Conservation, ecology and 'green' politics were the hottest topics in the late 20th Century with the hole in the ozone layer, the 'greenhouse effect' and pollution all major concerns. Global warming was the ultimate threat, soon to become ironic when a meteor burned into Earth's atmosphere and impacted South East Asia. Millions of tons of dust were thrown into the atmosphere, throwing a dark veil over the globe and heralding the march of ice from the Poles.
Sixty years later, in 2099, the only habitable land is the Azores, turned into a single large island linked by ice and appropriately renamed Midwinter. The island's inhabitants hope to see the re-emergence of the human race and have built a complex transportation system consisting of snow buggies, a cable car network, hang-gliders and skis. Factories and synthesis plants produce vital stores while radio stations provide communication. But it's the eighteen Heat Mines that are the key to the island's life, providing the energy for the people to stay alive.
Law and order is the responsibility of the FVPF (Free Villages Peace Force). Led by Captain John Stark it patrols the island, settling minor disputes with little trouble - until now, that is. From the south-east, the ambitious General Masters has gathered an army of soldiers, snow buggy battalions, and patrol aircraft to wrest control of the isle from the more liberal inhabitants. To achieve his aim he must seize or destroy the heat Mines.
The game opens with Captain John Stark on patrol. Stark learns of Masters's initial attack, which has captured the three main radio stations. Unable to call for help he must start the resistance campaign by word-of-mouth. A map of the island can be brought up - in color or relief (fractal) modes, with a powerful zoom function. The map also reveals the locations of buildings, the cable car network, and positions of the two combatants' forces.
Via the map, Stark is able to command his recruits to perform tasks around the island. Watches can be synchronized to maintain precise timing (which is vital) and every two hours situation reports are produced. To begin with, Stark cannot contact anyone by radio and needs to ski to nearby comrades to recruit them. Once a person is under Stark's command you can take direct control of them, looking through their eyes. You can also have the person seek and recruit other people (32 in all), sabotage enemy installations, and search and destroy targets. A wise commander will bear in mind that all his characters have individual strengths and weaknesses, plus hidden talents such as the ability to ski, hang-glide, etc.
Unfortunately for Stark, his comrades aren't the usual zombies which inhabit computer games. In fact, there are quite complex relationships between the characters. Love affairs, hatred, jealousy, admiration, and many other factors all play their part in determining the chances of one person recruiting another. These problems make recruiting no sure thing, so it's a good idea to recapture the radio stations and use them to contact everyone.
While this is happening, General Masters is going all-out to overwhelm Stark's forces. Although Masters has twelve hours advance on Stark, his weakness is a reluctance to use the island's higher ground, opting instead for moving supplies and forces through the flat lands.
With this fact in mind, Stark can avoid snow buggy patrols by skiing at high altitudes, using the cable cars, and even hang-gliding from a peak to a plateau. But pushing the vehicles too far, too high, or too fast can lead to disaster. Wounds can lead to loss of muscle power, alertness and morale. Push characters too hard and their sight fades into monochrome before blacking out.
Preventing Masters from taking all 18 heat mines is a huge task, given the sheer number of enemy vehicles coming from the south-east. Guerilla tactics are the best in this desperate situation. Ambushing supply buggies, destroying them to prevent them falling into enemy hands; these are all good tactics in this chillingly cold war.
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