Spectrum 2.0

Review of 'Chaos'

Rating:5 User: Matt_B

This excellent multi-player strategy game was written by Julian Gollop who would later go on to write the likes of Rebelstar, Laser Squad and UFO: Enemy Unknown. Allegedly, Chaos was released before it was completed and, not surprisingly, looks a bit rough around the edges in places. Still, that doesn't matter too much when you get into the game.

There are up to eight wizards in play, any of which can be computer controlled or given to a human player. Each wizard gets a random set of spells, some of which are more useful than others. However, the game balances itself somewhat in that the most powerful spells are relatively difficult to cast; a weak giant rat spell will always work, however the golden dragon might only have a 10% chance. To improve your chances you can try to wait until the cosmic balance shifts towards law or chaos; you can influence it a bit with your choices but might have to wait some time. Alternatively spells can be cast as illusions and will always work; however they can be instantly destroyed with the disbelieve spell, which you can expect computer opponents to use at the slightest provocation.

Aside from summoning creatures, spells can have a variety of effects such as building impregnable castles, magical attacks on other wizards. Of particularly devastating possibility are the gooey blob and magic fire, both of which can eventually swamp the entire map and swallow up opposing creatures and wizards into the process.

If this all sounds complicated, don't worry; it isn't. Unlike most strategy games, Chaos proceeds at a positively breakneck pace and you can get the basics of it within a few minutes.

On the downside, the game isn't totally fair; sometimes you might get taken out on the first turn by a magic bolt, or be given a particularly rotten set of spells. However, over a long session things tend to even out, and particularly successful players can expect to be ganged up against in true Machiavellian fashion by those less fortunate.

Where most computer games are relatively solitary affairs, or at best involve a couple of players, Chaos succeeds admirably as a social game that can be enjoyed by a big group of friends. It's practically unique in that respect amongst Spectrum games which is enough to make it a winner. It's perhaps less fun as a one player game, but those in search of a stern challenge can always try to take on seven high level computer wizards by themselves.