This fine adventure set in Britain after a nuclear holocaust comes in 48K and 128K versions; they're very similar but the 128K version has longer location descriptions and EXAMINE reports. And the solution to the larger-memory game is subtly different in a number of ways-enough to have you scratching your head if you attempt both versions. More obviously, the character sets are different too, and I preferred the less elaborate but more readable set of the 48K version.
The Gods Of War is rather a good game by any standards, with a reliable, if overused, theme. The story is better than the usual doomsday scenario - there's even a bit of north-versus-south, with many curious twists, thrown in for good measure.
A global nuclear war has destroyed our civilisation. Over the years the survivors have moved away from the ruins and established a new Dark Ages culture, where the old nuclear warheads represent the earthbound forms of the gods.
The player enters the game two years after a race of Mutts (mutants) have invaded the Southern Kingdoms of England and conquered them using ancient sorcery - all technology is seen as sorcery. These Mutts now threaten the final free kingdom in the north of Britain, which will be destroyed unless their plans are thwarted. The player's quest is to frustrate the Mutts' attempt to rule the north, ensuring its freedom so it can eventually go on to liberate the invaded kingdom in the south.
Many of the game's strengths derive from Gilsoft's Professional Adventure Writer, with which it was written. The Gods Of War has an excellent response time, superb manipulation of vocabulary, and the kind of location descriptions and elaborations of plot which come easily to a 128K PAW adventure.
But this is not to belittle the authors' input - the writing style is very good, and only the occasional grammatical slip-up has got past the proofreading stage. Adjectives abound, as in this 48K-version answer to OPEN HATCH (you rather groaningly begin with a hatch key!): 'The ancient hatch lifts open with a protesting screech breaking the seals on the ancient portal. The stale stench of death rushes up from the ancient hatch making you retch.'
And we get some indication of the clever story line, as well as of the effectiveness of the EXAMINE command, in this 128K-version excerpt taken from after EXAMINE MONEY at the Druid's Tax Collectors Camp: 'There are several round discs in them, the usual currency found in the kingdoms, and some nuggets and jewellery. They are made of plastic, an ancient material forged in the cauldrons of the Ancient Ones and very valuable due to its scarcity outside the ruins. More people gained possession of plastic after the Mutts conquered the Southern Kingdoms. They brought great quantities with them to trade in the villages and ale houses where their currency, heavy, strangely inscribed metal discs, are of no use. The money then made its way to the North via further trade.'
The game's vocabulary is generally very flexible, with SEARCH available as well as EXAMINE (EXAMINE DRUIDS gives 'They are dead all right' while SEARCH DRUIDS gives 'Some money falls from the Druid's cloak onto the ground'), and a choke of TAKE or GET; but it's worth noting the difference between IN and INTO, and how the 48K game can be a touch the fussier, understandably so.
The Gods Of War is a very fine PAW game, especially well-constructed on the 128. There is good use of colour in the text, which neatly and smartly scrolls up, leaving the picture above intact. The number of pictures isn't great and they are not brilliantly artistic, but at least they're detailed.
The repeated chariot sequence can become a drag, but a sense of humour - as when a sign is examined about halfway through the first part of this three-parter - helps alleviate the boring bits. EXAMINE SIGN gives 'It is written in ancient runes and reads: British Nuclear Fuels Ltd welcomes you to the Sellafield complex public relations rooms.
Please note the management will not accept responsibility for any mutations/cancers contracted during your visit.' Nebula Designs is a design house hoping to find someone to market The Gods Of War; in the meantime it can be had direct from Nebula at 112 Upperwoodlands Road, Bradford, West Yorkshire BD8 9JE.
DIFFICULTY: not difficult
GRAPHICS: a fair sprinkling, OK
PRESENTATION: good coloured text
INPUT FACILITY: complex PAW
RESPONSE: very quick
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