Good news, everyone! Cyberstorm is back!
And by back, I mean rescued from relative obscurity and decay in the wastes of abandonware.
Dynamix’s mecha milieu gave rise to the magnificent shazbottery of Starsiege: Tribes, but prior, it was known as Metaltech and featured far less capturing of flags. An inspired off-brand Battletech of sorts, the series played a mighty fine second fiddle to the Activision/FASA goliath. There was a trilogy of true mech sims pumped out between 1994 and 1999, before transitioning exclusively to the world of jetpacks and disc launchers.
Forget alpine skier-sniping for the moment, though. In 1996, Dynamix created turn-based Metaltech spin-offs in MissionForce: Cyberstorm and its lesser 1998 sequel, Corporate Wars. Both have thumped back into viability via a Samaritan named Matthew Jonn Jernigan.
I know I am far from being any sort of guru on fixing up old computer games… but I do enjoy my small victory here with these patches.
And so the story goes. Jernigan drilled down into a number of old Sierra titles, including the Metaltech titles, and managed to resuscitate them with a number of patches that don’t require wrappers or virtual machines. Clean and efficient for the most part, though the associated documentation is detailed and has a number of ‘if x happens, try y‘ threads.
Outside of the detailed jargon, it’s magnificent to see at least the original Cyberstorm playable again. I’d tried in vain to boot it six ways from Sunday a few years ago, and had always run into errors beyond the capacity of mere compatibility toggling. Like a lot of titles from the post-DOS, pre-Win7 era, many of these titles are mongrels to get working on modern systems. Jernigan is the hero I selfishly need and deserve.
If you’ve not played MissionForce: Cyberstorm, it’s a terrific title not too dissimilar to a Battletech tabletop experience, albeit less crufty. The campaign has you building and maintaining fleets of HERCs (Metaltech’s paper-thin yet litigation-free variation on mechs), breeding their ‘bioderm’ pilots and running a raft of tough and varied missions.
The sequel features some interesting overhead strategic musings, but dropped the tungsten ball in opting for grids in place of the original’s hexes. Combat became far more simplistic, and if anyone recalls the bungled leap from M.A.X. to M.A.X.2, stirring (admittedly optional) real-time combat into a turn-based system doesn’t always work out.
Both games are victims of Dynamix’s liquidation under Sierra, itself shuttered by the crushing grip of Vivendi’s restructuring in the early 2000s. Physical copies go for a song online, but with a bit of gentle googling, you could ‘trial’ either title with wild abandon[ware].
The patches for Cyberstorm, along with other lost Sierra efforts can be found here.