Ok so I thought I’d kick off September with another retro game feature; this time focusing on Mike Singleton’s supremely ambitious first-person action/strategy classic “Midwinter” – published by Microplay/Rainbird for Amiga/ST/DOS way back in 1989.n.
Though groundbreaking it’s vast scope and initial slight complexity curve ensured Midwinter probably reached a smaller audience than it deserved to, those that persevered would find themselves sucked into an enthralling mid-21st century Guerrilla War spanning across a vast playing area of over 160,000 square miles – completely unheard of for that time…
Midwinter’s environmental catastrophe based plot was great too; in the early 21st Century the Earth has cooled drastically after a devastating asteroid impact, billions have died with massive food shortages – with onset of a cataclysmic new ice age, arable farmland has been transformed into frozen wastes with humanity standing on the brink of absolute destruction. As the last throws of civilisation tears itself apart a few thousand survivors make a intrepid voyage, to reach an isolated new land mass and start again, where once were The Azores.
Fast forward 30 years and though the environment is still as harsh as ever the colony has eventually flourished – 4000 inhabitants spread across a network of small settlements, with Geothermal Heat Mines generating power and Synthesis plants and Factories provided the food and goods…. life is hard but good, and all is peaceful… that is until the arrival of General Masters and his army….
Midwinter’s actual gameplay involves traversing the 3d solid vector landscape, this is done via Ski’s, Snow Buggy, Hand-Glider or Cable Car. Starting off with one character you must cross the gloomy wastes, seek out and recruit other members in order to quickly mobilise an effective resistance (you can manage up to 32 different characters each with different skills/attributes). Once you’ve started to build your small army you can plot your strategy – decide to engage enemy patrols head on, ambush enemy fuel tankers? or adopt a scorched earth policy to slow there progress…. Yes the game went on for hours and hours, and there were many ways to either loose or complete it…
Although the 3d graphics may look crude today Midwinter contained many innovations for it’s time including first-person-sniping! plus directional audio; you could track an attacking vehicles position as your character turned left and right! Also extremely cool was the games GUI which featured loads of great descriptive icons, character portraits, and location backdrops, all really adding to the atmosphere…
Anyway so there you go… if you’ve never heard of Midwinter, and lets face it 20 years on there’s a fairly good chance you haven’t – you may wonder what all the fuss is about…. Well IMHO you’ve missed out!
if ever there was a game that deserves a contemporary remake then this is it – truly, truly amazing stuff!
To read more about Midwinter try:
Images via http://www.mobygames.com