* points of reference left on
radar to go by, not even the sun.

I have encountered 3 different types of enemy ships so far, reaching just
over 103,000 points at about the 7 or 8th wave. I had everything set on the
tuffest levels. After every "round," you are taken to the score screen and
then back to the main menu, but if you did not die, continue by selecting the
"play bell" option (also starts a game), and your game will continue at the
next wave with the running total of your score kept until you die.

After further study of the available special weapons, it seems to me that no
matter the difficulty, you do start out with 8 mines, and 2 of every type of
missle. You must hit the "option" button TWICE the first time you go to
activate special weapons. The first "weapon holder" is empty. I found the
game too easy and went straight for the throat in the higher difficulties.
I do know that in the higher difficulties that once you use your weapons you
don't get them back and you have to reset the game to obtain more for the
next game.

Special weapons include; mines, guided missles, active missles, passive
missiles and seekers. There are also standard photon and laser weapons. The
special weapons have to be locked on to a target to fire or else you'll hear
a strange sound and your ship will vibrate or shake. Mines do not require a
lock-on. lock-on occurs when your are facing and in range of an enemy, a
green box will appear around your crosshairs. Other specials include a
cloaking device and a decoy that both have a limited time and one use per

Your systems energy can be taken out or damaged and drained, it is a green
horizontal bar on the lower left of the radar screen. It moves from right
to left, changing first from green to yellow and then from yellow to red
with each enemy hit or if a system leak is occuring (once shields have been
breached), then you're dead in space. It is recharged every "wave/level."

Controls are spartan, but work and are relatively well placed. They are as
follows and not changable; (d-pad)Pilot controls: down is climb(up), up is
dive(down), left/left and right/right. Full 6 degrees freedom of movement,
pretty much like Battlesphere or WingCommander, but there is no spin (left
or right yawe) like the others.
Increasing the speed is easy enough with the 3 button, but it takes me a
trip across the keypad to the 1 button with my right hand, so I don't lose
control with my left hand.

Shields and speed indicators are on the heads-up display on the right and
left respectively.

Controls are as follow:

C)special weapon (a weapon *must* be selected to fire)
(option) special weapon select(hit 2x on first "activation")
D-pad) Pilot flight controls
1)reduce speed
2)cockpit view
3)increase speed
4)left view (also L on a procontroller)
5)change radar distance; short, medium, far.
6)right view (also R on Procontroller)
8)aft view (also y button)
9)exterior view (also x button)
0)toggle music
#)cloaking device (limited time)
*)decoy device (limited time)

Over all this is a fantastic game, especially for one that isn't finished,
with a lot of great details and it's buttoned up tight, with only one loose
end; the weapon shop. The game modes most closely resemble the "gauntlet"
mode of Battlesphere, without the starbases to protect. Of course two player
dueling would be more like Battlesphere or free-for-all modes on B.S.

I'm not going to give it a number or star rating since it is an unfinished
game, but I will say that it is a lot better and more fun with a better
replay value than many finished video games. If your looking for a Jaguar
space sim, and can't get Battlesphere, this *is* the next best thing. You
won't be disappointed.

Alive 4