Devastated by a killer virus, the world you once knew is a wilderness

Once upon a time, Mel Gibson wasn’t an utter maniac, he used to make films about policemen on the edge and Scottish terrorists, but one day he made a film called Mad Max. Ian Livingstone saw that film and then immediately wrote Freeway Fighter.

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Our adventure takes us to 2022, a world where World War 3 had been avoided and revolutionary farming techniques have all but eradicated world hunger, everybody is friends and it seems like science has saved humanity. An interesting detail is that the 2022 ‘soccer’ World Cup is actually being held in Australia, as if FIFA would hold it in such a crazy place. Even crazier is the idea that the final will be England vs USA. Anyway, the day that final was played, everything went a little bit Stephen King and a deadly virus emerged from somewhere in New York and within four days, 85% of the worlds population was dead. Civilization crumbled and people were willing to kill each other for a can of beans. As a survivor, our character finds himself living in the outpost town of New Hope where those holding onto the idea of civility hold up against the other half of humanity who are now rampaging around the place, looting and pillaging. New Hope has received word of another settlement in the south, San Anglo, and they are wanting to trade 10,000 litres of fuel for some of New Hopes food, which it has in abundance. So who do you think has to drive them sacks of grain and then bring back a tanker of oil amidst a lawless world of violence? That, would be our hero, who I shall call Mel.

We do actually get to name our hero in this book too as the adventure sheet has a section for the drivers name. There are actually a number of different rules to follow, we have 2D6+24 for our Stamina for instance. Unarmed hand-to-hand combat deals out 1 Stamina damage per turn and whoever takes 6 Stamina of damage first is knocked unconscious. Gunplay is run as normal combat is, but 1D6 damage is done per hit. Combat can also take place between vehicles as well, with a 1D6+6 Firepower score being the equivalent to Skill and a 2D6+24 Armour value being your Stamina, damage is again 1D6. We also have a number of special weapons in rockets, iron spikes and oil canisters.

Freeway Fighter is actually a book I remember getting as a kid, I actually remember being able to talk my dad into buying me a new Fighting Fantasy book, which is always a super exciting day as a youngster. My town hosts an annual fete with rides and all manner of duck hooks and associated rollercoaster fun times. Being a fan of video-games and books about wizards, this wasn’t exactly my scene… and to be honest, not a lot has changed! Anyway, as I managed to convince my dad that the money he would save on taking me on the rides would be best spent on a new book, and bingo – I’m cruising around a wasteland looking for oil.

With this book I get my first opportunity to steal anecdotes and information from Jonathan Greens You Are The Hero, which if you are sat reading this blog, you absolutely must own. From reading what is the Fighting Fantasy bible I am left wondering what might have been as apparently the amazing Iain McCaig was initially set to illustrate this book and produced this wonderful drawing before Kevin Bulmer took over.

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But you never know, Kev might have sketched up a storm here, so let’s get stuck into the book and find out shall we?

 

 

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How will you catch the Demon Fish?

Just a quick update here, very excited today to find this in Oxfam Books!2014-10-10 12.35.04

 

The Tasks of Tantalon, a Steve Jackson off-shoot based around visual puzzles it seems. I have never even seen the book before, let alone read it, so I’m fairly blind as to what I have here. Safe to say, I’m very happy to have got the hardback version for £2.99! I’m not sure if it will work for a read-through at some point but I will see what I can do…

Space Assassin – Conclusions

Cambridge Dictionaries defines an assassin as ‘someone who kills a famous or important person, usually for political reasons or in exchange for money’. It therefore am left perplexed by the conclusion of Space Assassin in that my character appears to leave his target alive, we drag an unconscious Cyrus from the Waldo and then that’s it. Unless there is a very dark inference that we then kill an unconscious man before making our escape, I think we’ve not exactly fulfilled our contract. It should also not go without mention that we’ve ended our adventure with what has to be the lamest ended of the series so far, two sentences and a single word, I’d be amazed if it can be topped in it’s ”will-this-do?‘-ness’!

Suffice to say that this was the weakest book I have played so farIt is a toss-up with Scorpion Swamp if I’m honest, but even though that book made some bizarre and infuriating decisions based around a non-linear structure that didn’t quite work, it at least tried something new. Space Assassin didn’t even feel like I’d been on an adventure. One long straight corridor after another, another meaninglessly easy piece of combat, no real obstacles to overcome, I had it finished in a single sitting that left me thinking ‘is that it?’.

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Setting and story I quite liked, a Josef Mengele style sci-fi villain certainly has legs, it just didn’t use them. In-fact, he actually turned out to be an absolute pussy. Perhaps some of the padding that was added to the original script by the publishers helped make the experience feel so empty, I guess we will never know. My play-through did miss a few additional sections that were added by the publisher though, one being this puzzle from page 332 where you have to pick a path across the room and add up the numbers on the tiles along your path to give you a page reference. I have no desire to figure that one out!

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Also missed was some sort of future video-game which pitted you in tank combat against an AI across a grid system, the point of which I’m not entirely sure of!

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Less than spectacular illustrations seemed to pepper my route, but some better stuff was hidden away. Had I chosen to kill the small rodent scientists early on I would have been rewarded with this picture of my victims.

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And I can only imagine this interesting little scene would have greeted me if I’d somehow made my way to the surface of the surreal ‘outdoors’ section? Actually reminds me of the style we saw in the Sorcery series.

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Similarly crazy looking were these fellows…

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….and this guy who maybe failed the cut for Destiny.

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I was also glad to have avoided this monster, which may have been even more deadly opponent than the dreaded cleaners.

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One more illustration stood out to me as being particularly poor though, apparently this is supposed to be some sort of plant thing. To me it just looks like a mess.

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Anyway, Space Assassin is not a book I will remember with affection, as Bernard Black might put it, ‘Enjoy. It’s dreadful but quite short.’