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Pipeline

Published by Superluminal
Price $19.95
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Primary Genre Secondary Genre

This week Bytten reviews an old game. I don't mean because it's been in our queuing system for a while (!) but rather that this game is based upon an old idea, revamped for today's world.

A typical day's work as a plumber. Pennies and dollar bills are worth a lot of bonus points - but gems even more so.

In Pipeline, your task is to construct a route for water to flow along. After a short delay, a faucet turns and water starts to flood into the level. You select segments of pipe from two conveyor belts to connect the faucet to a drain, scoring bonuses for going both ways through cross pieces, snaking through S bends and collecting bonuses. To complete each level you must "qualify" by scoring enough points. This is (initially at least) not too difficult - though the more pipework you lay down the more points you need to score.

Many items can help in this task - gold sections of pipe score twice the points, fire hydrants slow down the water, clocks give you extra time - often the biggest danger is over-elaborate construction! If you've finished your creation (or abomination) you can "speed up" the water to avoid waiting.

Those locks in the top left will disappear if the water passes through the key. Sprinklers provide regular bonus points - twice as many if you loop them.

In true retro style Pipeline is all about blocks - a big chunky grid in which pipes are placed! Yet despite this simplistic format these are good quality graphics, with floating scores fading away as bonuses are reached and smooth scrolling parts on the conveyor belts. The score below reflects the genre and style - while far from photo-realistic, the graphics might look daft if they were.

Sound consists of two music tracks (one regular, one bonus round) which I feel unable to comment on at length as they were created by a fellow reviewer! These tracks fit the ambience and repeat well - a shame there are only two. I would have liked more. Sound effects are plentiful, from the painful squeak of the faucet to the flow of water, not to mention the drilling of pipe segments and the almost disturbing giggles for bonuses on S-bends and cross pieces. Voice effects also feature for some bonus items and level completion/qualification.

Pipeline is an easy game to learn. New items are introduced over the first ten or so levels, so initially you start with just pipes and then learn what all the bonuses do (you can turn the hints off if you're already familiar with the game). Three difficulty levels are available. Quitting the game automatically saves your progress (and score) and with ninety levels this is very useful!

One odd thing I found with Pipeline - my laptop, the primary computer for my reviewing, ran the game very slowly and thus made it very easy. Huge delays were also common on completing levels. But, when installed on the desktop machine, everything whizzes along and the intended sense of urgency is there. Strange. I'm not sure if just my laptop disagrees with it - see how you go with the demo.

This is a game that will keep you entertained for a while and which captures the old school idea that gameplay is more important than content - yet keeps that content at a high standard throughout. Now go download it and get plumbing!

Graphics 88%
Sound 90%
Playability 90%
Longevity 85%
Overall Score 88%
Silver Star

Published on 30 Jun 2006
Reviewed by Andrew Williams

Keywords: pipeline review, superluminal reviews, superluminal games, pipeline scores, pc game reviews, indie game reviews, independent gaming.

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