In the thirty-fifth century A.D. the human race spread capillarly throughout the Galaxy, as a consequence of this rapid expansion, contacts with other alien species have become increasingly frequent. The interaction with these new sentient races has led to significant scientific and cultural progress, but above all to a progressive intensification of trade, which , over time, have become increasingly profitable and diversified. In the game we are the commander of a merchant spaceship, whose mission is to transport the most disparate products from one end to the other of the Milky way. Unfortunately , although the work is not lacking and the prospects for the future are bright, things are anything but idylllic, not so much because of the very high running costs, but above all because of the rampant piracy that afflicts the major trade routes. To face this threat, cargoes have become increasingly mammoth and sophisticated, and therefore increasingly difficult to govern. In fact, the presence of a well-trained crew is indispensable to manage ships of this wide proportions.

Psi-5 Trading Company an interesting real-time simulation that , in fact, puts us at the command of one of these crews. At the beginning of the game we are offered the possibility to select three possible destinations, each of which contemplates a different perishable load to be delivered within a certain time limit, a greater distance to be covered and a compensation proportional to the risk in which it will be divided, to each choice, in other words, a more demanding level of difficulty will correspond. Once the destination is decided, therefore the nature of the cargo and our remuneration, we shall carry out the lequage for the mission, each selected member will deal with a particular compartment of our merchant. Each screen presented to us, five for the record, one for each sector of our interest, offers us six possible candidates to choose from. Of course, for each character we have a real curriculum vitae to evaluate, in which, in addition to age and race, also include the professional qualifications obtained, the studies supported, the previous work experiences, the attitudes, the characteristic character character and the inevitable behavioral defects. The choice of the crew will be of crucial importance for the success of the mission, the presence or otherwise of some characters to evolve the various situations of play in the most unthinkable ways. Once we confirm our choice, we will begin the game itself.

As a vessel commander, we have the task of supervising the activities of the various crew members, this task consists mainly in receiving service communications from the individual sections of the vessel and in issuing the appropriate orders to deal with any type of situation. The control station is characterized by two large monitors and by a series of indicators that instantly provide the status of the most important on-board systems, in particular: the speed of cruising, the state of arms, the presence or absence of defensive shields and the sector of origin of each message. The first display gives us a view of what happens in the immediate vicinity of our spaceship, among other things with a perspective that changes periodically. This, in addition to showing us the motion of the stars and the numerous spaceships of passage, will also allow us to witness the many conflicts that characterize our long journey. On the adjacent screen, our interlocutor, who is responsible for a particular compartment of the ship, is displayed.

Through the navigator we establish the strategy to be used during the journey, since the destination has already been decided when the mission was selected. By giving it suitable orders we modify both the cruising speed and the trajectory to follow, in particular we decide, for example, the shortest route, the longest one or several other intermediate possibilities. Each choice is proposed to us in the form of a hierarchical priority list, in which we simply have to put at the top what we prefer most. The pilot , of course, do everything in his power to support our will. Each item in the list includes a particular cruising speed, a certain distance to cover, a certain duration of the journey and a different percentage of risk, the latter being understood as the probability of being attacked. This choice must not be underestimated in order to ensure the success of the mission, but must also be carefully considered because of the purely perishable nature of our precious burden. Depending on how the situation evolves, we will be forced to change it several times during the course of the game, often also using evasive maneuvers to keep the countless space pirates at bay.

During the course of the journey we will often encounter spaceships for the most unknown, in order to avoid being caught by an unexpected attack, we will analyze them beforehand by issuing appropriate directives to the sensor manager. Through these, we systematically examine all ships in our immediate vicinity, for each objective we assign a certain level of importance and, once the relevant analysis phase has been completed, we obtain a series of information concerning its position with respect to our position, distance, intentions (friendly or not) and, in the case, even the most effective weapon to damage it. To defend ourselves against enemy attacks or, if not, to be the first to start hostilities, we exploit the skills of our artillery. Once the various targets have been acquired, he will systematically focus on them, provided that they have previously been identified with the sensors of the ship. For each enemy we will establish the priority of attack, the weapon to be used (cannons, lasers, missiles or other) and finally also the mode of shooting: At will or through a certain number of shots.

The performance of motors, sensors, weapons, protective shields, and many other on-board systems is determined by a particular system that distributes the energy produced by the spaceship reactor. THE amount of such an energy supply also determines the degree of operability of a particular device, understood as: Fully operational, partially operating or finally deactivated. Through the on-board engineer we modify the distribution of energy according to our needs, so as to have, for example, a more sustained cruising speed or a greater power of shields and weapons in the presence of some conflict. Here, too, everything is decided from a list of headings where we place at the top the areas we prefer to give priority. When necessary, generally in the most critical situations, we can also decide to deactivate the non -indispensable systems, so that more energy is redirected to the most important ones.

Damage is repaired by instructing the head of mechanics . The numerous systems that characterize the ship can suffer three types of failures: A simple malfunction, a recoverable damage or complete destruction, for the latter case, of course, there is no remedy whatsoever. Every device that has failed, or is not working properly, we assign a particular "Robodroid", a special automaton that only deals with a precise repair, the game makes seven available. Then, we also decide the priority for each intervention, so that we can differentiate them in order of importance. Each repair, in addition to requiring a high power output, will also take some time to complete. The various compartments of the vessel can be destroyed completely, the lot, however, will terminate prematurely only in the case of an approach and consequent theft of the entire load. The amount of the residual load will be indicated by a specific percentage.

For the rest, Psi-5 Trading Company basically consists in being able to navigate wisely between all these management aspects, certainly a business far from easy, to put it mildly, especially in the most difficult routes. Part of the challenge is also to identify the best possible combination of crew members, taking into account, of course, each job and character. From this point of view, in fact, the most impulsive characters will tend to get into trouble by hasty brisking the most disparate situations, as well as other more reflective ones, on the contrary, they will have to be caught up too much on what to do.

Technically, although most of the screens that make up the game are characterized, more than anything, by text cards, Psi-5 trading company not exactly to be thrown, at least as regards the graphics used to portray the features of the different members of the game. Beyond purely caricatural style, each character presents, in fact, some nice animations aimed at depicting his duties and the particular emotional state in a given situation. The details of the display through which we observe the surrounding space, such as the spaceships that move there, the projectiles and explosions, on the other hand, are far from the state of the art, even for a title made in such a remote era. The action is accompanied by a series of tunes which are most satisfactory and a handful of sound effects which are at least effective, although nothing to write home about even at this moment.

Psi-5 Trading Company - Commodore 64 - Video gameplay


" The only thing I feel I am raising up against Psi-5 Trading Company is that it is a high "randomization" of its gaming situations. Perhaps it would have been better to devise a system of events linked to a simple logical thread, perhaps different for each route , rather than leaving everything in the hands of the case. Sometimes, in fact, they will be fiercely attacked from the initial strokes , as well as not having any problems for long periods, as proof of the imbalance in this sense. On the other hand, this aspect which , at first sight, would seem to be a gap, in fact the backbone of the whole production, since it exponentially increases its longevity, although the non-accustomed to the genre could find it, however, a little monotonous in the long run. Despite these considerations, there is still an undeniable originality at the base of Psi-5 Trading Company, which makes it one of the best and most innovative simulations ever."