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Thousands of years into the future a scout ship belonging to the Ethereals, an inter- galactic space police, venture into a distant corner of our galaxy. The Ethereal scouts come from a civilisation which is advanced and peace-loving, and are on a mission to rid the universe of violence. They are both surprised and saddened, then, to find that in this hitherto unexplored sector planet after planet has been decimated by war and its after- effects.

They travel deeper into this star system and find twenty four decimated worlds, the results of years of conflict that still continues between four separate races: the direct, rumbustious Earthlings; the subservient, sly Saurians; the laid-back Bohemians, and the take-no-prisoners Schnozzoids. each of which are all aiming to dominate the other three races by whatever means possible.

While these space travellers are dedicated to the pursuit of peace, they are infinitely more powerful than any other being in the universe. They abduct all of the planetside members of the alien races, the specialists who were put there to investigate the workings of the planet and set up a base there, and imprison them. The leaders of the four races are understandably annoyed by this, but after a display of the infamous Killing Stick by Kkka Sidrik, the Ethereal High Commander, they decide not to pursue the matter and make it known that they would never normally fight or do anything nasty, while thanking the Ethereals for their help and expressing the hope that the wayward individuals who caused this war would rot in hell.

The Ethereals, though, are into all things peaceful, and after a short time they feel that the specialists, who have now been banged up in stir for several years, would have paid their dues to the Galaxy. Releasing them on community service, they split the races up into teams and send them down onto the still-charred planets, confiscating their weapons but providing them with the means to rebuild the eco-system for that planet. They offer the teams a challenge: complete freedom to the team which does the best job, eternal damnation to those that fall behind.

The teams, now planetside, are not overly keen on working with their old arch-enemies, but having been disowned by their peers they have no choice but to play along with the Ethereals. While they wouldnt want to harm the other members of their own team, if the chance came to nobble a member of another team, who happened to be from a different race, they might just take it. With no weapons available the only option is invent new ones, but it is apparent to everyone that if the Ethereal see anything but peaceful building and creating, your team will pay a heavy price.

Then inspiration comes to you - if you already have the ability to biologically engineer creatures to top up the eco-system, why not extend it to create killer creatures to dispatch your enemies for you? Should the peace-keepers hear of it, of course, you can always claim that these rabid creatures were just an unforeseen aberration.

The only problem is that the other teams have come to the same conclusion, and are busily creating their own killer creatures somewhere on the same planet. They quickly realise that its still war, but this time its sneaky and underhand; your aim being to use your mutant creatures to crush and obliterate your opponent teams.

In time-honoured tradition, Bullfrog have taken the concept of a war game, added a spoonful of god game and topped it up with a healthy helping of humour to create a program which is original, amusing and very playable.

Colourful SVGA graphics belie the serious business of annihilating the opposition, while the atmospheric soundtrack adds yet another dimension to the game.

Gene Wars will be released by Bullfrog Productions and distributed world-wide by Electronic Arts. Gene Wars will initially be released on PC CD. Other format and price details to follow in due course.

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