Format reviewed: Amiga 500
Submitted by: Mike Bevan
Uridum on the C64 is a game that somewhat polarises opinion. There are those that proclaim it as one of the best shooters on the system, while others de-cry it as little more than a slick demo, and point to 'landing-pad-waiting-sysndrome' as a flaw in its design. Uridium 2 probably won't convert any of these latter doubters, but it's a splendid Amiga shooter all the same.
More of an Amiga remake than a proper sequel, Uridium 2 packs in everything fans liked from the original, and then some. The menacing Dreadnought fleets are back, now rendered in superb detail and packed with gun turrets, mine launchers, enemy ships taxi-ing for take-off, and those dreaded collideable barriers (luckily there's an all-new radar screen so you know what's coming up and can keep track of enemy fighters.) The Manta is smaller and more maneuverable, if less attractive than it was in the C64 version (we're not sure what happened to the cockpit.) It can flip on its side as before to slip through small gaps but can now also fly upside-down to evade enemy fire. Best of all, the Manta can collect a number of snazzy weapon upgrades, including homing missiles (which leave suitably impressive smoke trails), circular 'hoop' lasers, and napalm bombs to rip up the Dreadnaughts surface. Enemy formations come in thick and fast (acommpanied by an audio-warning of their approach) and swirl across the screen in an awkward-to-hit manner, egging you on to destroy all of them for a "formation annihilation bonus". And the dreaded space mines are back, causing you to panic and loop like a crazy person to avoid destruction. The game looks so good in action that it would have made a very eye-catching arcade game – particularly when run on an A1200, where the game automatically detects the extra memory and throws in extra special effects and enemies for your delectation.
As with the original C64 version, after a set time period players can locate and land on the Dreadnaught's main runway enerting the core-destruction mini-game, a sort of Side Arms-style jet-pack blasting interlude which is much more fun than the original's 'fruit-machine' sub-game, and can yield bonus points, weapons and lives for those brave enough to stay long enough (you can escape at any time after the reactor is destroyed). Escape intact and the enemy Dreadnaught dissolves into space as your Manta blasts off for the next round of starship-bashing.
Uridium 2 isn't an easy game, and many may find themselves frustrated by its Defender-like difficulty curve, after smacking into barriers or homing mines for the nth time in a row. Sure, it's an aquired taste, and it will take some time to complete it (the key is in gaining extra lives folks) but this was a quality, cutting-edge piece of Amiga shoot-'em-up gaming which has aged gracefully and remains a cracking blast.
Be sure to experiment with the different game modes – two player simultaneous, one player plus drone etc – they're a lot of fun.