Plot: In 2151, the current conflict is divided into a group of Jupiter colonists and the totalitarian Earth Hegemony. The two agree to disagree, if the dissident colonists move to the Centauri System which has two, count em, habitable planets. The Jupiter colony exodus is completed by the year 2154.
It is now 2239, and the Century colonists, once called the Jupiter colonists - you have to keep up with this plot, have formed a stable clan (spell that Mechwarrior) based society on the two habitable planets now named new Hope and Thatcher. Well with there economic success and the newly established diplomatic relations with the basically evil Earth Hegemony, there is bound to be trouble, and that is where you come in.
The protagonist with the weird name, Nicola ap Io, is a squad leader in an elite force called Strike Force Centauri (SFC). Shortly after establishing diplomatic relations with the Earth Hegemony, pirates began attacking Centuri outposts with such ferocity that the normal clan defenses were overwhelmed. The SFC was formed from the best warriors of all the clans to deal with this increased incursion.
"Fore warned is fore armed." And this time the pirate incursions escalate to a full blown Hegemony versus Clans warfare. And thankfully you, Nicola ap Io, have opted to serve your confederacy with the last ounce of blood and marrow, so that you meet this newer more devastating threat head on.
Combat: The basis for combat is the Powered Battle Armor, that is an exo-armor suit (armored exoskeleton) that has enough weapons on it that at times you will think you are piloting a Battlemech rather than the suit. The only other combat level game that in part resembles this one was a little known first-person perspective game set in Vietnam that was centered around the Seal four man assault team.
Views: Full screen mode is similar to the invisible cockpit mode seen first in Chuck Yeager’s Flight Simulator by Electronic Arts.
Settings: Mission settings are outdoors, similar to Mechwarrior, with rolling hills, structures, trees
Scenario: There is only one scenario?
Missions: There are 37 missions to tackle. Missions are strike, intercept, and escort type similar to those in a flight simulator.
Interface: In mission there is a display which looks like the open viewing area of the helmet, which is overlayed by a heads up display, and three multifunction displays, MFDs, also like a flight or Battlemech combat simulator. From this command center, Nicola controls right and left side and rear views, squad member and drone views, weapons selection, squad commands and conditions.
Squad member commands: Very similar to wing person commands of a flight simulator an impressive (read that 22 commands) number of commands are available to the squad leader, which are divided into seven movement, seven tactics, seven engagement, and three auxilliary suit function (ASF) commands Movement commands are move here, follow me, stop and wait, go to nav point, go to pickup, follow this path, and follow object. Other commands include attack my target, take cover, rush enemy, aggressive attack, assume formation, attack this, hold fire, and use ASF at will. This is probably one of the most sophisticated attack group command structure ever in an action game with artificial intelligence members. The commands were a joy to use, due to the ease of activation and the precision of their desired actions and execution by the squad members. ASFs in include drones, mines, and a special type of explosive device especially useful in destroying structures from a long way off.
Controls: Terra Nova is best played from the keyboard with a card listing all the one key (can you say hot key?) commands and function key commands listed on a command card, which was missing from my version of the game.
Conclusion: Just about every game that Looking Glass has ever produced is a real winner. Terra Nova is no exception with squad level combat carried to the same extent and with the same level of excitement as Mechwarrior 2. Play through 39 missions within your Powered Battle Armor (PBA). The graphics are 320x400 but they still look good and the full motion video (FMV) sequences carry the action in the campaign mode between the mission. There is a built in random scenario builder for individual missions. The only thing it lacks is a multiplayer cooperative and competitive mode.
Full Motion Video: Seems to carry the action with camp overacted sequences. But then none of the reviewers liked this part of the game.
Website: has midi music in the background while you browse the site. Neat areas work just like the game. Click on the room to your cubicle you end up in the base lobby. Click on the briefing door from the lobby and you end up in a briefing. Neat trick. Now if it only worked like the real game. Ahh! The future looks bright.
Help: Extensive manual, also like a flight combat simulator, of 76 pages is included, separate installation guides.
Hint book: Bernie Yee, Official Terra Nova Strike Force Centauri Battle Guide, Brady Games, www.mcp.com/brady, $19.99. Bernie does a competent job, as usual, in this 238 page mega book.
Novel: Ben Ohlander and David Drake, Enemy of My Enemy: Terra Nova, Baen Books, Simon & Schuster, 360 pages, $5.99.
PC Gamer, May, 1996, page 104, 90%
Hugh Falk, www.cnet.com/Gamecenter/Reviews/Terra/
Next Generation, volume 2, number 19, July, 1996, pg. 84. 4/5, 80%.
Jeff James, Computer Player, volume 3, number 1, June, 1996, pg. 60-61, 9/10, (90%).
Andrew Sanchez: www.arcadiamag.com/grid/terranov/
Michael E. Ryan, PC Magazine, www.pcmag.com/issues/1511/pcmg0094.htm, 4/4 (100%)
Rod White, www.mortimer.com/users/pcme/action/terra/terra.htm, PC Multimedia & Entertainment Magazine (96%).