Tek - the review
Paul Johnson reviews the game of the year.
Tek is a cracking game. It is atmospheric, engrossing, highly playable and has just the right amount of complexity to keep most players interest. Artex has done a brilliant job getting the game to market.
TEK comes on a CD, with a very nice installer, that will copy all the files to your chosen directory, then it is just a case of double clicking and off you go.
This is very much a command and conquer style game. The basic idea is that there has been a Nuclear war and the drug to help people survive has been pinched by another company - and so the corporate wars begin. All of the narrative setting the scene includes video, some lovely graphics and scrolling text - very much like you get on PlayStations and PCs when they are introducing a game. However, unlike lots of PS and PC games, the intro is not overly long. It explains what's happened and what has to be done without long convoluted plot lines. If you're short on memory, this can be skipped (by altering the !Run file).
Once past this, you're presented with the standard sort of options (save, load, quit) and also if you want to play the practise mission or the real mission. I strongly recommend the practise mission to get the hang of things.
Unfortunately we now have a problem, the games graphics. The graphics prior to the actual game are fantastic. However those in the game are very stick like (for the soldiers). There is not enough animation and the soldiers are very much the sort of characters that you would have found in an early BASIC ZX Spectrum game (I think he is being unfair here -ED). Don't let that put you off though. When you consider the complexity and playability of the game, you'll soon see that these stick characters are more than good enough for what you need. Look at it this way; I started playing the game at about 11pm on the Saturday of Wakefield and thought this review would be a doddle - bad graphics etc etc etc. However, I realised at 1am on the Sunday that there was more to this than meets the eye!
The practise mission is fairly simple. You kill a couple of people and not much else. The game for real is a totally different affair.
You are able to build weapons, set up cameras to ensure your base is monitored, carry out raids, repair vehicles watch the fog and mists roll by (these are defined at the start of the game - how much fog do you want, the more the harder it is).
In all, there are 10 levels to get through before you can reach the end. I managed to get through to level 2 - just. The controls took a fair bit of getting used to and until you do, expect your men to fall down dead quite a lot.
One of the nice things about Tek though is that it should be possible to create your own levels as a quick dig around the application reveals that the descriptions of the levels seems to be a simple text file (not filetyped as text though). Okay, it will require Artex to reveal how to put the associated files together, but that should not be too large a hurdle. iD did it with Quake, Doom et al, it would be nice to see Artex do the same.
A problem dogged my review copy (and from looking at Usenet, dogged quite a few others). On my RiscPC, the game tended to hang for no apparent reason. I can appreciate the amount of time taken to produce this magnum opus of a game - software development of any sort of complexity is not an easy task (believe me!), however, there is nothing more irritating than having your game die part way through - especially as it always tended to happen mid battle. Artex have addressed this with a patch (which is in the Games section of the CD) that fixes this problem, but also gives you a much needed pause key - something the pre-patched version was definitely missing (any normal person will need a break from playing a very long game to do human type things such as dinner, drinks, dog walking and answering the phone when the editor of RISC World calls to see how the review is going on).
Level 1 is very basic. Nothing too difficult. A few pitched battles and it's over. From then on in, the game gets far harder, but with it, you do have the ability to set up spy cameras, monitor your own camp (keeping an eye on your own base is always a good idea). One interesting thing is that as long as you have money (credits) and a production plant, the game is never over; you can produce your own men! It is a fun little addition that you can have the men named when you first start (oddly, it looks like the programmers watched too much TV - the Simpsons are all in there...).
Plenty of puzzles, plenty of fun and action.
If you are only ever going to buy one game, make it TEK.