To start the game, you choose Start from the Options menu. This menu also features several difficulty levels you can choose from--Commander, Warrior, Pilot, and Novice. Once the game is started, the first thing to do is locate where all of your star bases are. They appear as green dots on the view screen in the middle of your control panel. The object of the game is to destroy your enemies before they surround and destroy your star bases. The enemies are clusters of orange dots on the view screen. Learning keyboard commands is important, as most functions are carried out this way. The S key turns on shields, which is very important to keep you from being wiped out with a single direct hit. You have a targeting computer which is activated with the C key. The H key warps your ship at light speed into another sector. You can tell what sector you are in by looking at the view screen. The orange triangle is where you are currently located. After you've warped to an enemy sector, you must be prepared to engage the enemy.
The game play for the ST version of Star Raiders is not as exciting as other versions of the game. Unlike the 2600 version, where you are engaged with very fast, skilled enemy pilots, ST Star Raiders feels more like shooting at orbiting satellites. The enemies are usually drifting aimlessly toward you from a distance and seem to have no artificial intelligence or maneuvering capability. You aim your targeting crosshair at them and shoot them like fish in a barrel. It is not uncommon to be able to pick one off in the far distance when it appears as a motionless spec in the center of your crosshair. The higher difficulty levels of play are more exciting, with enemies swarming in front of and behind you, usually with deadly and accurate photon attacks. Another aspect of the game play is the ability to use the number keys to control the ship's speed, as it is necessary to occasionally dock your ship at a star base for recharging and repair.
There is no music in this game, but the sound effects are pretty good. The explosions, as is usual for the ST's sound chip, are very shallow sounding. The sound of firing your photon torpedoes, hyper warping, and other sounds are quite suitable for their respective tasks. I just wish there were someway for the programmers to get more realistic sounding explosions from the sound chip.
This game is a classic on the Atari 2600/800 and is beautiful to look at
on the ST. The game play isn't as realistic and exciting as the 2600
version. The enemies just don't seem like very skilled pilots. Game play
consists of simply aiming your ship at the enemy and firing the photons,
except on the higher difficulty levels. I love the way this game looks,
and although it is rather boring on the Novice difficulty level, it does
indeed get quite a bit more exciting on the Commander level. If you
enjoyed other versions of Star Raiders, you should definitely
check this one out.