When you're blessed with a name like Les, it's almost inevitable that you'll turn out to be a scientist. And Lester Chaykin has done that in spades. He's really rather a good scientist actually; he gets to play with the really massive machines like particle accelerators.
So, there he is working in his lab one night, accelerating his particles, dividing his atoms and so on, blissfully unaware of the storm brewing up out- side. And wouldn't you know it, just as he's about to get his particle up to that tricky optimum speed, his bloomin' lab is struck by lightning. That sort of thing isn't really conducive to technical precision, particularly when the lightning surges through the accelerator, inter- acting in a strange and wonderful way with the circuitry within, blowing Lester out of his seat into another time and another world. Not the best of ways to spend an evening.
Our Les finds himself, at the beginning of the game and probably some-what to his surprise, languishing in a pool, and very quickly drowning. At this point you start to panic because you don't have a clue what to do next Swimming upwards is a good idea.
Now you begin to realise what sort of game you've got yourself into. You've just sat through an intro with some of the best effects you've ever seen, you have the barest idea of how to move Les, and you're stranded on the edge of a pool on another planet with the cries of strange birds off in the distance. Panic!
Another World is a graphic adventure in the truest sense. Everything is conveyed visually: there's no typing and no on-screen text, Les is controlled with the joystick and has a limited but useful range of movements - walking, running, crouching, firing (eventually) and, of course, dying.
From the moment you emerge from the pool, you're on your own. It's up to you to explore the environment, try out objects, shoot things, fall down without being chasms and find out what the hell is going on, with the overall aim of trying to escape from wherever it is you are without being frazzled. Assuming you survive the first few screens, you soon find yourself in a city. Deep within a city, in fact, incarcerated in a cage guarded by a heavy with a big gun. From then on in, it's all hard work.
There's a lot of dying to be done. You can't walk two steps without being crushed, shot, spiked, bitten, pummelled or drowned, which is why you should guard the level codes you gain with your life. As you play the game and complete certain sections. new codes appear (when you die), enabling you to start at that section again next time. They're a godsend, but also a pain when you know you only have to corn- plete one more screen to get a new code, but you can't quite make it.
Another World uses polygon animation. In other words, instead of the backgrounds and the characters being hand-drawn, they're made up of polygons. This has the disadvantage of making everything look slightly blocky, but the advantages far outweigh this. The animations are very smooth because individual frames don't have to be drawn for each movement and disk accessing is reduced - there's hardly any. This is because polygons can be stored as coordinate pairs instead of as lines of data - as is usually the case. Occasionally, when you manage to complete a particularly important section, you're treated to a short full screen animation which unfolds the story a bit further. These animations are designed to look like film sequences and they really do add a touch of class to the game. There are little touches, too, that you only notice when you have played a sequence two or three times - things like speed blurs and extra sound effects.
A game with such effective graphics demands decent sound effects and, because this is a French game, this is just what you get. Samples are used throughout - big, blasting samples too: crashing sound effects and atmospheric music. The sound is also synchronized perfectly with the action, which sounds like a minor point but coordination is often missing from similar games, resulting in an irritating loss of atmosphere.
Another World combines the excitement and mystery of Monkey Island with the gloss and flair of Operation Stealth. Some of the animation sequences are truly astounding, not just technically but because of the way they're integrated into the gameplay. A lot of time and effort has obviously gone into making the game look and flow like a film.
Paradoxically, the game's too easy because it's very hard. Certain sections make you swear until yore blue in the face and demand ten or even 20 attempts for you to begin to figure out what to do, let alone consider completing them. But it's the very fact that you know you can do it, and you know that whatever comes next will be even better, that keeps you at it. As a concequence, you're furiously obsessed by the game for a week or so until you complete it - and then that's it. There's absolutely no incentive to play it again, because nothing will be different and it would be a chore rather than fun.
But what a time you have when you are playing. Another World is an experience not to be missed. If you care at all about intriguing gameplay, fabulous graphics and even better sound effects, there's no better place to find them than on Another World.