Title: 2400 AD
Developer: Origin Systems
Publisher: Origin Systems
Year: 1988
Platform(s): Apple II, PC

Description:
2400 AD was created back when games were typically made by "one-man bands" - one person would do the programming, writing, and even the artwork. The one-man band in this case was Chuck Bueche, who had already worked as the programmer of Ultima III and Ultima IV, and been immortalized in those games as Chuckles the Jester. 2400 AD was a computer role-playing game that played in a very similar manner to the Ultimas but tackled a very different subject.

The game is set in the year 2400, when man has colonized other planets with the help of an allied alien race, the Tzorg. But the long alliance cracked, and now humanity and the Tzorg are at war. The various colony worlds that they created together are now caught in the middle. The player takes the role of one of the colonists of the world Nova Athens, which quickly fell to the Tzorg once the war started.

But now the Tzorg themselves have abandoned the planet, their attentions needed elsewhere. So the human colonists find themselves ruled by an authoritative computer and its robot minions. The populace must now carry identification cards at all times and check in every 2500 "ticks" of game time. Travel between city zones is strictly controlled. Weapons are forbidden. Robots roam the streets randomly checking for contraband. Any infraction earns the citizen a "social demerit"; five and the unlucky citizen disappears to be "reeducated". The Authority Computer Complex is unassailable and quickly creates new robots to replace any destroyed or damaged.

The situation looks hopeless, so naturally a resistance group of plucky humans springs up. The player will need to find this group, join them, and then aid them in their goal of shutting down the Authority Computer Complex.

My Opinion:
2400 AD did a good job of simulating life in a repressive alien environment...perhaps too good a job. Having to check in every 2500 ticks can get really annoying, as does getting your shiny laser pistol confiscated moments after you bought it. But the player that perseveres and learns how to subvert the city's systems is treated to a very different game than most hack & slash medieval RPGs. Another unfortunate aspect is that this game was released just as the VGA card was becoming popular, which made EGA games like this one look woefully outdated.

Notes:
Two versions of 2400 AD were created. The game was originally programmed on the Apple II and then later ported to the PC. When creating the port, Bueche took advantage of the additional power of the PC to fix a few bugs and also add some NPCs to the game with dialog that makes some information easier to find.

Related nodes:
Insert Coin
The Encyclopaedia of Computer and Video Games

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