Light Force


by Greg Follis, Roy Carter
Faster Than Light
1986
Crash Issue 34, November 1986   (1986-10-23)   page(s) 16,17

Lightforce is the Punishment Arm of the Galactic Fighter Command. If a law is broken then Lightforce is on hand to ensure the penalty is paid. And nobody escapes.

Lightforce is also the first game from the Faster Than Light label. This is an off-shoot of Gargoyle Games, the people responsible for the acclaimed scrolling graphic adventure quests Tir Na Nog, Dun Darach and Heavy on the Magick. The new label allows programmers Greg Follis and Roy Carter to depart from a game style which they have made their own, and to take on mainstream arcade entertainment.

The Terran-settled Regulus system, set in an unobtrusive corner of the galaxy, is in trouble. Inoffensive and ignored by most races, it becomes the unusual target for marauding aliens. These aliens are very tough cookies and in no time at all have taken over the peaceful Terran system, culling many of its inhabitants and enslaving the rest. Vengeance is obviously called for.

The GEM council's reaction to this invasion of one of its colonies is predictably swift and violent. They order all Lightforce fighters in the Regulus sector to attack. Unfortunately, your fighter turns out to be the only craft in the vicinity and, though daunted by the prospect of taking on umpteen aliens on your tod, you prepare to engage the enemy. Yours is not to reason why...

The game is split into five sections. Emerging from the lightdrive tunnel, you find yourself in the thick of an asteroid be it. Blasting a path through the debris you see below vast alien installations of weapons systems, armament pods and energy domes circling every planet. The odds are ridiculous. In a nano-second the aliens have registered the arrival of an intruder and despatch ships to intercept. Cool, calm and collected, and chanting the motto 'Lightforce is for REVENGE', you set the lasers and start blasting.

Before descending to the planet surface the massive orbital stations must be annihilated, and then there are further alien control stations to be destroyed in the jungle below. After the jungle section play progresses to the ice planet, then the desert planet, and finally the alien factories. For every four control stations destroyed a bonus is added to your score.

The screen action scrolls downwards and the aliens swoop in from every conceivable angle, each type of alien craft attacking in separate waves. The Lightforce fighter has sensitive controls and can move upwards, from side to side and downwards if you want to beat a hasty retreat.

COMMENTS
Control keys: redefinable: up, down, left, right, fire
Joystick: Kempston, Cursor, Interface 2
Keyboard play: slick
Use of colour: revolutionary
Graphics: most impressive
Sound: limited, a few spot effects
Skill levels: one
Screens: five scrolling play areas


'My first sight of this game at the PCW show turned me into a gibbering wide-eyed heap on the floor. Lightforce has been in the office for quite a while now and so far it hasn't been left alone for longer than ten minutes - almost a new office record. The graphics are THE BEST that I have seen on a Spectrum shoot 'em up, if not in any game. The characters are large, colourful and very fast, and the background scrolling is excellent. Sound is a touch disappointing, as there are no tunes, but the effects more than make up for that. Gameplay is extremely compelling but very hard, which can be a little disheartening. I'd recommend this to everyone who likes a good shoot 'em up as you won't find one better for a long, long time.'

'Gargoyle's first release on the new Faster Than Light label is a definite winner. The game is extremely playable and features lots of colour that is well implemented in the large and detailed graphics. Sound is weak, but there are some nice spot effects. Lightforce is easy to get into and contains all that the average shoot em upper would like, with a play area which scrolls smoothly and contains lots of things to blow up. However, as with other games of this genre you may find yourself bored after a time and £8.00 is quite a lot to pay.'

'After thrilling to the PCW Show preview, I eagerly awaited the arrival of Lightforce. Usually any game I wait for with such anticipation is bound to disappoint me, but this game really is the exception to the rule! Something has to be said about the graphics, but how can I do them justice? Colour is absolutely amazingly superbly stunningly (help, where's my thesaurus?) brilliant, and the game is undoubtedly one of the best shoot 'em ups on the Spectrum. Maybe I have some sort of sadistic craving to destroy aliens in a fast-moving, scrolling landscape, but if that's the way it is, and if I can play and play Lightforce, then I'm happy. Okay? This game certainly is!'

Use of computer: 92%
Graphics: 95%
Playability: 91%
Getting Started: 90%
Addictive Qualities: 90%
Value For Money: 89%
Overall: 91%

Summary: General Rating: State of the art shoot 'em up.

Award: Crash Smash

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Crash Issue 58, November 1988   (1988-10-20)   page(s) 111

Greg Follis and Roy Carter of Tir Na Nog and Dun Darach fame (among many others), departed from their usual style in November 1986 to create the vertically-scrolling shoot-'em-up, Lightforce.

This was the first release on the FTL (Faster Than Light) label and immediately amazed Spectrum owners with its amazingly colourful graphics. Fast-moving enemies zip around the screen, over a smoothly scrolling coloured background without a hint of colour clash - the second level, Jungle Planet, is particularly impressive.

Lightforce is pure mindless violence - the only deviation from blasting enemies is destroying the ground-level control centres to gain extra lives. Multi-coloured aliens swoop down in various attack waves and must either be shot or avoided. If your strangely-shaped ship manages to battle through to the end of a level, bonus points are calculated for the number of alien waves destroyed and an extra life is given if a preset number of control centres have been eliminated.

Although it eventually proves repetitive, Lightforce is still a highly playable blast-'em-up, well worth a look at the budget price.


Overall: 82%

Summary: General Rating:

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 12, December 1986   page(s) 93

Lightforce is the first release from the new Gargoyle label, Faster Than Light, and it's a shoot 'em up. Remember Imagine's Arcadia? Well, this is the same thing three years on, with the addition of vertical scrolling and super-large characters.

You start the game in an asteroid shower, which should warn you that things can only get worse. Your simple choice is to dodge them or blast them. The way to survive is a combination of these two, which should get you through to the first alien craft. You then have to score multiple hits on its control chambers if you want an extra life.

But, of course, the enemy is well protected, with craft that drop down - only you can't blast these! And things have hardly started to get difficult yet, because the enemy fighters perform elaborate little dances. Before you can say Red Arrows, they're weaving all over the place dropping bombs on you.

Nobody could deny that Lightforce looks nice, and you'd expect nothing less of a Gargoyle game. But it doesn't quite seem to have captured the elements that make a shoot 'em up totally addictive. Instead it becomes frustrating and though the graphics move fast for their size, they seem rather sluggish on-screen. So though it's definitely not a 40 watt bulb on a snail, it's not Faster Than Light either.


Graphics: 9/10
Playability: 7/10
Value For Money: 6/10
Addictiveness: 7/10
Overall: 7/10

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 37, January 1989   page(s) 123

When I first started on YS a couple of years back there was a great controversy over this game. It was one of the first vertically scrolling shooters to appear on the Speccy. Gwyn and Rachael hated it, Phil hated it, but I loved it. Sure, it's not the fastest game in the world, but the graphics are superb - full of colour and imagination - and the gameplay - easy at first, but getting gradually harder - is perfectly judged. I played it for months.

Written by those funsters at Gargoyle — one of the most underrated programming teams in Spectrum history, Id say — it was a great success and paved the way for around 60000 similar programms. Gwyn and Rachael gave it seven at the time, but they were wong: it still plays like a dream and I'll give it eight.


Overall: 8/10

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 55, October 1986   page(s) 32,33

Lightforce is, simply the ultimate shoot 'em up on the Spectrum.

'You obliterate things, you dodge things, you need faster than lightning reflexes. If you survive the first couple of levels you're pretty good.

Hang on a minute though. Isn't there something wrong here. I mean is the age of up-right-left-down-fire games gone or what? What about icons, artificial intelligence, what about complexity?

Lightforce is a simple game presented using every programmer's trick there is, Faster Than Light are experienced programmers. In another guise the company was called Gargoyle and created game like Tir Na Nog some of the most sophisticated and complex adventure puzzles ever.

I think this achievement in Lightforce is simply this - Faster Than Light has created the nearest thing to a true arcade game ever seen on the Spectrum. Somehow it combines highly detailed backgrounds , with large sprites, with colour and manages to scroll the whole lot along very smoothly.

Do you need a plot? For some reason or other you, equipped only with a few battle cruisers, must destroy not only a wide selection of assorted alien spacecraft, but also a host of buildings, and other gear. SOme of the aliens lob vicious mines at you. This is bad. There are a variety of backgrounds, each with particular features and problems. The detail and variety of the backgrounds is astonishing. You begin hurtling over a jungle planet but later blast your way across an ice world, an industrial complex and a river.

Getting a high score means not only lasting the course but going for a wide range of bonuses. This usually involves destroying all the buildings of a particular complex. Though the game is simply described, survival is not easy. The alien hoards in Lightforce are a sophisticated bunch not about to fly in conveniently avoided formations. ALien attack patterns are subtle and complex and with each you must learn a whole new set of tactics. As with all the best games at least some of the aliens seem absolutely impossible to avoid and just when you're about to admit defeat you discover a way, something, a dodge, that will get you through.

The first such situtation in Lightforce arises when a bunch of star shaped aliens come straight for you - it seems impossible to get past then and you end up pinioned on the back wall - easy pickings with little you can do.

I lost, a hundred lives or more until I discovered how my movement patterns were linked to the star ships and figured out how to avoid them...

Much fuss is being made with Lightforce the fact it has 'no attribute problems'. It's an astonishing thing to see - all those highly detailed multi-coloured backgrounds and large sprites resolutely refusing to change colour. The answer is simple but brilliantly executed - in fact al the colours keep to character squares but pixel shading in black and white disguises the fact extraordinarily well.

There isn't much else to say about Lightforce, no complexities of plot to discuss. All it is is just about the most impressive zap 'em game yet seen on the Spectrum. Does that sound pretty good?

Label: Faster Than Light
Author: In house
Price: £7.95
Joystick: various
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer: Graham Taylor

*****


Overall: 5/5

Summary: The ultimate blaster, Lightforce is mindless destructive at its very best. An essential purchase.

Award: Sinclair User Classic

Transcript by Chris Bourne

ACE Issue 7, April 1988   page(s) 68

Spectrum, £7.95cs
CBM, £8.95cs, £13.95dk
Amstrad, £8.95cs, £13.95dk

A fast vertical scroller this one. And on the Spectrum - miraculously - not a colour clash to be seen. Destroy the descending aliens and the various installations. The varied alien waveforms make this a demanding game that can easily become a habit. Not to be missed if you're a Spectrum owner.


Overall: Not Rated

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Computer & Videogames Issue 62, December 1986   page(s) 50

MACHINE: Spectrum
SUPPLIER: Faster Than Light
PRICE: £7.95

HEY. I must have gone through a time warp or something! I am playing Galaxians aren't I? No. The box says Lightforce. Well, it feels like Galaxians to me. Lots of fast moving spiralling aliens and that stuff.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not moaning or anything, Lightforce is a mega-blast of the first order. Pretty graphics, smooth scrolling and enough action to keep even the most demanding zapper happy. But you HAVE seen this sort of game before.

Maybe not so polished or attractive - but when it comes to originality Lightforce can't claim much.

The aim of the game is to simply blast everything you see. Certain things grant you extra lives if you zap enough of them. Landscapes may change but the object remains the same.

The game scrolls horizontally and you can move your Lightforce space cruiser around at will.

Learn the waves is the best advice we can give at this stage. Work out where to position your ship to best advantage to tackle the various alien attackers and asteroids.

You launch your ship Uridium fashion from a mother ship - which also has a little bit of writing on it explaining what you are about to experience!

The thing that REALLY keeps you playing is the irritating hi-score chart, if you fail to get on it, the program tells you your score with the words "Not A High Score" beside it. Talk about frustrating!

Graphics are excellent - as you'd expect from the Gargoyle Games people - for it is they who are behind the new FTL label. The aliens and landscapes are colourful, solid looking and well drawn. Sound isn't bad either.

Lightforce is a arcade blast from the past with some nice touches which bring a classic game up to date. If you're into shoot 'em ups then Lightforce is the game for you.


Graphics: 8/10
Sound: 7/10
Value: 9/10
Playability: 9/10

Award: C+VG Hit

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Computer Issue December 1986   page(s) 47

Amstrad/Spectrum
FTL
Shoot-'em-up
£8.95

When Gargoyle Games, the company responsible for some of the technically best games on the Spectrum, and the company to which Elite turned when Scooby Doo became a nightmare, announces that it is starting a label on which to release games of a more arcade nature, you know that the result will not be disappointing.

Lightforce is a shoot-'em-up of almost unparalleled quality, at least on any machine except the Commodore. Using vertical scrolling, it combines the natural 'kill everything' feeling with a sense of urgency which has the player trying frequently to find that elusive extra bullet to get him out of a very sticky corner.

Graphically, Lightforce makes the most of the various machine facilities. On the Spectrum it avoids colour clash well and the graphics are carefully and well-defined. On the Amstrad the game is colourful, and the shading is excellent, especially on the later, shrubbed masses.

As you play the game it becomes apparent that, as with all classic shoot-'em-ups, there is method behind the madness. To achieve success, you must be quick-witted and also be able to guess from where the next few enemies are likely to appear. Using this method it is possible to get to grips with the first two stages relatively easily.

Points are scored for shooting baddies and for blowing-up the specified amount of control centres. The latter is also rewarded with an extra life. Overall, Lightforce bodes well for FTL.


Graphics: 4/5
Sound: 3/5
Playability: 4/5
Value For Money: 3/5
Overall: 4/5

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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