Traffic Department 2192 is a little known underdog game from Safari Software. It's focused around an original storyline and dialogues, combined with fierce action sequences.
You are Lt. Velasquez, a pilot in the Seche Traffic Department, an organization which now serves as the people's army in repelling the invading Vultures. Velasquez has a personal grudge against the Vultures because, when she was a small child, they destroyed her father's hoverskid as he was returning from a long mission. The game progresses through a complex storyline with many twists and turns with well-rounded action sequences in the middle.
The game comprises three distinct episodes. Episode Alpha: Process of Elimination, Episode Beta: Cyborg Psychosis, Episide Gamma: Ultimatum. Episode Alpha was initially released as shareware, though it was later released commercially, with the remaining episodes being available for purchase.
Traffic Department 2192 is a three-part top-down shooter. As with many games of its time, the first episode was released as shareware, with the last two only available for purchase. All up, the game contains 59 missions to complete.
The story is what makes this game really stand out for its time. The game is set on the planet Seche in 2192, where there is a 25-year-old war between the Traffic Department and an attacking race called the Vultures. You play Marta Velasquez, whose father was killed by the Vultures in front of her while returning from garrison duty 14 years before. She joined the Traffic Department to avenge her father's death, and the story picks up just before a routine convoy destruction mission.
Before and after each mission you are shown a few conversations between the game's characters to advance the plot. What starts off as a fairly simple TD vs Vultures war rapidly develops into a far more complex story involving betrayal from within, a third race of creatures and political factions within each race. Over the course of the game, you move to different cities and even to a moon. The story is what makes you want to keep playing, and it's the game's saving grace because the gameplay itself is rather ordinary.
The game comes with two options for the script, an original "uncut" version and an edited version. You have to select one each time you start the game. The language in the original version really isn't that strong though - changes include making "to hell with" into "to r'ox with" and "damn headaches" into "those headaches". Strangely enough, the phrase "you duranium dildo" is left in both versions!
Gameplay is, unfortunately, pretty basic. You use the cursor keys to move your ship and the space bar to fire. You have a small number of missiles you can fire, but these are rarely needed. The only other feature of your ship is night-vision mode, which is forced on you in some missions and simply turns the whole screen into shades of red. You get to fly a few different craft during the game, each of which has its own speed, weaponry and shield/hull strength.
Your mission objectives are given to you by a targeting mark around your ship, which points to something and indicates whether you should blow it up (red), protect it (green), or go there (cyan). Unfortunately in search-and-destroy missions there's no way to change what it targets, so you can be trying to battle a couple of enemy ships right next to you while the targeting mark stubbornly points at something in the far corner of the level. At least there is a full-screen map you can switch to in order to identify more local targets.
There are only a few basic mission types: kill everything in sight, protect one or more ships (often by killing everything else in sight), or get somewhere without getting killed. Most of the missions are fairly straightforward, although some of the protection missions can be a pain. The AI is also very basic; enemy ships will tend to fly laps around a building so even bosses can be defeated by just flying forward and backward on one side while holding down the space bar.
The game's graphics are standard VGA. Missions look fine, and the characters' faces in the cutscenes are well drawn. All the cutscenes are static; there's no animation. Music is okay as well. It's basic Adlib music, but there are a few different tunes and it doesn't become annoying. The sound effects are just of weapons fire and things blowing up; there's no in-game speech.
All up, this is a fairly entertaining game that should keep you occupied for a few hours each episode. It hasn't exactly got the most in-depth gameplay, but you'll keep playing just to see what happens next in the story. Definitely worth a look.
Traffic Department offers fast arcade action with a story that unfolds as you play. The setting is in a dark city of the future remniscent of Mad Max. As Lieutenant Velasquez, you must defend a city from oncoming attackers in hoverskids, helicopters, and other futuristic vehicles. Each episode of TD features many missions, with the plot continues to evolve until you reach the conclusion. It's a great game like its spiritual prequel Highway Hunter, with an even better plot and graphics.
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