You can fly around in Surface Tension, but it’s a game that has more in common with the Descent series of 3D shooters. For one thing, it’s set on the planet Mars, where you’re assigned several different missions, which can be completed in generally any order. The missions are interesting and varied: destroy something here, meet with an informant there, etc. I appreciated the fact that, on the easy level at least, there didn’t seem to be a clock ticking; just what this less-than-dexterous, methodical action gamer needs. Even things like “power ups” are believable; instead of finding extra missiles scattered about the landscape, for example, you find them at an ammo dump waiting for shipment.
The actual combat action is fairly simplistic, with lasers and missiles your primary tools; keyboard control is awful, but the game works amazingly well with a Microsoft Sidewinder. In many ways the gameplay reminds me of a cross between the old Rescue on Fractalus and Comanche: Maximum Overkill. The graphics, unfortunately, also seem to be a cross between these two games. While supposedly operating in hi-res, true-color modes, I found the visuals muddy at best, and sometimes downright poor. Video quality is also poor.
You might pick up the box and think, “Ehh, just another Descent action game, I’ll pass.” That was my first impression of Surface Tension as well, but as I got further into the game I was surprised to find some passable gameplay.
System Requirements: Pentium 90 MHz, 16 MB RAM, DOS
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