8-Bit Software Online Conversion

      By Andrew Black. U.I.M.-Ultra Intelligent Machine. By-The Fourth Dimension, P.O.Box 4444, Sheffield. Tel=(0742) 700661. Price=£19-95(5¼"), £21-95(3½"). Needs=B/B+(with 16k SWR),Master,Compact It is set in the future where the greenhouse effect has caused the polar ice caps to melt and plunged humanity underwater. Now in the ocean depths there are ports and networks. There are 256 ports in a network and 256 networks- quite a big one eh? Now comes the problem, back in the good old days, when the first pioneers went into the ocean, they built machines called Replicators. These machines were able to explore the depths of the ocean that *

the pioneers could not reach themselves and were able to reproduce copies of themselves. Unfortunately someting went wrong, the machines mutated and, guess what, they're out to destroy humanity. The solution to all of this is the UIM, which apparently knows the anwser to everything, but where is it? Your quest is to find the UIM and at the same time make as much money as you can. You are equipped initially with a submarine called a BLACK SATYAR and a low power generator (weapon); three of four missiles, a flare, a sea mine, low grade shields, and $400 Network Dollars. There are a number of ways of earning money; buying and selling on the commodities market, share dealings, currency exchange, industrial manufacturing, bounty hunting, piracy and missions. You must build up your cash reserves to buy more equipment *

for your ship to enable you to survive and find the UIM. One of the most important pieces of equipment is the central computer which allows you to load helpful modules such as navigational aids, mission modules etc. The layout of the screen is interesting, split into two, the upper half containing the actual game area and the bottom half radar displays, energy bars etc. The graphics used are vector and are certainly very good, without any flicker I might add. But the general comtrol of the craft is more difficult, it tends to jump around instead of flowing like ELITE. Travel between ports is a bit strange at first but you soon get used to it. After leaving the port press H and you are sent on a sub-orbital trajectory into the atmosphere, this is called re-entry*

You have to keep your craft on target using the control keys, if you don't your heat shield will disintegrate and you get the end of game message. You can buy another heat shield after yours has been worn away but preserving it saves money. There is a re-entry module that you can buy that, although it isn't perfect, it is a marked improvement on what I could do. Once you re-enter the water head for the marker buoy as fast as you can, you can engage in combat if you like, but you won't last long if you've just started. Once you are close enough to the buoy you will be docked automatically. The amount of equipment that is avaliable is quite amazing, all together about 31 pieces, plus there is other unlisted equipment you can get for doing missions. The mission module is perhaps the most important piece of equipment *

The missions are vital in the hunt for the UIM, these enable you to get onto the next network. The missions are of the fetch and carry variety. You can get rewards for doing these such as money or special equipment or sometimes nothing. But always on completion you are moved onto the next network. Combat is much the same as ELITE but you have more ways of defending and attacking. There are 4 different types of generators ranging from the most powrful to the weakest. There are flares that are supposed to distract enemy missiles, sea mines which you drop- you can blow yourself up if you are not careful. The radar display is a bit difficult to follow at first but you soon get the hang of it. ELITE and UIM are much alike, but there are some distinct differences, UIM for *

instance has a lot more going for it, the variety of equipment and so on. The sheer amount of work put into developing the game shows and the potential for it is enormous. Having said all that I feel that certain things cannot go unmentioned, the manual is not as always as clear as it could be, the general display is much more coarser, colours used are at times a bit sickly. And I am afraid that one of the most essential qualities for me is missing- Addictiveness. The game doesn't have you coming back for more as other games would, just to get that little bit further. After about a month or so of playing I have given it up as it no longer holds any interest for me. But that is only my opinion and I dare say a great many others will disagree, as for me its back to ELITE.