Spot the time saboteur
Reviewed by WINNIE CHUNG
The Journeyman Project For IBM and Macintosh CD-ROM PRESTO Studios has come up with the goodies in its ground-breaking game The Journeyman Project, touted as one of the most photorealistic role-playing adventures released in the past year.
The theme of the adventure - time travel - is quite popular with science fiction games at the moment and has been the basis of such well-known computerised jaunts as Lost In Time. However, The Journeyman Project takes the latter one step further with more sophisticated gadgetry and fancier artwork.
The game starts in 2318, in the skyborne metropolis of Caldoria. After the senseless wars of the 21st century, the world was finally unified in 2117 and is now at peace.
Humankind is approached by alien beings not long after with an invitation to join the ''Symbiotry of Peaceful Beings'', the main objective of which is for members to benefit from the sharing of knowledge and culture.
But, as history tells us, peace never lasts long. On the eve of the momentous occasion, a new discovery jeopardises everything mankind has striven for centuries to achieve . . . the time machine.
Realising that in the wrong hands the time machine could prove fatal because history could be re-written at the press of a button, the unified government sets up an elite guard corps called the Temporal Protectorate, whose job is to safeguard history from sabotage.
And this is where the player comes in. As a member of the Temporal Protectorate, you have to monitor the space/time continuum from the Temporal Security Annex, a top secret installation where the Pegasus, the only time machine known to exist, is located.
Because of the science fiction jargon, the game sounds a lot more complicated than it actually is. Sure, you have to get the hang of using things like the biochip panel and of the different functions of your biosupport suit, but once that is said and done, get ready for a fascinating flight.
Journeyman is basically a strategy game although Presto Studios has incorporated a little arcade action into it. There are various puzzles to be solved along the way and most of them have a time limit since your biosupport suit has a tendency to run out of energy, hence killing you.
The graphics of the game are impressive and many of the sequences are unusually smooth for a computer game. The music and sound effects are as good as anything you might hear in a cinema.
The CD-ROM includes 10 audio tracks that aren't used in the game but serve as sort of a soundtrack - and the cuts are quite good! However, the game does have some drawbacks, one of them being the speed (or lack of it) with which new scenes are loaded. Because most of the animation sequences are loaded from the CD as you play the game, you often must put up with blank screens in the middle of exciting sequences.
In the narrated introduction, the loading also tends to put the narrator's voice out of sync, with abrupt stops at odd junctures.
The action is slow too. To move from place to place you have to click-and-wait . . . each step forward taking about 10 to 20 seconds, an interminable wait if there is some hot action up ahead.
But the Journeyman is generally more challenging than frustrating, and overall is very enjoyable, not to mention impressive to watch.
The CD-ROM is playable on both Macintosh and IBM compatibles. You need a 256-colour capable Macintosh II, at least 8Mb of RAM and a running system of 6.07 or later.
Or you can play it on an IBM 386 DX-33 or better with 8Mb RAM and a Super VGA card capable of 640 x 480 256 colour Windows video driver and 512K video RAM.
MEGAHINT: An agent has no chance of restoring the proper flow of history without first comparing the unaltered Journeyman Log to its altered counterpart in order to learn the source of the temporal rip.
MEGAHINT: Keep an eye on your energy level and the clock if you are time travelling. Your biosupport suit has a tendency to run out of energy when you least expect it.