The second of the Buck Rogers series of games done by Strategic Simulations, Inc, Buck Rogers: Matrix Cubed is a PC game produced in 1992 that continued where Buck Rogers: Countdown to Doomsday left off.

While the New Earth Organization (NEO) has thwarted the plans of the evil Russo-American Mercantile (RAM) to construct a doomsday weapon, the solar system is yet not at peace. NEO faces the difficulties of reinstating order and justice in the places where RAM's shadow falls- and while they suffered a sound defeat before, RAM is still quite capable of fighting. However, a way to save the war-scarred Earth has come into play- a scientist has stumbled upon the theory and research that can change matter directly to energy... and everyone, from NEO to RAM to the Mercurian Kings to the society for the Prevention of Unwanted Research and Genetic Engineering (PURGE) wants the perpetual-energy pie. Your job, as a group of seasoned NEO agents? Find the people with the know-how to actually create the Matrix Device while making sure none of the bad guys get a hold of it.

Matrix Cubed is a sequel in every way to Countdown to Doomsday- hell, you can even bring your favorite group of agents from Countdown into your Matrix game. Characters are built on principles taken almost directly from AD&D, including AC, THAC0, and the six traditional ability scores (plus a Technical score representing technical aptitude; this makes sense when one learns that SSI had produced a number of AD&D games prior to Matrix Cubed). The five basic classes return from the previous game: Warriors, general fighters with lots of hit points and the ability to specialize in weapons, Engineers, characters devoted to the technical specifics of working in a space-age society, Rocket Jocks, pilots of everything and anything with an engine, Medics, the ever-present doctors/healers and Rogues, the generalists who do a lot of sneaking and a little bit of everything else. A character's choice in race (Martian, Venusian, Mercurian, Desert Runner, Tinker, and pure-breed human) affects both the character's attributes and choice in class.

The game takes the player's team everywhere in the settled solar system- from the magnificent space stations circling the sun-baked Mercury to the swampy jungles of terraformed Venus, to lonely bases in the asteriod belt, and beyond to Jupiter itself. One of Matrix Cubed's subthemes is the ramifications of genetic manipulation- while it has enabled humanity to change itself to fit living on different worlds and even not on worlds at all, it has also created barriers between those who have the ability to create new forms of life, the gennies (game slang for creatures sentient and not grown for a specific work purpose), and those that would rather see both dead. Initially, RAM is the only real opposition- but as PURGE gains power on Earth by spreading their anti-gennie rhetoric amongst a frightened and leaderless human population, it becomes more of a danger to NEO's peaceful goals.

By the time the game is almost done, you've done most everything there is to do- and then, when the fight is won, the game ends. All in all, Matrix Cubed will not appeal to everyone, but those in the mood for a sci-fi-based retro D&D game should look it up.

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