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Void (Palm) May 8, 2000

From the maker of TankPilot comes another vector-based game and much like Tank Pilot takes its gameplay from Battlezone, Void takes its gameplay from such classic games as Elite and Wing Commander: Privateer. The end result is a space trading game where you, the intrepid space ace, fly around across the galaxy, trading goods for favorable prices and blasting anyone who gets in your way.

The impressive vector graphics that gave TankPilot fast and smooth gameplay make a reappearance in Void. Vector graphics are fast, and hearken back to the day when all the best games used vector graphics (such as the original Asteroids and Tempest). Although they lack some detail, it is more than enough for the purposes of spaceflight, fighting against polygonal ships. The status screen below the cockpit view provides a wealth of information, and even allows you to select different weapons, such as lasers and missiles. The radar is especially helpful when dogfighting. A nice graphical touch is the starfield moves as you fly around, allowing you to more accurately judge your movement and position.

The game world is absolutely enormous. With over 400 planets, all with "randomly generated" races (with very silly descriptions, I might add), it would be difficult if not impossible to chart them all. The handy starchart allows you to "hyperspace" between different planets so you can trade your wares. Fans of SolarWars should be familiar with this modus operandi. There are various goods (some of which are illegal) such as Rare Artifacts, frozen DNA, and simple Minerals and Ore that you buy low and sell high in order to turn a profit (of "credits", the currency du jour in sci-fi games).

However, the gameplay is not limited to merely trading and random dogfights. The game is very freeform, in that you can play as a trader, a mercenary, a bounty hunter, or pirate simply by choosing which strategy you wish to pursue. There is also a ranking system that determines what kind of missions you can take and what kind of goods you can trade in. Every trade, kill, and mission you complete adds "experience" for your ranking, adding further depth to an already complex game. The ship upgrades, while limited, are absolutely essential for extended play in the Void universe and are satisfying to purchase because you buy the upgrades with your hard-earned credits.

Despite all the wonderful aspects of this game, there are a few flaws. The controls on the Palm are not suited for 3D gaming, as seen in Raygin and TankPilot. The player tolerates it, but never gets quite used to it. Someone should write support for the Gotype or Palm Portable Keyboard to improve the control (perhaps as a Hackmaster Hack), but for now, Palm gamers are stuck with what they've got. The game is also difficult to get into... you start with very little in the way of credits or initial weaponry (the puny laser you start with does not count). The fact that one missile can destroy your ship makes it hard to progress in the game without superior flying skills. My suggestion is playing the "Trade only" mode for a while so you can get the gist of the game and the controls. No option to save your game also increases the difficulty, though I imagine that this will be changed in future versions (or maybe I haven't found it yet... that's how huge this game is).

Still, Void is a phenomenal game. It achieves high standards in graphics, gameplay, and game depth that cannot be found in any other game. Try this game out... I guarantee you will be amazed, if not hooked. Now if you will excuse me, I have another shipment of frozen DNA to deliver.

Final rating: 5 out of 5 stars


Title: Void
Publisher: Giles Goddard
Summary: A vector-based spaceflight trading game
The Good: Polished vector graphics engine, freedom of movement, massive game world
The Bad: Difficult at first, control suffers on Palm
The Ugly: The description of alien races... "A race of small furry animals known for being clean"?

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