Morlo leapt the final divide as the first disc slammed into the wall. As he landed, instinct was all that stopped the second disc from hitting home. The third he never saw, never had the chance to block. It hit hard and burned hot and every breath of air was blown from his aching body. Across the court cruel laughter echoed from his opponent. Then in a split second of silence a single bead of sweat fell from his tortured face and dripped slowly down on to the last remaining tile. He knew this had to be the one, and with a final desperate lunge his only chance hurtled across the divide. The smug expression of his opponent turned instantly to one of shock as she frantically tried to stop the unstoppable. This final desperate scramble was no more than a vain gesture and as the wall smashed into a thousand shards of exploding crystal her shock turned to horror as infinity appeared beneath her feet.
A scream rang out as she plummeted into the abyss... this is Disc. When describing an essential simple game it's difficult to convey the emotions, excitement and desperate struggles it contains. Hopefully this little monologue will give you a taste of what lurks within perhaps one of the best action strategy games of the year.
After loading and choosing the number of players the next task is to select the character of your choice. Initially all eight available players start at the rank of novice, this of course can change if you successfully challenge your peers in the arena. There doesn't seem to be any difference between individuals, so it's purely a case of which particular persona you want to take on. As all of the eight are men, this was a rather tricky decision for yours truly.
Once your choice is made it's time to pick a particular challenge. This can vary between training, challenge, tournament or championship. The training option is an essential for the newcomer as throwing, aiming and blocking need to be second nature if you want to make any progress through the rankings. Once your training is complete it's time to take on the opposition. In the two-player game the choice is limited solely to your opponent, but the singles championship mode is probably best for the beginner, as it pits you initially against opponents of similar skill.
As you progress your rank will improve, but unfortunately so does that of your opponents. The tournament option is perhaps the fastest way to glory, but be warned, if the gods are against you, your first match could have you facing a champion or perhaps even a great guide. As with the championship game, your ranking improves as you progress, the only problem is you might not live long enough to enjoy your new-found fame. The last option is a straight challenge so, for example, if you've just lost a close contest you could set the record straight without the hassle of facing a whole bunch of bad guys before you get to your man. Challenging isn't limited to players of similar skill, so if you feel lucky you could go straight to the top and by beating a high ranking player instantly leapfrog the rest of the field.
The gameplay is the real strength of Disc, being a combination of action and strategy. This combination has already been proved a winner this year by the massively popular Lemmings. This may seem a rather strange comparison, but nevertheless there's definitely a similarity between the two. Disc is certainly fast and furious, but if logical strategy isn't applied along with some fast reactions your challenge will definitely be a short one.
The game is simple and not a million miles away from the arcade classic Tron. The aim is simply to survive, and to do it you must either deprive your opponent of all of his or her body points or alternatively send them screaming into the abyss by destroying the tiles on which they stand and which make up their end of the court.
To do the damage you hurl discs across the void. If your opponent is struck a body point is lost. However, if the disc is defended you become the one under attack and as the weapon ricochets back across the court it's your turn to defend. If a disc is thrown which neither strikes the player nor is defended it will inevitably hit your opponent's wall and this is where the strange shapes and symbols come into play. The number of sides on each symbol tells how many hits are left on its particular panel. When a circle is struck the tile disappears and its counterpart on the floor of the court vanishes. There is a slight pause beforehand, but if you're too slow it's game over...
Some games have as many as four discs in play. As you can imagine, things can become just a little confusing as they bounce around the walls slamming into tiles and players alike. If you can't keep a track on which have been thrown, rebounded or defended finding out can be a painful experience. The only way to defend yourself and your precious platform is to deflect your aggressor's incoming arsenal with a defensive disc, the only use of which is to protect you and your wall. Once defended, a disc is on the attack and if it returns undefended it can be caught and launched at the target of your choice. Various bonus discs become available intermittently thanks to special tiles which appear at random. If hit they endow a specific ability such as speed, added power and so on to your discs for a limited period.
Two player perfection
Disc is a rare beast, not only is it excellent as a solo challenge but it becomes even more impressive as a two-player contest. The human v human option is one of Disc's real strengths, putting it easily on par with such two-player classics as Kick Off. The two-player game differs from the rest as it's played over several legs, with victory only being secured by two wins in a row. Each player takes turns at either end of the court as apposed to the single game which always places the human player closest to you. Against a machine it's good, against a screaming, yelling and often swearing human it's even better.
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