Cisco Heat logo

If you're going to San Francisco, be sure to wear a flower in your hair". This is what Scott McKenzie told you. But if you're going to play Cisco Heat then forget about the flower, drive like a nutter and sound your horn continuously. This is Image Works' somewhat different plea.

Here we have a police race-and-chase arcade that's set on the streets of San Francisco - a Jaleco coin-op production! The California Highway Patrol have sealed off the roads in the city centre for a charity race to find the State's best police driver. There are no real rules to this race, other than finishing each of the states within the allotted time limit, so breaking the speed limit, crashing and sounding your horn in a built-up area are all perfectly permissible.

Golden Gate
As the race revs up, you're offered two cars to drive. One's a classic cop black 'n' white which is fast but can't turn very easily, while the other is a modern roadster which corners well but lacks pace. No sooner have you chosen your chariot than the lights go green and the tyre screeching starts.

Racing is all about screaming along at full whack, dodging both the other competitors and rubber neckers who've strayed on to the course. Your fellow officers have to be avoided but fortunately sounding your horn swiftly encourages the civilians aside. It's like drag racing in a London cab, with the accelerator and horn in constant use.

San Francisco lends itself this dramatic car duel for two righteous reasons: it has spectacular hills which add that roller coaster feel to the race, and like most US cities all the corners are on right angles. So, while dodging the trams and the traffic you also have to be ready for 45 degree slopes and 90 degree bends! The road obstacles and corners dominate Cisco Heat. You have to be able to spot trouble in the distance if you want to win and as the race progresses, obstacles line up to form traps that require quick stick flicks to avoid. The corners are simply a matter of timing and faith, point the motor at the right second, then hope to pull it straight on the other side.

Muscone Centre
Cisco Heat works well. The roads flash by pretty swiftly, if not exactly smoothly, and the rolling hills are as good on the computer version as they were on the arcade. The controls are positive, thoughtfully condensed from two pedals, steering wheel and gear lever into joystick and keyboard combinations. They take a little while to get the hang of but leave the drivers free to concentrate on their direction and not their driving.

The driving has translated nearly as well as the control system, retaining the nip and tuck feel that was so effective in the arcade. In the corners though, the conversion falls foul. On the coin-op you had to wrench the wheel around and hang on for grim death as the pneumatically-juddering wheel fought to break your grip. On the Amiga these tense trials are reduced to mild timing tests. The corners were Cisco Heat's primary claim to arcade fame, an effect that marked it out from the car-based coin-ops. And without them the conversion loses power.

Although it really tries to make the racing grade it falls short in certain key areas. Arcade racers in general, rarely offer enough variety to sustain long-term gaming interest and Cisco Heat is no different. It doesn't have enough new tricks to throw at drivers to make the later stages a challenge. This makes Cisco Heat predictable and exposes the game's final, fatal, flaw: it's too short. Good sprite drivers will finish this course in a matter of hours and even average stick wielders should only take a little bit longer.

Nob Hill
The Amiga racing world at the moment already makes the M25 somewhat deserted, so new car games have to offer something special if they are to survive the comparison with Lotus II - the reigning champion. Cisco Heat has little to offer except the similarity with its arcade parent; and while it retains the arcade's brevity it loses the coin-op's cornering challenge. Sure, blasting through down-town San Francisco is amusing in the short term, but short-term is all you get.

Cisco Heat logo

Frei nach Jalecos Automatenvorlage hat Image Works das Polizistenrennen quer durch San Franzisko nun auf dem Amiga inszeniert - wer wird der "Schnellste Cop der Stadt"? Und vor allem: Warum sollte das überhaupt jemand werden wollen?

Die Frage ist durchaus berechtigt, kann Cisco Heat der Rennspiel-Konkurrenz doch eigentlich in keinem Punkt die Schlußlichter zeigen. Das beginnt schon mit der Auswahl des Boliden: Zwei stehen zur Verfügung, Unterschiede im Fahrverhalten sind aber kaum auszumachen, und beide gibt es ausschließlich mit unhandlicher Zweigangschaltung.

Ähnlich "abwechslungsreich" ist auch der Rest des Games, egal ob man über die Golden Gate Bridge, durch China Town oder Twin Peaks (ausnahmsweise ohne Laura Palmer und Konsorten...) düst, spielerisch kann keiner der fünf Level überzeugen - viel Verkehr und die üblichen Ölpfützen auf der Fahrbahn halt. Weder läßt sich die Route an den Kreuzungen frei bestimmen, noch die Karre nachträglich aufrüsten, allein, daß die Hupe so manchen Pistenrowdy verscheucht, ist ein bißchen originell. Auch sind die unfair hinter Bergkuppen versteckten Straßensperren echte Bleifuß-Killer, das Zeitlimit schmilzt wie Schnee in der Sonne, und selbst die drei Continues sind schnell verbraucht.

Es gibt also reichlich sehenswerte Crashs zu sehen - sooo sehenswert, daß man sie sooo oft sehen möchte, sind sie allerdings auch wieder nicht!

Ja, die 3D-Grafik ist generell hübsch gezeichnet, jedoch arg ruckelig animiert. Auch die Titelmusik klingt ganz gut, nur während des Spiels fallen sowohl Musik als auch Effekte eher unterdurchschnittlich aus. Alles in allem versprüht Cisco Heat den Charme eines Kolbenfressers... (rl)

The Mirrorsoft swan-song zooms in.

Cisco Heat logo

Well, I've been playing Cisco Heat coin-op which sits in pride of place beside the coffee machine to death ever since I won it for us a few weeks ago (only to have to give away to some undeserving wretch - er, lucky reader - but that's another story), so I'm just about to tell you how good a conversion of it this Image Works licence is. Oh dear...

Okay, so being nothing like it's parent coin-op doesn't necessarily mean something is a bad game per se. And indeed Cisco Heat isn't a bad game. The graphics are a bit small and a bit crude (supposedly accurate maps of the real San Francisco area) bear no resemblance to the arcade ones whatsoever after the first level (which itself has only a tenuous grip on the coin-op's first stage), but the essential nature of the manic driving experience remains unchanged. The hills and dips which are such a major part of the ' Frisco landscape are still there, and they work surprisingly well - you really do get that stomach-lurching feel as you fly over the top of a particularly steep incline. The speed - that other crucial prerequisite of the good racing game - is also of a more than acceptable level, but after that things start to go wrong...

First and foremost, the control system is absolutely horrible. Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge set the standard with it's natural and friendly 'fire-button-to-accelerate' method, but Cisco Heat is stuck way back in the Dark Ages. The constant need to have the joystick wrenched forward to keep the car moving is stupid and unnecessary, and gets physically painful after a couple of games.

Changing gear is accomplished by centring the stick and then moving it backwards and forwards with the fire button held down, believe it or not, and generally the control makes the game twice as hard and half as enjoyable to play as it should be. Mind you, there could be a reason for it - like the coin-op, Amiga Cisco Heat features just five levels. While the arcade game was tough enough to make completing all five a pretty challenging long-term task, most halfway-decent players will finish this inside a day. Even if you don't, the dullness (in terms of there being anything new or different to see) of the graphics in the later stages is unlikely to have you clamouring madly to get to the end.

It's not just graphics either, the variations introduced towards the end of the coin-op to keep interest alive (like the option to take a different route at certain points) have been totally done away with, as has the lovely and dramatic double-decker bridge section. What's left is, frankly, nowhere nearly enough entertainment for your money.

Cisco Heat logo

Arcade manufacturers have come up with some pretty unlikely excuses for race games in the past, but Jaleco's Cisco Heat takes some beating. Set in California's celebrated city the action centres around an annual race through the city's streets featuring units from the local police department. This will, no doubt, strike a chord with some of the flat-foots who delight in tearing about the streets of our towns and cities, but may mystify the rest of the population.

The race takes place across five timed stages through various areas of the city. You begin at the Golden Gate bride before tearing across to Fisherman's Wharf in the docks, Union Square, the Moscone Centre, somewhere known as Twin Peaks, and Treasure Island.

The thing is, no one seems to have bothered to inform the local population that there are going to be dozens of squad cars tearing about the place, because there is traffic everywhere in the shape of cars and lorries, not to mention SF's famous yellow trams. Squeezing the fire button sounds a horn causing non-competitors to shift out the way, but that doesn't account for the taxis who choose to pull out in front of you, or the roadworks and cones spread around the streets. Add to that the sharp ninety-degree turns that loom up and you have your hands full staying on the road and making the check points for each stage.

San Francisco is convincingly recreated - you couldn't be anywhere else as you race up the hills, taking off over the rises and crashing down onto the car's axle. The graphics are colourful, but you often get a less-than-3D sense of the lorries and cars you pass, particularly when some materialise from cones and trees. The scrolling too, is less than breathtaking, particularly at top speeds.

This may be a conversion of a '91 coin-op, but it offers little in the way of new thrills that haven't been seen before in Sega's Outrun variants and none of the humour of the likes of APB. But most importantly, when you compare it to recent race sims like Geoff Crammond's Grand Prix you'd be hard pushed to find any authentic appeal in it. Just another average conversion in fact.