Honoring the cheap-o spirit of 1950s monster movie filmmaking, the It Came From The Desert sequel Antheads patches the original game files to create a ludicrous new story about plutonium turning people into "antheads." This time around you're a tough lug, not a scientist. As outlaw Brick Nash, you seduce the sexy hospital nurse, and use your gun to blast the familiar residents of Lizard Breath, Calif., who are turning into mutants. Fortunately, a few slugs are just what these people need to revert to their usual, healthy selves. Fun for a while, though the writing and plotting is weak.
I have to say before I begin that It Came From The Desert was one of the most atmospheric and absorbing games of the last year. That said I'll say what I was going to say next and that is that Antheads is more of the same. This isn't a put down. If Desert 1 was an entertaining interactive computerised 50s sci-fi 'B' movie then Antheads is too, and just as good. What I'm trying to say is that it's more like a movie sequel than a game sequel, where the location is the same, the cast are similar, but the story is different.
Five years after the last adventure, it's January 1st 1956, and the rumours of the ants still linger in the small town of Lizard's Breath. This time, instead of the young two-fisted Professor of antology you played in Desert 1, you play the role of 'Brick' Nash, an ex-fighter pilot in the Korean war turned two-fisted truck driver. You were attacked by ants outside town and are being helped in your quest to find out what's happening by Dusty and Biff, survivors of the last epic. But there's more to it this time, as you discover when some of your best friends turn to ants before your eyes. You have to find the Prof's notebook, and fast, if you're going to stop it all happening over again.
There's a lot more to this all new game, and in some ways I enjoyed it more than the original game. The game comes on two disks, one of which is an new version of Reel 1, and a Master Disk which through a series of prompts copies and converts your Reels 2 & 3 from Desert 1 disks to Desert 2 disks. The music is the same, as that hasn't been overwritten, but there are lots of new graphics and new special effects to chill and delight you. The puzzles are not quite so obscure as the last game, but I think that's actually the game's weak spot. Like in order to find out a piece of information you just have to kill off the right amount of ant people. Illogical but not unentertaining for all that. The only quibble I'd have is the reoccurrence of the stupid game of 'Chicken' which turns up again in this game. What purpose does this serve, apart from a bit of 50s style local colour? Wouldn't these guys be a bit more grown up by now, and have gotten married and gone off somewhere? And besides that it's a subgame you can't win, so why bother? The knife fight is a bit of a naff idea, too. Why not a fist fight like in Rocket Ranger, that's much more satisfying. But these are minor design flaws, and don't detract from your enjoyment too much. I am getting a bit fed up of the graphic style of Cinemaware games, though. They are all the same, and sometimes I just yearn for a different style altogether.
But the great thing about Cinemaware games is that you CAN pootle through them, knowing nothing about the game objectives, and STILL have a rip-roaring time. Thinking about it, it would be nice to see, say, a Batman/Dark Knight, or Indiana Jones game done in this style of game. It would make a nice change from the usual half-baked arcade clones we're used to on licensed games. Any other kind of cinematic, TV or comic heroes, would benefit from this kind of treatment for that matter. How about Star Trek: The Next Generation. (Worth a thought, Cinemaware, if you're reading out there!)
So Antheads is in fact a better game than the original in my view, if only for the scary ant transformation sequence, and not just for fans of the original game. If anything it's an incentive to download the original, just to play this version as well.
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