Operation: Inner Space

Moby ID: 1804

Description official description

Inner Space is an arcade-style shooter taking place inside a rather familiar environment: the player's computer. Evil forces have invaded, seizing control of the player's system, and setting loose program icons to cause mayhem. It's up to the player to round up the renegade icons, all the while battling other hazards inside the inner space of the player's computer, and working with--or fighting--the other AI-controlled pilots that populate the system.

The game builds its gameworld dynamically from the contents of the player's hard drive, so the game never plays exactly the same way twice. There are racetracks, a dueling arena where the player can settle scores with rivals without interference from the IS Enforcers, and a strange Inner Demon whom the player must ultimately learn to defeat in order to win the game. The player can select from dozens of ships and their variations to play, or create them using the Ship Factory, and upgrade the player's ship capabilities with weapons and equipment bought from the ambulance or salvaged from destroyed ships. The game also includes a screen saver.

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Credits (Windows 3.x version)

4 People

Director
Programming
Music
Voice Effects

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 72% (based on 4 ratings)

Players

Average score: 4.0 out of 5 (based on 8 ratings with 2 reviews)

A Fun Arcade Shooter

The Good
I liked the way this game created a multiplayer game experience but in single player mode and the way it used your hard drive to create the "levels".

The Bad
There were a few bugs, the sound will sometimes zone out, caused a few crashes for me. (Then again, everything in windows causes crashes for me)

The Bottom Line
Fun. Average graphics. Download the demo and enjoy.

Windows 3.x · by wossname (203) · 2000

An intriguing and addictive Windows shooter

The Good
Operation: Inner Space is one of the most unusual games I've played on a PC. It is more accurately described as an action/strategy hybrid: while it's possible to shoot your way through the entire game, a more balanced approach yields the best results.

This is due to O:IS's rather remarkable artificial intelligence system. Many games toss around AI buzzwords in their box copy; few of them actually deliver. O:IS is one of them. The relationships that develop between the various pilots and teams that populate the gameworld remain consistent throughout the course of play. Moreover, your actions (and those of your teammates) and treatment of others will impact those relationships, often in subtle ways.

Some relationships are pre-set at the start of play: for instance, Enforcers (the team that polices Inner Space) are friendly to the do-good Knights but are prejudiced towards Pirates, and will harass them, for obvious reasons. But if you choose to play as a Pirate, and obey the law and help others, the Enforcers' attitude towards you, and ultimately your team, may change for the better. Conversely, if you join the Knights, then proceed to kill and plunder with abandon, you can expect harsh treatment from the cops, and possibly from your own teammates. Your actions have real and lasting consequences. Kill a pilot, and his buddies will be laying for you when you enter the next wave. Help another pilot out, and he'll return the favor down the road. And if you've tussled with a rival for several waves, you can expect to be "called out" to Dodge City--the special duelling arena that locks you in with your enemy, and no Enforcers to interfere. For its AI accomplishments alone, O:IS would make a fascinating game.

It's possible to play through the entire game--and win--without firing an offensive shot. But obviously that would make a dull game for some players, so O:IS adds the prerequisite shooter elements; armor, engine and weapon powerups abound, allowing you to transform even wallflowers into formidable fighting machines. You can get upgrades by collecting icons and exchanging them for credits in the Ambulance, or if you're feeling malevolent, by picking up the resource packs of ships you've destroyed in combat. The weapons are varied and sometimes quite humorous (Pirates, for instance, may throw beer bottles at you, and a "wildcard" defense will instantly turn any nearby threats into fruit).

You can get a lot of replay mileage out of O:IS, since the gameworld is generated from the contents of your hard drive, and you can create your own ships using the Ship Factory (in case none of the dozens of pre-built models suits your fancy).

The Bad
The graphics and sound are adequate, but nothing spectacular, even by mid-Nineties game standards. Part of this is to allow O:IS to run on virtually any system that can load Windows, but it also reflects the home-grown nature of the product.

Even with the advanced AI, this is a game just crying out for good multiplayer action; with its flexible engine, O:IS would provide a terrific net-gaming experience. Unfortunately, even though the developer has continued to maintain and enhance the game over the years, no multiplayer appears to be forthcoming.

One somewhat minor problem is not the game's fault. Because the game uses your hard drive to create the levels, today's machines, with their immense storage capacities, are capable of generating hundreds if not thousands of waves to play through. This could lead to a great deal of tedium if completing each level was the only way to finish the game, but O:IS avoids this by allowing you to capture the four "noble weapons," which grant you access to the Inner Demon's lair. I won't reveal how you use those weapons to defeat the Inner Demon, but hints are available on the game's Web site.

The Bottom Line
This is an engaging and surprisingly deep shooter that has aged quite gracefully through the years. Savvy design and great customization options make Operation: Inner Space a game that can be enjoyed by virtually anyone in the family. There's few Windows games I'd recommend more highly.

Windows 3.x · by brickbat (164) · 2000

Trivia

Software Dynamics, the developer of Inner Space, also created After Dark, arguably the most popular screensaver ever produced for the Windows platform.

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Game added by brickbat.

Game added June 28, 2000. Last modified September 22, 2023.