"Boldly go where no man has gone before..."
Well, not exactly... Reading the box and watching the intro you might think, "Wow, pretty cool! It's got all those space things I like." Maybe talk of "hyperspace travel" or "the Mordean conflict" just jerks your warp engines to full power, but Into The Void offers to take you no further than what the title claims. For those people who might associate this game with titles such as Civilization, Master of Orion, Star Control, or Command and Conquer, let's just say that it's an insult to even put those names in the same sentence with this sucker.
The first problem with the game occurred even before I finished installing it. First of all, it is not Windows 95 compatible as it falsely claims on the box. It runs completely in DOS. Second, the game takes about 40 megs for minimum installation and 110 for maximum. Impatient? Just the minimum installation time took about 5 minutes loading from a 6x CD-ROM. After finally getting everything running, the intro was actually not too bad.
Playing the game took quite an adjustment. In attempting to make the game more sophisticated, the commands and menus had a corresponding picture to click on, but the images weren't self-explanatory and there were no words under the box specifying what it did. This made for a horribly confusing interface. Most annoying of all was the stupid 'double click' required for every command. When you click the mouse once, the game makes a squishy sound and the border of the command button changes color. Think you executed something? Wrong. You're supposed to quickly click it again, otherwise you have to start over. In short, the interface was difficult and trying.
After much trial and error, I figured out the controls and began manufacturing my star fleet and conducting scientific research for improved technology. My planet prospered and I colonized others for further expansion. The game is turn based, so basically you plan your moves and then wait for the computer to do something. Patience and strategy are the key attributes to playing this genre of games, so I'm thinking, "Ok, let's build up for a while and then attack." Little did I know that my primary planet had just been occupied. All of a sudden, a little text prompt pops up on the screen telling me that I just lost my colony. That's it. No number of troops lost, no sound effects, no report on the battle. Just a plain, "Sorry." Gosh, I felt like I was watching a US Postal Service commercial. Could it have been any more dull?
Aside from the gameplay, all the other elements of the game stunk, too. Calling that noise coming out of the speakers 'trash' would be an understatement. The graphics were SVGA, but there were only a few screens in the entire game. A bit of false advertising, perhaps?
Oh, let's not forget about the network games. You can play multiplayer either through some kind of network (not specified in the manual), or via e-mail. Give me a break, who would want to wait for eons between every turn? Funny thing is, the manual suggested playing single-player games while waiting. Sadly, I couldn't find anyone else bored enough to play this game.
When a game has a system requirement of a 486, it should be a fair indication not to expect too much in the way of depth. The storyline is actually interesting to a degree, but that's what sci-fi novels are for. It seems as if the developers tried to produce something similar to other successful hits, but utterly failed. For those of you who find me vindictive, or those who just love space related simulations, I strongly recommend Into The Void, which can probably be found at your local computer store in the cart that says "software under 10 bucks."