>In Iron Helix the human race is locked in a cold war with an alien race, the Thanatosians. One of the human capital ships, the Jeremiah O’Brian is participating in a series of war games with other human ships.

Through some technical malfunction the Obrian’s central computer convinced itself into believing that a real war has been initiated. As a result the ship calculated an attack on a Calliope, a Thanatosian planet resembling the human homeworlds. The Obrian’s crew tried in vain to override the attack codes, but failed. The ship believed that the human crew was the enemy and deployed a ship security robot to terminate the its human commanders. The real worry is that Jeremiah O’Brian carries a devastating biological weapon, the Iron Helix. You (the player) are abroad a scientific explorer the Indiana, the only ship in the vicinity of the O’Brian, the only way to stop the O’Brian is to send an unarmed exploration probe aboard to somehow stop, or destroy the ship…

Helix runs and loads up from and from only Windows. The installation is rather lengthy, and results in the transferring of around 16 MB (almost exclusively) of sound files. I had only a few technical problems with this software, an occasional freeze-up, color distortion and a couple unplanned program terminations.


The Iron Helix game interface is a little sparse. The action screen makes up a whopping 1/5 of the screen, a vital statistic/computer jacking connection takes up another 1/5 of the screen. A control box with six directional arrows and pause, save, quit, and notes button accounts for 2/5 of the graphics and a 1/5 screen, map of the ships 6 decks that keep track of your probe and The Defender.

Helix plays well, if a bit rough. The general atmosphere of this game is futuristically dark, moody as you roam across deserted command consoles, service shafts and even the crew’s bathrooms and living quarters. This game has been compared to “Aliens” and “Pac Man”, and I see the connections very clearly, the ship has a intense “Aliens” feel to it and the gameplay does ::wince:: have some close ties to “Pac Man”. You have two enemies in Helix, time and the Defender. You have to stop the ship before it reaches Calliope, while you avoid The Defender robot (if it sees you, it zaps you; pretty simple) The game is played in a series of phases, the first phase is to locate strands of DNA for three of the highest ranking officers on the ship, the DNA can be found by scanning walls and control boxes around the ship. The DNA is used to gain access to different levels of the ships, an interesting concept and this part of the game is well done. The second phase is to locate two video messages left by the crew, before they were killed. The messages hold information on code sequences to destroy the defender and to destroy the ship, this part can be very frustrating and time-consuming. The third phase is to toast that Defender, some real fun as you’ve spent all of the game (up to this point) running away now you can activate computer sequences that will crush, trap or toss the defender out into space! The forth phase is to stop the ship, if you cannot do this in about five minutes, another Defender is launched (back to phase three).


Graphically, the ship is rendered excellently in high-res (640×480, 256 colors), which are fairly impressive even if the ‘action screen’ is very small. The sound effects are also very good, but background music is lacking. The title screen theme song was exceptional conservative-techno-thrash, but this unfortunately stops as soon as you begin to play. Helix scores high in just the plain interesting neatness it provides; roaming around a slab of military technology, while being pitting your wits against a machine, a killer. Warnings: Do not begin a game on the easiest difficulty level, the AI is much too weak and the game is completed much too soon. Also, the replay factor is minimal, 10-15 hours is all you might get leaving you (and your wallet) a bit hollow.




Iron Helix, tries to turn the industry around. It was designed during a period of time when the weaknesses of compact disc technology were being exposed; Helix’s creators at Drew Pictures decided to do something about some of those sprouting problems. DrewPix decided that one of the main flaws in most CD games is the crummy fps we get off many high resolution video images. The remedy that they came up with involved reducing the size of the view-box, where all of the first person navigation and movie clips are played. We may be grateful now for the slow-video fix that Drew Pictures has provided, but a year into the future CD drives will have become cheaper and more powerful, making the need for smaller graphical displays, obsolete.


Spectrum Holobyte


Windows 3.1, 8 MB RAM,
CD-ROM drive, Hard Drive,
VGA, Mouse, and Sound device

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