Into The Void

a game by Playmates
Platform: PC
Editor Rating: 5/10, based on 3 reviews
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Blending classic sci-fi with strategic resource-management gameplay, Into the Void challenges you to oversee the survival of one of six inter-galactic species.

Up to ten gamers (via modems or e-mail) begin in their home solar system, where they manage resources, technology, and military might to expand their starship fleets and conquer their neighbors. The various menus and animated battle sequences are portrayed in rendered 3D SVGA graphics, keeping this brainbuster's action right in your face.

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Game Reviews

Into The Void is a strategy-based game for the PC. What sets this apart from other building games is the futuristic environment. As ruler of your planet, some of the duties you need to perform to become the emperor include exploring the galaxy for remote star systems, colonizing new worlds and building new starships.

The game is played in "turns," meaning there are two phases to the game: plotting and action. In the plotting stage, you have the ability to make all the required decisions as a ruler, such as giving orders to your fleets, material transactions and diplomatic actions. Once you make all the decisions for the turn, you will enter the action phase. This is the part of the game where your moves are executed, and you'll find out exactly how your decisions--right or wrong--have affected the game.

Features of the game include three modes of play: Single, Network or E-Mail. In the single game, you can decide whether you want the universe to be small, medium or large. Other options include the ability to set the number of computer players from one to 10.

Overview

Into the Void is yet another example of space exploration and conquest wrapped in cardboard and shrink-wrap. This is a premise that we've seen over and over again with nothing new to offer. Into the Void is brought to you by Playmates Interactive Entertainment, Adrenalin Entertainment and Electric Moo Productions. You would think that after so many other similar games on the market, they could have come up with something new. Unfortunately, Into the Void only gives you another space conquest game. I can't even say that the graphics and sound make up for its lack of originality. The story is simple: try to conquer and inhabit everything you see.

Gameplay

Here's the plot: farm, mine, build ships, research, spy, and protect your planet. Sure, these are the basics to any infant galactic society. But maintaining and juggling these aspects become tedious once you figure out what you're supposed to do with them. The instruction manual doesn't really cover how to play the game. The producers expect you to know how to play the game already. Why? Because they know it's a tired, re-hashed game too, and that you've probably played a dozen games just like it already.

The only interesting aspect to this game was finding out what it was that you were researching. Click on your research center and you get two vague picture icons and a question mark. So you click on the question mark. (One mis-click and you're out a research center.) Here you get a list of subjects to research. It would be nice to know what you're going to research before you start the process. If you could even have a hint, that would be nice. But instead you get to choose from Arcturus Center, HE-Kinetic, Fusion Bottle and a number of other obscurities. And get this: about 50 -- yes, that's fifty -- turns later you get a message stating that your researchers have discovered something. At first you can't remember what it was you were supposed to be researching, then you read the message and discover the Arcturus Center was an upgraded research facility, the HE-Kinetic was a missile, and the Fusion Bottle was a power supply. Who knew?! Yippee! Let's see what a Sandcaster is … 40 turns? Must be something pretty cool! Nope, it throws a sand block into space to distract missiles from your ship.

The aliens are generic and never surprise you. In fact, I played two games without ever seeing an alien race. When you do find the aliens, you always end up trying to kill each other off. (And I stress trying.) I have yet to conquer the galaxy, though. A 500-turn game, and neither I nor the alien races were even close to conquering the galaxy. Most of the game you sit there checking all the planets you've colonized to make sure they're not overpopulated, or sending your spies to other worlds to see if they're inhabitable or colonized, and, if they are, either inciting a riot just for fun or stealing their technology.

The battle scenes, to be honest, are embarrassingly bad. I've seen better battle scenes on my Atari 2600. I can't tell you how useless these scenes are. The poorly-designed ships move in blocks to get where they're going, then sit dead in space and slowly fire back and forth at each other. Meanwhile, you sit there stupefied, shaking your head.

The only challenge to this game is figuring out how to play it. When you finally figure it out, you'll quickly find it wasn't worth all the trouble getting there. This game is, however, "fully networkable for up to 10 players via local area networks or the internet through e-mail." I can't prove this. I dare you to find someone who owns this game. Go on, I dare ya.

Graphics

The graphics are sad. If this game had entered the market about 5 years ago, even then it would have been a poor game with mediocre graphics. The opening movie is blurry and sometimes choppy with very blocky pixelation. It seems to me that most of the game development time was used in the graphics for the main screen. The motion and graphics there seem well done, but still boring. You never see your adversaries except in one tiny head shot picture.

Audio

Sadly, the audio is no better than the graphics. In fact, some of the most frequently clicked buttons make the most annoying beeps and grunts. You simply don't want to hear the audio in this game. And really, it's not needed. No one talks to you, and besides, how much noise do spinning planets make? Any sound this game has isn't needed. Don't be surprised if you end up turning the volume off altogether.

Documentation

Usually I find that games are under-documented, especially if the user is new to that particular genre. This game is no exception. It tells you what you could have figured out for yourself, and doesn't mention how to do a lot of things you need to know. For example, the book says, "When you first enter a star system ..." Well, how do you get to a star system? They spend enough time telling you what things are, but not how to accomplish them. I still think the research items should be described so that you know what it is you're researching.

System Requirements

Required: IBM 486DX compatible or better (Pentium is preferred), 8 MB RAM (16 is preferred), 55 MB free hard drive space, SVGA video card with VESA support of 640x480x256 screen mode, (you must have VESA compliant video card or video driver), 2X CD-ROM drive (4X preferred), DOS v.5.0 or higher, 2-button mouse, keyboard

Bottom Line

I can't say that I liked this game. I didn't hate it, though. There's just nothing new in this game, nothing unique that sets it apart. The game loses its appeal quickly, well … if it ever does appeal to you … it is quickly lost in the endless tedium of mouse clicking. I must admit that the game has most of what real-life space conquest would probably need, but nothing momentous ever happens. If I wanted tedium, I'd turn on C-SPAN and let my eyes glaze over watching that. _Into the Void is tedious and boring -- rather like watching Congress in session -- and not worth your time. I'm forced to give this game a 60 for poor graphics, poor audio, and a tired, tedious plot.

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