You know what I think of the people who live in the Gamma system? I'll tell you. The/re a bunch of ungrateful camel spankers. Every last one of them. Thankless lizard baiters. Low down cheating giraffe wobblers, whatever one of those is. And do you know why7 Because after saving the entire system from oblivion in Mercenary II, they rewarded our hapless mere by bunging him in a time warp prison. Makes your Wood boil doesn't it? Scumbags.
So, when they finally let you out, guess what they ask you to do? Help them out again, that's what. The nerve of it all. It seems that a sinister Mr P C Bil has risen to power and is on the verge of being elected Supreme Big Cheese of the entire cosmiverse (and Denmark). If this happens he'll use his new found political muscle to get away with all sorts of underhand shenanigans. So, fellow mercenaries, all you have to do is to scupper his plans one way or another.
There are several ways to throw a spanner in the works, as there always are in these vast exploring-type games. The game rather handily comes with a hint pack that contains several hints on the ways to win. The most obvious solution is to become a presidential candidate yourself and get elected instead of Bil. This involves signing on as a candidate, organising your campaign and then waiting for the people to choose. However, life in the public eye means that you must keep your nose clean and follow the election rules or you'll be disqualified.
It's a pity that Bil doesn't have the same sense of fair play really. He'll constantly try to ruin your reputation, and even try to tempt you into a life of rock and roll gambling on his casino planet, Bacchus. The fiend. This is the easiest route to success - others involve much more subtle plan-rung and strategy. How about sabotaging his mining operations, bankrupting his casino, locking him in a specially built prison or taking on his fleet of combat craft and shooting your way to victory? There's also a secret solution that only the cleverest players will discover, and it's this one that will shower you with the fruitiest dividends. And I've no idea what it is.
As in Damocles (Mercenary II, fact fans), you have complete freedom of movement around the Gamma system and all its planets, moons and outside lavvies. The big switcharoo here is that while you were twiddling your thumbs in the clink they installed a mighty handy public transport system on most of the planets.
These incorporate taxis, hire cars, buses, intercity shuttle flights and planet to planet space cruises. Oh, and as in Damocles, there's a transporter system that zaps you from one planet to the next in the blink of an eye. All you have to do is find it...
All of this means that finding key locations is a lot easier, as the public transport doesn't bother stopping at useless empty buildings. Well, most of the time anyway. It also means that going from one planet or one island to the next is a doddle, whereas in Damocles it was an absolute bugger. So straight from the word go, it's easy to pick up the dues and get on with the task at hand. And there's another advantage to this new twist. It means that there are other characters to meet. Taxi drivers, pilots, receptionists, and tax men. Unfortunately, you can't talk to them, only listen to their words of wisdom. Obviously, some of these characters will unwittingly impart vital info, so keep your ears open and don't go and make a cuppa during a taxi ride. You might miss that all important hint If you're an independent sort then you can splash out the cash for your own vehicle (or nick one) and explore the world beyond the transport route. Indeed, this is the only way to progress at some stages so don't rely on public transport all the time, because just like our beloved BR, it will usually zoom straight past the place you wanted to go. And so, with a whole galaxy to explore and nothing but a few vague ideas of what to do, you must once again battle to save the people of Gamma for their undying indifference. Talk about being taken for granted...
Right from the start. Mercenary III grabs your imagination. It's all presented in the usual 3D, and it seems to be a little bit smoother than before as well. Occasionally, the colour schemes become a bit psychedelic, particularly on the non-stop party planet of Bacchus! That aside, the game now features plenty of little graphical touches to draw you further into the atmosphere of it all. Taxis and buses hover along the roads, people's faces smile and frown as they speak and giant flashing hoardings scream advertising in your face.
The number of locations has gone up as well, as the bus and shuttle timetable demonstrates. There's even a strange building called Europress Publications in there somewhere! A lot of thought has gone into creating a convincing and interesting world for you to nose around in. Inevitably, there are plenty of giant buildings with nothing in them, but if you're on the right track you shouldn't come across too many.
For such a huge game, there's some surprisingly good sound effects in there as well. They're mostly restricted to the fluctuating whine of vehicle engines, but they really add a bit of gumption to the interspace journeys. And there's some hissing doors, just like Star Trek, and a resounding "clonk" when you walk into walls. Not enough to win one of those coveted Brits awards for music - Phil Collins will probably get all of those again - but it does its job and complements the look of the game.
As far as gameplay goes though, it's a winner. Perhaps a bit too slow moving for hard-bitten arcade fans, but for those who like to ponder over problems rather than leaping in feet first all guns blazing, it's the closest you're going to get to virtual reality on your Amiga. And it's a damn sight more interesting as well. A large, bulging sack of gorgeousness.
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