A dangerous undercover mission on a wild and lawless planet!
Author: Andrew Chapman
Illustrator: Nik Spender
Cover Illustrator: Terry Oakes
"Corruption is rife in the Aleph Cygni system and the flow of the illicit
narcotic Satophil-d from the spaceports of the planet Kether has grown
to enormous proportions. Several attempts have been made to crack the notorious
drug rings of Kether, with no success. Now the Galactic Federation has
entrusted YOU with this dangerous undercover mission in this wild and lawless
place. But will YOU succeed?"
The Fighting Fantasy Gamebook concept always seemed to work better with medieval fantasy adventures, rather than science fiction. This is not to say that all science fiction based adventures were turkeys though. Fighting Fantasy number 15, The Rings of Kether, along with Fighting Fantasy number 18, Rebel Planet, were probably the best of the science fiction bunch overall.
Set far away in the Aleph Cygni system, in a science fiction, space travelling future. You assume the role of a Galactic Federation Narcotics Investigator, trying to investigate and smash the illegal Satophil-d smuggling rings of the planet Kether. Described as 'A dangerous undercover mission on a wild and lawless planet!', you've certainly got your work cut out...
After landing your spaceship at Kether's Spaceport, it's off investigating here and there, in typical Sherlock Holmes fashion. You start by checking out the bars for local contacts and information, spying on secret warehouse meetings, greasing palms with bribes, kicking smuggler butt and all that. All the while, trying to infiltrate the Smugglers' operation and find the 'Big Cheese' in charge of the whole show!
I've never thought that this book is that bad. While it certainly isn't on the same level as Fighting Fantasy number 5, 6 or other 'classics', Andrew Chapman made a decent job of it overall. Adding a novel twist, [there is] two possible endings to your mission, depending on which path you take!
I thought that the writing is not too bad either, the book moving along at a fairly comfortable pace. You also get a good feeling of being a Narcotics Investigator, or 'Fed', with a strong path of clues and leads to follow throughout the entire adventure. This tends to give you a sense of direction and purpose, making the whole investigation more realistic. If you want to read a Fighting Fantasy Gamebook, written in a similar vein, but not as good, try Fighting Fantasy number 27, Star Strider.
We also get a chance to explore two of the Smugglers' secret bases, take a spaceship ride through mine-infested asteroid field and drive in an interesting high speed road chase, in a car-like vehicle called a Sloop!
As usual, there are the bad points, one of these being the opponent strength. This adventure really isn't too taxing in that respect. You can get away with it most of the time, considering your enemies are infrequent and not very tough. You're also provided with PEP pills, which makes healing even easier.
Another thing that I didn't like was the weakness of the main enemies. When you do confront the 'Mr. Big', who controls the smuggling rings, and his overweight lieutenant, they're really not too hard to beat! Not only that, as you intend to arrest them, you have to fight them in hand-to-hand combat! Apparently because you can't risk killing them (gasp)! Maybe it's all that Orc slaying in other Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks, but I'd have preferred to mete out justice in the typical 'blow 'em away' style!
One last thing I didn't like was the use of 'normal' names. I think that all characters in a futuristic, science fiction adventure, should have futuristic, science fiction names. 'Blaster' Babbet is ok, but Arthur and Clive... Doh! I felt that this only ruined the atmosphere...
Overall, I'd say that this Fighting Fantasy Gamebook is average, not bad, but nothing exceptional either!
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