How do you play retro games?

XF5700 Mantis Experimental Fighter (DOS)

Published by
Developed by
Released
Platform
...
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.9
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  WizardX (116)
Written on  :  Jul 14, 2003

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful

write a review of this game
read more reviews by WizardX
read more reviews for this game

Summary

An ambitious, but failed, experiment

The Good

The best thing about this game is that it attempted what no flight sim before (and very few since) had tried: a space combat simulator using a realistic physics model. There was decent fun to be had just in flying around your station. (and the model was quite solid given processors of the time - even firing your machine gun caused a slight backwards force) Also, its attempt to use digitized movies was extremely advanced for the time, and pretty much unmatched until CD-ROMs became standard. The opening cinematic, with its depiction of how the war started, was especially effective.

The Bad

Unfortunately, the attempt at realistic space combat just *did*not*work*. It was virtually impossible to dogfight in any traditional sense - you just ended up taking missile pot-shots from several kilometers away. Actual manned flight was extremely difficult, and you just ended up using your onboard computer for everything. This is probably realistic, but didn't make for a very fun game. Most of the missions got very repetitive, and has been discussed, the difficulty at the end ramped up to the point of insanity. I suppose proficiency with manual flight is possible, but would require months of practice. It had many plot ideas which COULD have been interesting if explored, but it felt incomplete. One subplot, for example, involved you being snagged by a higher being of great power and made into an experiment, several times. Except this plot vanishes from the game and is never resumed. (well, it's possible it is at the end; I got about 90% through it and could proceed no further - I almost got the feeling they never planned on anyone managing to complete the game) And while the videos were ambitious for their time, the acting was beyond atrocious. Simply painful to watch.

The Bottom Line

This is still, probably, the closest thing we've got to a Babylon 5 flight sim, since the official game was cancelled. (although there are a couple fan projects aiming to do it) People with an interest in a realistic handling of space combat might enjoy the experience, but it's simply too dry to be considered a fun game.