Captive

Captive

[kap-tiv]
Captive is a science fiction computer role-playing game released by Mindscape in 1990. A Dungeon Master "clone", it featured 3D realtime graphics from a first-person perspective.

The player characters are androids (termed "droids" in the game) operated remotely by a prisoner trying to free himself. The player assumes the role of the prisoner, and the game involves visiting and destroying a series of bases on different planets.

It was made available on Amiga, Atari ST and PC (1992) platforms.

Plot

Trill, the main character, is judged guilty and ordered in a space cryogenic prison for 250 years. 248 years later, he awakes, but without the memory of who he is, where he is and why he was imprisoned.

In the corner of his cell, which had doubled as a store-room, the prisoner finds a "briefcase computer" which gives him control over a group of four droids on a space ship. Now he must use these droids to find and free himself.

Gameplay

Game structure

To free Trill, the droids visit a number of bases on several planets. On each base, the droids locate space probes, which provide the locations of subsequent bases. In addition to collecting probes, the droids also have to blow up the generators of the base which power the force field of the prison station, and then find the exit before the base collapses.

Controlled by the prisoner/player, the droids are firstly found in a spaceship in distant space (an interface using vector graphics), until ordered to land with a capsule on a planet. On each planet, the droids have to first locate the entrance to the base, then enter and explore 'dungeons' containing various puzzles and alien and robotic enemies.

A fully completed mission consists of ten bases followed by the space station; there is a room in the space station which houses Trill, and if the droids enter this room, the game gives the player the choice of freeing him and ending the game completely, or allowing the enemy to recapture him, starting another mission.

Shops

There are shops where the droids can buy, sell and repair various weapons, ammunition and body parts. Each droid has of a number of replaceable body parts: a head, chest, arms, hands, legs and feet. These can be upgraded and repaired individually. There are also accessories that can be purchased at the shops such as batteries and remote cameras, and a variety of special utility devices.

Weapons

There are a variety of weapons, both for hand-to-hand combat and projectile weapons. Depending on its type and the position of the droid wielding it, a weapon can have effect on the left, in the middle or on the right, and at one of two different heights. Some weapons can fire multiple shots at different heights and positions. The two front droids can attack on the left- or right-hand flank respectively. The two droids in the back rank can each only fire projectile weapons down the middle.

The most damaging weapon class, the "spayguns" (an unfortunate typo for "sprayguns"), only rarely appear in shops, and have the most expensive and heaviest ammo with the lowest capacity. One cannot carry that many tanks before the droid exceeds its weight tolerance.

Devices

The droids can purchase add-on devices from two series: the optics, which either provide extra information or affect the eyesight of the droids, or the devscapes, which affect the droid's in other ways. Each droid can only use one such special device at any given time.

The optics include:

  • "Radar" — shows the position of enemies, even if they are behind walls or too far away to be seen.
  • "Mapper" — automatically generates a map of the base explored so far.
  • "Visor" — allows droids to see in dark areas of the base.
  • "Route finder" — shows the way to the entrance/exit of a base or the location of the lander craft, depending on the situation.

The devscapes include:

  • "Antigrav" — inverts the position of the droids so that they walk on the ceiling, allowing them to fire at floating enemies, climb up holes in the ceiling and avoid damage from water.
  • "Recharger" — refreshes a droid's power level.
  • "Shield" — reduces the damage taken from enemy attacks.
  • "Deflector" — completely deflects enemy attacks.

Challenge

The movement and fighting is similar to traditional Dungeon Master clones like Eye of the Beholder. It does play in real time, but most of the opponents move relatively slowly, so much of the gameplay relies not so much on reflexes as on the basic strategy of minimizing damage taken, not getting backed into corners or cul-de-sacs, and not running out of ammunition.

It can be challenging for the first mission, as the droid body parts one can obtain become only slightly more durable as one gains levels, but once the player reaches the second mission and beyond, they should have "maxed out" on body parts and weaponry, and the enemy difficulty plateaus, so only through carelessness or bad luck should they be killed. The space stations, however, are always challenging, because the enemy droid units there take (and deliver) very large amounts of damage. It is also easy to exhaust one's ammunition if it's been too long since a shop has been visited, and shops are placed randomly.

Miscellaneous

The programmer used an algorithm that generates each planet and base, including its inhabitants, using a single numerical "seed" on the game disk - a trick which enabled them to have 65,535 levels in the game without having to store the details of each level individually (only one base is "active" in any given saved game, since each base must be "destroyed" before moving on).

The game was known as "Federation War" while in development, but a reader of ACE magazine came up with the name Captive in a competition.

Reviews

Amiga Format reviewed Captive in 1990 and gave it a score of 91%. Zzap! also gave the game a 91% score in 1991, saying:
"As a true RPG it has many of the drawbacks that Dungeon Master had (very little interaction, fictional combat etc). However, the gameworld is well designed, the plot and the opponents are imaginative and the puzzles are challenging with many thrills and spills to keep you on the edge of your chair.

See also

References

External links

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