REVIEWS COURTESY OF ZXSR

Total Eclipse
by Major Developments: Ian Andrew, Chris Andrew [2], Stephen Northcott
Incentive Software Ltd
1988
Crash Issue 60, January 1989   (1988-12-15)   page(s) 32,33

EAT YOUR HEART OUT INDIANA JONES

This is the picture - you are standing beside your 1930s biplane in the Sahara desert, overshadowed by one of the great pyramids. A firm believer in the occult, you've been alarmed by learning of a curse laid on this place. The pyramid was built in ancient times with a special chamber at its Apex for the ancient Egyptian sun-god, Re. The sole reason for its construction was as a curse on the people who had revolted against the High Priest. And if anything should obscure the sun's rays during daylight hours the curse will be fulfilled and the Moon explode.

Now here's your problem: a total eclipse of the sun is due in just two hours time. Your thankless task is to find Re's shrine and destroy it before the eclipse brings about a catastrophic disaster. Your equipment for this task is about the best the 1930s could provide: a revolver, wrist watch, compass, and water bottle, which can be topped up from water troughs found inside the pyramid.
The many rooms of the pyramid (all portrayed in glorious Freescape) contain many objects, including chests of treasure, jewels and Ankhs - special symbols which can be used to open the barriers on some of the doors. Stairways allow access to higher levels of the pyramid, but the route to the shrine is a tortuous one which can only be completed by solving a variety of mysterious puzzles.

Time may be your worst enemy in this quest, but is not your only one: poisoned dart booby-traps can prove fatal, while falling off high ledges isn't too healthy either. Your health is shown by a heart, the faster it beats the nearer a fatal heart attack. If you want you can slow it down by resting, a special function which speeds up time until your health's restored. The Freescape technique was impressive in Driller and Dark Side, but Total Eclipse uses it to its full potential, creating a sinister, claustrophobic atmosphere to suit the Egyptian scenario. The pyramid is full of nasty surprises and mysteries that will take a long time to discover. In fact I think Total Eclipse is probably the best Freescape game yet, with much more attention paid to deep game content. This is one that should keep you playing until you complete it.
PHIL ... 92%

THE ESSENTIALS
Joysticks: Cursor, Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: the Freescape solid 3-D is just as impressive as ever, but seems slightly faster (5-10%) than in its predecessors
Sound: no tunes, but some good, informative effects


'First there was Driller, then came Dark Side, and now Total Eclipse is set to blow the socks off the gamesplaying fraternity. And being an Incentive game the Freescape technique is as stunning as ever. I must say that I was slightly surprised that the futuristic scenario present in the last two games has been changed to an Indiana Jones-type adventure. The same devious puzzles and traps survive, though, and the old grey matter is given some tricky situations to sort out. But then CRASH readers are a brainy bunch so you shouldn't have too much trouble. Total Eclipse is a brilliant game which gives Incentive a hat trick of successes, well done guys.'
MARK ... 95%

'The only way is up, and to get there you have a colossal but thoroughly enjoyable task in this new Incentive Freescape game. As you should all know by now, the Freescape technique makes for fantastic gameplay and whatever idea Incentive put into one of these games, it's bound to be a hit. Total Eclipse is no exception, the idea of exploring a pyramid to find the shrine of the sun-god Re has great potential, and with a time limit of two hours the excitement and addictiveness soon mounts. Once you have a basic understanding of what all the weird hieroglyphics mean, and what function they perform, you can begin to get somewhere in the game. Fortunately, you can always save your position (to tape or disk) and continue when you feel like it (and it will take more than one go to complete). Total Eclipse is bigger than its predecessors but, in my opinion, doesn't beat the playability of Dark Side. Still, there's plenty more Freescape action to get stuck into with Total Eclipse and it should keep you occupied for quite a while. Incentive have done it again!'
NICK ... 93%

Presentation90%
Graphics93%
Sound58%
Playability93%
Addictive Qualities92%
Overall93%
Summary: General Rating: The third Freescape game takes a new theme and is - probably - the most playable so far.

Award: Crash Smash

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 37, January 1989   page(s) 116,117

Pure pleasure, this. I was just hanging around the office in my "any games you want reviewin', guv" mode, when lo! the new Freescape game from Incentive came through the door and I was the first to get hold of it. Ya ha! Try getting it back now, suckers!

After Driller and Dark Side whizzed us off to galaxies far away, Total Eclipse brings us right back down to earth (and I don't mean Evath). In fact, Egypt is the setting, and you, sho' nuff, are an Egyptologist (Come again? Ed). Let's hit some history here.

(Deep voice with huge echo). It is written that in the days of ancient Egypt the High Priest of Re, the God of Sun (I thought Re was a drop of golden sun, myself, but never mind), placed a curse on his people because he'd lost at poker or something (our ancient documents are a little sketchy on this point). So, being a quick-thinking sort of geezer, he instantly had an enormous pyramid built, and in the topmost chamber a shrine was installed to Re, the aforementioned deity. The curse was that if anything ever blocked the sun's rays during daylight hours, it would be destroyed.

Trouble is, 2500 years later, you've just discovered that there's going to be a total eclipse of the sun in, well, two hours. If the moon is destroyed, all sorts of terrible things will happen - tidal waves, new ice age, and another series of 'Cheggers Plays Pop.' Yup, you've got to save the world.

How you do this is by finding your way through a reet fiendish maze of rooms, chock full of puzzles and treasure and the occasional dart-throwing meanie? The treasure is of course there for the blagging, and the success of your mission is measured by how much you grab as well as whether you save the world or not. (It's a mercenary life, isn't it?) You're equipped with your trusty revolver, with loads of bullets, your wristwatch (to tell you when the world is going to blow up), a water bottle which you'll need to keep topped up (thirsty equals dead in this game), and a compass, which comes in remarkably useful when you're trying to make a map. 'Cos, believe me, you will be trying to make a map from the first moment you load this up...

Yes, Total Eclipse is a mappers' paradise, more so even than The Dark Side. Each room has several exits, but some are high beyond reach and others blocked off. Some blocked doors can be opened with Ankhs, which lie around the place and can be easily picked up. Others need a more ingenious approach if you're to get past the block and through the door, and no, a blast doesn't usually work. Water troughs slake that deadly thirst, while sarcophaguses are usually more perilous than meets the eye.

As always with these games, there are a lot of keys to memorise, but somehow you get used to it. As well as just walking and turning, you can look up, look down, crouch and then stand up again, do a U-turn and even change your step size. Pressing R makes you rest a while - useful, this, as it helps calm your heart - you don't want to have a coronary, do you?

The idea in the end is to rise to the top of the pyramid through the maze. It's reet tricky - I've been playing this for hours and I'm nowhere even close. Height above the ground is measured in cubits - you start at 24, you want to get to 72. Too many times you get yourself to a decent height and then find yourself plummeting through a hole in the floor. It's often a good idea to keep an eye on things down below.

The game plays very similarly to The Dark Side, although with the much smaller areas you're moving through, the atmosphere is quite different. Think of Mercenary combined with Knight Lore and you're not far off. The emphasis is on puzzle-solving rather than blasting, and the graphics are, as ever, immaculate. The Freescape technique opens up huge areas of gameplaying that until now were denied us, and it's to Incentive's credit that the games are as clever and enjoyable as the format deserves. A hit, sir, a palpable hit!


Graphics9/10
Playability9/10
Value For Money10/10
Addictiveness10/10
Overall9/10
Summary: Yet another superb Freescape game from Incentive. These people just seem streets ahead of the competition.

Award: Your Sinclair Megagame

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 82, January 1989   page(s) 42,43

In the beginning, there was Driller Then, a bit later, there was Darkside. Now, even later than that, there's Total Eclipse. What do they all have in common? Freescape, Incentive's revolutionary 3-D display system which lets you explore every aspect of the gameplay area from every angle, that's what.

The plot of Total Eclipse is a bit more down to-earth than the science fictiony Darkside and Driller. This one's set in the 1930's, and your task is to explore an Egyptian pyramid and destroy the shrine of the sun-god Re. Oh, did I mention, the world is going to be destroyed by lunar meteorites if you don't manage it in two hours? Well it is.

The Freescape backgrounds are, as usual, excellent; each separate chamber is shown in a single colour, with rampways, stairs, treasures, mysterious objects and doorways liberally scattered throughout. To move through locked doors you need to collect Ankh symbols; to please your bank manager, pick up treasure; to keep yourself in good health, find water troughs and keep an eye on your heart rate.

It's important to explore every inch of the chambers, the perspective view shifting as you move around. You can also shift your viewpoint up or down, crouch or stand, and choose your speed of walking. Watch out for unexpected falls: too many jumps off stairways, and crying for mummy won't do you any good.

Interaction with objects consists mainly of shooting them; activate your sights with the space bar and you can aim at and shoot any object. Try shooting the eye on the wall for a useful clue, or the casket for a helpful object.

While the pretty glyphs on either side of the main display serve no function at all, the gubbins at the bottom of the screen is invaluable. The wristwatch shows you the remaining time until the eclipse, and zooms forward if you hold down key R to rest. The water bottle shows your remaining supply, while the heart beats in time with your pulse. If it starts palpitating violently, it's time to take a rest, or you may die of a heart attack. The continuous sound effect of the heart beating is the only annoying aspect of the otherwise satisfactory sound effects.

So far, there's little chance of me winning; usually, I run out of water, at which point you die and get treated to the sight of the moon exploding.

Total Eclipse is a fabulous game playing experience, but it must be said that if you have already played Driller and/or Darkside you may find it a bit samey. Like the Ultimate Filmation games, which started off as astonishing and ended up as dead boring WITHOUT ACTUALLY DECREASING IN QUALITY, Freescape games might have a fairly short life span. So get 'em while they're hot.

Label: Incentive
Author: Major Developments
Price: £9.95/£14.95 disc
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins


Graphics89%
Sound60%
Playability89%
Lastability90%
Overall88%
Summary: Technically good but samey 3-D adventure.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

ACE Issue 16, January 1989   page(s) 86,87

Incentive walk like an Egyptian.

Anyone who hasn't heard of the Freescape programming system must have been living on the moons of Evath for the last 18 months. In the hands of the creative team at Incentive it turns out solid 3D environments in which all manner of adventures have been taking place.

Take a wander back in time to 1930, to a world in peril. Mankind is threatened by an ancient curse - if, at any time of the day, the sun is prevented from shining on an Egyptian shrine at the top of a pyramid, whatever prevents the light from reaching the shrine will go boom. Unfortunately there's about to be an eclipse, and that means it's the moon that is going to go boom, causing an awful lot of life-terminating problems for the people on Earth.

Being a right little Indiana Jones, you've flown in by biplane to the pyramid and are going to have a crack at getting to the shrine and removing the curse. All before the eclipse happens and the tea gets cold in the pot.

As well as the Freescape view of the surroundings, the main display contains a number of informative icons. The top of the screen shows the number of Ankhs being carried (these ancient artifacts act as keys) and the value of treasure collected, and contains a picture that shows how near the eclipse is. At the bottom of the screen a message window gives details of the location and reports on events as they happen, and below that is a watch that shows exactly how much time remains before disaster strikes, a water-bottle, a heartbeat meter, and a compass.

There are a number of ways of goofing things up on the quest - such as running out of time, agitating your heart so that you have a heart attack, or encountering an instantly terminal trap. The heartbeat is speeded up by falling off things, running out of water or getting attacked by the automatic defence systems.

The overall mission objective is to get to the shrine at the top of the pyramid, but in order to provide an ongoing measure of progress (and make the adventure worthwhile) treasure can be picked up along the way.

The puzzles are similar in nature to those in Driller, but everything is much more compact. It's not a matter of exploring large open areas, but one of mapping a complicated maze of rooms packed with objects. Much of the uneventful travel between places that you have in Driller and Dark Side is eliminated, concentrating both the mind and gameplay.

Your "interface" with objects is again conducted in two main ways: shoot them or walk up to them. There's the same freedom of movement to look up and down, crouch or do U turns and there is also a handy option to re-orientate yourself to face forward - it saves a lot of time spent messing about after having a good look round a room.

The early rooms are full of relatively easy puzzles to solve, getting you comfortably into the action. It's not just a matter of finding one correct solution either... there are a number of ways of solving most situations, giving a welcome flexibility to the gameplay.

It's hard to go wrong with the Freescape system, which is ideally suited for producing absorbing games. Total Eclipse is nearer to a standard arcade adventure than the previous games in terms of exploration and puzzle solving, and Freescape gives it the winning edge.

Reviewer: Bob Wade

RELEASE BOX
Spectrum, £9.95cs, £14.95dk, Out Now
Amstrad, £9.95cs, £14.95dk, Out Now
C64/128, £9.95cs, £12.95dk, Imminent
16-bit versions under development

Predicted Interest Curve

1 min: 80/100
1 hour: 85/100
1 day: 90/100
1 week: 92/100
1 month: 70/100
1 year: 20/100


Graphics7/10
Audio2/10
IQ Factor7/10
Fun Factor6/10
Ace Rating902/1000
Summary: Freescape isn't as initially exciting these days, but there's all the addiction and challenge you can handle.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

The Games Machine Issue 14, January 1989   page(s) 82,83

Spectrum 48/128 Cassette: £9.95, Diskette: £14.95
Amstrad CPC Cassette: £9.95, Diskette: £14.95

OCCUPATION OCCUPATION

With Driller and Dark Side to their name, Incentive have wallowed in success since the birth of Freescape. With a 15% speed increase and more rooms (50 in all), the Freescape series looks even greater heights.

The origins of Total Eclipse lie back in the mists of time when Egypt was a mighty nation and its rule was respected throughout the Mediterranean. The people of the land, tired of the many sacrifices made to their Sun God, rebelled. Their resistance resulted in a curse from the High Priest.

The curse wasn't a mild pestilence or shower of locusts, but centred around a massive pyramid with a shrine dedicated to the Sun God at its top. If the sun was ever eclipsed, the curse would cause the moon to explode - its remains bombarding Earth with deadly results. Since then the curse has fortunately remained dormant.

Bringing us to more modern times, Oct 26 1930, you, as an explorer, are in the right place but unfortunately at the wrong time. Two hours away from the end of the world, the moon inches its way across the sky towards a total, and very final, eclipse.

Beginning next to your trusty biplane, entering the pyramid causes the claustrophobic world of ancient Egypt to come to life through modern day Freescape technology. Sarcophaguses, treasure chests, stairways, water troughs and other artifacts of ancient Egypt origin await your inspection. Although treasure isn't the priority, it doesn't hurt to pick some up along the way. Collecting ankhs is similarly beneficial as they are keys to further locations.

PEER AMID THE DESERT SANDS

For protection, you are armed with a limitless-ammunition pistol. Although there aren't many mummies or scarab beetles to be found in the pyramid, the gun comes in handy for other things: matching hieroglyphics, when shot in sequence, open doorways, and treasure chests are shot open for the prizes within.

Other than the impending doom of the planet, you can die through dehydration (avoided by filling your water bottle from troughs) or suffering a heart attack (your heart beat increases should you be exposed to poison or fall from ledges). Resting calms the heart but time is always moving on - the total eclipse draws ever nearer.

Played in real-time, Total Eclipse shouldn't pose any immediate problems for veterans of the previous Freescape games. It follows the same pattern in style and use of commands, but it's the puzzles which bring out the best in the game. With its puzzle-orientated gameplay and down-to-earth setting, the realism and sense of atmosphere are faultless.

And puzzles aren't restricted to separate chambers but expand as you progress. A number of neighbouring rooms can make up one big puzzle and often hieroglyphics have to be matched to force open doorways to new regions. The presence of trip wires and pressure pads provide an unseen form of hazard and can lead to much tearing out of hair.

Total Eclipse is the best yet from Incentive. The puzzles, tricks and traps of an Egyptian tomb merged with the incredibly atmospheric 3-D solid graphics of Freescape make it a magical experience - a program not to be missed.


Overall91%
Summary: Driller now looks positively slow in comparison with the latest in the Freescape series. As in Dark Side, the monochromatic design of each chamber adds immensely to atmosphere and creates a frighteningly realistic game as a result. This is heightened by the simple but highly effective sound of your heartbeat.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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