TMC Reviews: CyberASSAULT

(Review Date: October 19, 1999)
TMC Reviewer: Lynne Hall
Mud Theme

CyberAssault is placed within a cyberpunk setting, with a hi-tech, cybernetic, neo-industrial environment, which replicates a futuristic version of earth. The background for this MUD is based on an invasion by aliens and the modification of people through biological, chemical, psionic and cybernetic means. The aim of the game is to have the highest body count possible and to kill and kill again. This is achieved through the provision of a range of weapons, armour, artifacts and skills that when appropriately combine enable players to become killing machines.

Mud Atmosphere

CyberAssault bears many similarities to a single user game, although getting into groups increases the possibilities, it is equally possible to play on your own. The player base of CyberAssault is tiny, I never saw more than 6 people online at any stage, so being able to get on without any assistance is actually very useful. The players I did speak to were helpful, but many of the other newbies are actually current players with new characters.

Players are not used to absolute newbies and some of the advice was incomprehensible and often in the form of mathematical sounding stuff, that initially I couldn't understand. However, they do try to help and if you don't mind saying "I don't understand that" on a regular basis, eventually people muttering "it's +3hnd" begins to make sense.

The players are a cheerful bunch and often the system wide discussions are about other games, films and real life stuff as well as requests for information about killing certain mobiles or finding equipment. In many ways, I felt that playing CyberAssault was like sitting in a gaming arcade with a group of people chattering on about this and that whilst they prepared themselves to go on killing sprees.

Mud World

The world is consistent with the cyberpunk ethos and offers lots of possibilities for exploration. The main town, Motown, has shops and social areas, such as nightclubs, hotels, etc. all with descriptions and inhabitants that are highly Gibsonesque and the descriptions are well-written. A variety of fighting areas are provided, these include a range of industrial installations, a neo-Chicago, an Amish community and so on. I found the fighting areas and victims a little repetitive and did spend considerable amounts of time killing the same things over and over again in similar areas. However, this changes at higher levels and the areas and mobiles become more exciting.

Although the aim is to maximise the body count, killing is necessary simply to obtain equipment that is of considerable use in improving a player's ability to kill. The equipment is well thought out and to become highly effective within this world, it is necessary to spend considerable time contemplating combinations of different types of equipment and how it affects your abilities. In relation to this, I did like the thematic consistency in terms of equipment and the necessary commands to use this. The modifications of commands and their integration with equipment gave an air of realism to CyberAssault, such as scanning with pocket identifiers and so on.

It is quite difficult at first to determine how the different equipment affects your abilities and to identify appropriate trade-offs. In this sense CyberAssault has a strong focus on tactical and operational considerations, with clear advantages for the strongly numerical? This is a good MUD for newbies, the "Boot Camp" is well thought out and not only does it provide a good introduction to CyberAssault itself, but also integrates many concepts of Mudding for the absolute beginner, with commands such as autoexit explained in a very absorbable way. Strategies for playing are also provided thus helping a new player to get started quickly. Levelling in the early stages is exceptionally fast and players will find themselves quickly approaching double figures (in a MUD with 30 levels). Advice about death traps, death, equipment and so on all enable you to rapidly start killing with a vengeance.

A limited number of classes are available, with players able to be borgs, stalkers, crazies and mercenaries. Although each of these has its advantages and disadvantages, stalkers are rarely seen and are weaker and less able than the other classes and players advised against this class? Although there are a variety of skills and abilities, some of these are of considerable use whilst others seem to have dubious utility, again other players are willing to help you in using your practices wisely. For the long term player, the remort possibility enables players to extend their characters into two "superclasses" predators and highlanders that offer a range of additional skills and abilities.

Additional Comments

Although this MUD is not new, with some players having played for 2+ years, it feels like a MUD that is in beta. A few missing features included the lack of a background story and a fairly poor help system. Although newbies are well supported in the Boot Camp, the help system requires that the player understands the tactical nature of the game. There is a tendency to assume a knowledge of statistics, basic tactical points and abbreviations, and a number of the help files simply left me puzzled. Immortal presence, at least during the times I played was non-existent. However, I got the impression that most people and probably the immortals as well, are around in the evening EST, which is possibly the preferable time to play.

CyberAssault in not a player-kill MUD and although it has a violent, vicious underlying theme, somewhat surprisingly there is a strong focus on respecting other player's rights to have fun, thus encouraging the player against the world, rather than player against player. This was positive in that it has produced a friendly, cheerful group of players running rampage in the world rather than battering each other. There doesn't appear to be any roleplay at all, people work together for the pure aim of killing as many mobiles as they can, with a strong focus on understanding and manipulating game mechanics, as the pile of bodies grows ever higher.

Summary

CyberAssault is a pure hack and slash MUD. If you like pitting yourself against the system and enjoy killing mobiles rather than other players in a cyberpunk setting, then it could be the MUD for you. Although it's all about killing, if you like numerical calculations and tactical considerations and enjoy game mechanics then it is sufficiently complex to make it interesting for the experienced hack and slasher. If you've never tried a hack and slash MUD, this offers a cheerful, friendly environment (albeit with a very small player base) which could be worth experimenting with.