Operation: Inner Space
Windows 3.x - 1994
Description of Operation: Inner Space Windows 3.x
This is a long review. mostly me babbling about how good InnerSpace is. If you don't want to read all of this; I'll spoil it: This game is great! Get it at cs.uwp.edu pub/incoming/games.
The scoop here is that your computer has been invaded and the programs have been set loose to "feed on your systems' resources", and your mission is to fly a ship inside, "Inner Space", as it is referred to, to capture or destroy all the icons (representing the programs) before facing the final challenge.
You start out your new game by picking out a ship from the dozens given to you, each having different strengths/weaknesses, and each on one of the 8 teams. The ships are really neat little bitmaps, designs ranging from rockets to rubber duckies, and if you want to, you can design your own (see way below). After you pick your ship, onwards you go to your hard drive to choose the directory in which you want to cleanse of evil. After you enter the Inner Space, a little briefing will tell you how many icons (8 or below) in that wave, what ships are flying around, and what hazards...ranging from donut spitting turrets to the nasty computer viruses. Once you are inside, you pilot your ship around and try to collect icons. Why collect instead of destroy, you ask? Because each icon gives you a resource, credits which you can use to buy equipment, and repair yourself via the ambulance. The ambulance, BTW, is a vehicle that services one ship at a time, which ever beckons first, when you press elp. Things you can but range from powerful weapons such as throwing stars and heat seekers, to better armor and thrusters. After a while, your ship rating might go from "Feeble" to "Beyond Reason" with these enchantments.
The above sounds pretty standard, but then we get to the fellow ships who are also competing fiercely with you for resources so they can power themselves also. (Un?)Fortunately, a few of these are your allies, the rest are your enemies. This leads up to some really fun space battles. You can command your friends to attack a common foe, stay back, or protect you. In fact, there is a separate "strategy" mode where you can play the game this way...telling your ships where to go and what to do. As in real life, though, your friends may be real buttheads. Some of them might not hate the enemy in which you are ensuing battle with...some of them won't even care if you get blown away while calling for their help. All this depends on their personalities, and their loyalty to you. For instance, if you "accidentally" launch a missile at your nearby friend, whose personality makes him "Disinterested" in allies, don't expect him to come rushing to your help. Likewise, you can make allies out of former enemies if you butter them up long enough (which is very difficult to do, since they usually get destroyed by then). Not only do specific ships have different persona, so do teams. Actually, what team a ship is dictates their main behavior (unless you use the Ship Factory; see way below), i.e. the chivalrous Knights won't break too many laws, while the Pirates will). Laws? Yes there are laws, but only when there are coppers around, or in this case, the Enforcers. If you break a code of laws, such as attacking a practically defenseless ship, destroy an icon, attack an Enforcer, and a dozen more laws, right while a patrolship is around, a rather dangerous Enforcer ship will attempt to "handcuff" your ship and drag it away to court. Of course you can have your space versions of high speed chases, which ultimately lead you or the Enforcer being blown to pieces. If the latter happens, expect a couple warships to make life REALLY nasty for you in the future. If you do get caught, the judge, as seen in the pic above, will fine you icons or take away items, depending on how many crimes you committed. One really entertaining thing to do is to see how long you can remain a fugitive and rack up a HUGE crime list :)
In the intro I said that you had to clear every icon in your system to beat the game, and I'm sure that causes some groans, as some drives have maybe a thousand icons, and only 8 appear in one excursion into Inner Space. There is another way, though. Once in awhile, the Inner Demon will pull you out and fight you in a little fantasy part of Inner Space, and if you can find out how to get the 4 Noble Weapons, you can beat the game. For those with a big hard drive, this is the fastest way to beat the game.
There are three different modes to this particularly unique game. The regular style, which is described above, or the duels and races, which happen in occasional directories. The duels, which happen in the directory "Dodge City" allow you to beat the hell out of one to three ships, any toughness you desire, and steal their items from their blazing hulls as you annihilate them. Sometimes, though, an enemy will think that you think you're hot s**t, and ask you to go to Dodge City to settle the score permanantely. This is immensely satisfying to the ego as you blow your nemesis away...trust me :).
Also, there are no rules, no Enforcers, no ambulances, no exits until one fighter is cosmic dust. Racing is the other mode in this game. Once in awhile, instead of flying thru Inner Space to collect your icons, you will race. Once the first place runner passes the finish line, the track borders will disappear, allowing the icons at the line but behind the border to be picked up. While the racing is fun, any smart person might figure out that 10 laps thru the toughest course is NOT worth the 8 max icons it produces (note that it can be 1, 5, or 10 laps, though). This will force the gamer to cheat in several ways. One of them is just to shoot the bloody hell out of the competitors...unfortunately the computer AI in this case thinks this is the space version of the Indy 500, and forgets it has guns :).
Another fun way for those who aren't so patient and dexterous, is to latch on handcuffs on the fastest runner so it can drag you around for the period of time. Lastly, and by far the most intelligent, is to just wait at the line and pick up the icons when the borders disappear...but this will bring the Enforcers about...
This fun game also doubles up as a screen saver, this is compatible with After Dark and Control Panel. You can configure it to play a demo of a normal game, duel or race...Fantastic! :)
The Ship Factory!
One of the most creative aspects of the game by far, the Factory allows you to design and build your own ships. As you can see in the pic, you pick the body and color, attributes such as how much armor, fuel, thrusters, etc., and behavior. Below, you can see how well the ship performs on a small race course, and you can get the specifics on the stats and how well it ranks up. If you are registered, you can draw your own ship bodies, and use all of the others supplied. Drawing your own ships, while a great idea, should have a lot more info on it (at least more than a paragraph), because I haven't had too much success with it. In short, this is a very excellent utility that makes Inner Space an even more interactive game. Drawing your own ships, while a great idea, should have a lot more info on it (at least more than a paragraph), because I haven't had too much success with it.
Summary of Pros
Simply put, this is an awesome action game. Adding a few elements of strategy and teamwork only makes it better. With the exception of StarControl, this is the funnest overhead space action game that I have ever played. There are also really nice details, such as how the game revolves on your computer...it will tell you "Good Morning" or whatever based on your time clock, and being able to go thru that normally boring hard drive is excellent! The game includes two help systems. One is the normal *.hlp file, and the other is an on-line help system which accompanies every object you want to know about with an animated picture. Very intuitive! Lastly, some game veterans who long for the days when there were games like Space Invader that continued on into infinity, but there are also some of us who want to beat a game for its ending. This game somehow satisfies both; those who want to keep on playing can go thru their rather huge hard drives and accumulate a large score, and those who want to win can beat the game via the Demon Gate. The only thing here is that the challenge factor doesn't increase after every wave :( A small pro of this game is the tiny space it occupies on your hard drive, 2 MB! I've seen Asteroid clones that take up 1 MB, nevermind having every feature that InnerSpace has. Today HDs can hold anything, but it's still amazing that a great looking game like InnerSpace can take so little space.
Summary of Cons
I hope there are a few upgrades, because there a few things that need to be worked out. Whenever you enter a directory, it will have a set of obstacles. SO say I enter my Windows directory with 300 icons, and to get them, I have to win a race. After I win the first one, and reenter the Windows directory, I will have to do another exact same race to get 8 more icons...and over and over. Lessee... 300/8icons per win * 5 minutes per laps equals about 3 hours of tedious racing. The thing that needs to be fixed is that obstacles need to change every WAVE, not directory. Speaking of 8 icons per wave...how about a max of 10 so we can complete those 100+ icon directories faster? Also, I wish the keyboard was configurable. Having to press buttons on the far side of the keyboard to change weapons, raises shields/cloak, was so cumbersome that I only used one weapon and rarely the cloak. Speaking of keyboard problems, sometimes the action gets so intense that I press buttons but nothing happens because the game is too occupied. Sort of annoying, but not that big of a problem. Another thing that should be fixed is when you pick a target, it should be highlighted on the radar. OK, I want to help my friend attack an enemy, but since there are about 5 ships in play, I have to run around until I find it, and by then it is too late. The final big con of this game is that there is less teamwork than I expected. Most of the time it was me solo while 5 ships from other teams attacked me all at once, and I usually didn't have more than one ally with me at any one time. It would be nice if you could be able to pick three or so ships to accompany you, and have big battles and totally decimate another team, instead of having to keep on fighting a limitless number of enemies that come in randomly. Also the racing should be a tad bit more competitive. like how about having the computer not sit around while I'm blowing them to bits? This last thing isn't a big gripe, but the ships aren't really fairly made up. I mean, I designed a ship that is extremely fast and maneuverable, while having the firepower and armor of a tank. How about making it more balanced? i.e. Fast ships with weak armor and weapons, dreadnoughts that move like a cow. It would enhance the replay value of this game greatly, because now that I designed the best ship that excels in everything, there is no point in playing again with an inferior ship.
Graphics: The 256 color graphics are great. I like the graphics of the cool ships; not only are they displayed small during play, but nice and big during profiles and cinemas. The way the color morphes on a ship when you choose colors in the Ship Factory is a really nice touch.
Acoustics: Pretty good here, ships being able to have their own custom sound effect is nice. What would really be neat is to have a full symphony orchestra for background music, heh :)
Gameplay: Intense. Finally, a game that lives up to its claims. I love the different modes, such as racing, so you can do more than the normal search for icons theme.
Overall, this game is a 9. Even with the large Con section, this game is not to be missed if you like that sort of space-action type of entertainment...it will keep you for hours.
Review By GamesDomain
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