Hands up if you liked Battlezone? Yeah, me too. I was never any good at it though. I actually really liked the Atari 2600 version. That was an entertaining blast.
Anyway, I mention it because Encounter is very much a Battlezone game, albeit with a bit of a twist. The basic gameplay is mainly similar, except for the fact there are no tanks to bother you. Instead you have two different types of saucers to battle, and that pesky homing missile.
As you would hope or expect, the landscape is littered with objects to avoid or hide behind. In this game, large black pillars are everywhere. Interestingly though, projectiles bounce off them. This adds an extra level of strategy (or danger) to the game, as if you're clever (or lucky) you can hit a saucer on the rebound.
Each level has a set number of targets to destroy. Once you've done this, a portal opens to another enemy-infested area. Unfortunately for you, in your cumbersome tank-like vehicle, the portal accelerates you to the speed of light (well, almost!) and is littered with objects. If you fail to avoid even one of these then the portal is disrupted and you're thrown out to redo the area you've just cleared.
Encounter introduced Paul Woakes to the world and it was one hell of an introduction. Whether you play it on the Atari 800 or Commodore 64, it's a lightning-paced shoot 'em up which is always a lot of fun to play. It was only the beginning for Paul as he went on, with just a handful of titles, to become one of the era's most legendary names.