One of the best 3D spaceflight simulations ever made, Echelon goes beyond the typical shoot-everything-in-sight concept by integrating neat puzzles into gameplay. Your task as member of the Space Federation is to patrol The Solar System's tenth planet, Isis, and find the location of the pirates' base. Puzzles are in the form of "clues": flashing dots on the surface used to fill in the six paper maps which show how to get to the base, and codes you can break to decipher the pirates' transmissions. |
Echelon also includes a lot of nifty gadgets you can use, including a teleporter for transporting stuff you collect back to your base, and an RPV for exploring the planet's surface, and even a hyperdrive to hop around the planet faster. Space pilots who despise puzzles can opt out of the "Scientific mode" for the "Patrol mode", which allows unlimited exploration and space fights without puzzles. Lastly, action purists can choose "Military mode" for non-stop action. A wonderful game that has something for everyone, Echelon is worth a try for every space sim enthusiast. Be warned, however, that it is *not* an easy game to get into, as there are many key combinations you must memorize to succeed, as well as a steep learning curve in general. Fortunately, Echelon offers many training courses to improve your skills, and the graphics were very good for its time (you can clearly distinguish trees, rivers, and other landmarks).
The game was also notable for being the first and only Access game to feature the innovative "LipStik", a headphone/microphone combo (included free with the game) that lets players shout commands in English. It doesn't work very well, but as a 1987 novelty it was definitely far ahead of its time.
Reviewed by: Underdogs