Burn baby burn

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TERRORISTS. Arn'cha sick of 'em? I mean, you have just got a little nation coming along quite nicely, when all of a sudden these blokes turn up and make a mess of the whole thing. Or another scenario: Small country, heavily repressed populace. They have the cheek to start up a free market economy based on the plants of the Erythroxylacese family. Nothing wrong with that, nice little earner, but for the fact that the extracts of the Erythroxylon plant just happen to make people go unhealthy happy and selfassured for a very short time, and then deeply unhappy. Yep, you guessed, it is cocaine I am on about.

Hey, but these things are no big deal. I mean, given a helicopter gunship and lots of other stuff, a guy could get rid of all those problems and still be in time for his morning expresso.

But The Powers That Be have thought of that, and would not mind if you got rid of some criminals hiding out at the North Cold, er, the North Pole, rescue some boat people, destroy some pinko commie subversive missiles, pledge allegiance, and tell some of those Middle Eastern types that, "Hey, we do not dig being shot at - that is our job!".

As you have probably twigged by now, Fire is not about being New Age and mellow about humanity in general. You (who else?) pilot the helicopter gunship called Fire (must have taken weeks of work to think that name out) and you have got to show that the right side of an argument and the safer end of a gun are one and the same.

You scroll along, in a pleasantly Defenderesque manner, shooting everything that you can. Isn't this a little uptight of you? Maybe you should be flying around giving flowers to people and saying that all this violence is very negative and all the guns should be melted down and poured back into Mother Earth and the Pentagon could be turned on its side and painted purple and there would be dancing and poetry and general being together. C'mon people, sing May The Circle Reamin Unbroken!

On the other hand, there is always the option of keeping doing what you are doing; chilling out is not an option. You could admire the scenery (it is very bright) and the defoliate it and burn the rest down. You could watch the other helicopters as they plummet groundwards like a machine whose dues is definitely ex. Look at the little village huts. Don't they look lovely in the afterglow of an evening's raid?

Fire is one of those deeply annoying games that does not let up the action or the noise all the time it is loaded. It starts with the obligatory (awful) French Guitar musick. It then goes on to a rather nasty helicopter taking off from an aircraft carrier bit, and then to the game itself. Once the game is over (very quickly, you only get one set of shields) it is back to the aircraft carrier bit.

To be fair, there are worse games than Fire. There are not many, though.

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NEW DEAL £29.95 * Joystick

Who said there were only seven stories? Well, it is looking more and more like there are only seven computer games. This five-stage, one-player game harks right back to those early days, the days of Defender.

You are in control of a helicopter, viewed side-on, moving across a horizontally scrolling landscape. The idea is to do good deeds on each of the five levels by destroying baddies who send jets, helicopters, tanks and so on against you. On the first level you are trying to put a halt to drug trafficking in South America, before moving on to rescue some innocents in Beirut.

It is all very similar stuff and it has been seen before. Everything is well animated and colourful and it has been well put together, but it is very dull.

Defender had something in it to get excited about ten years ago, and if a bit more thought had gone into the game design of this version it might have been turned out a bit better. Which is not to say it is complete rubbish by any means, but if you are really after a new shoot em up there are plenty of better ones to choose from around now.

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Der Schweiß strömt in Bächen über den Rücken hinab, die Hand hält sich verkrampft am Steuerknüppel fest, am Daumen bilden sich erste Blasen - Fire ist ein mörderisch schweres Ballerspiel!

Fünf wahnwitzige Missionen verlangen dem Spieler das Äußerste an Reaktionsvermögen und Geschicklichkeit ab. Es geht darum, mit einem Kampfhubschrauber über eine karge Landschaft zu fliegen und dabei feindliche Ziele zu zerstören.

Mal sind es Koka-Felder und Raffinerien der Drogenmaffia, ein andermal ein mit Rauschgift beladener Zug, U-Boote, Abschußrampen oder Industrieanlagen. Immer müssen sämtliche Bodenziele, aber auch alle angreifenden Helikopter vernichten werden.

Obwohl unendlich viele Continues zur Verfügung stehen, brauchen selbst fortgeschrittene Action-Freaks eine ganze Weile, um alle Missionen durchzuspielen. Nur allzu-oft kollidiert der eigene Hubschrauber mit feindlichen Helis oder gerät in deren Schußlinie. Manche der fliegenden Gegner hinterlassen bei Treffern Metallkapseln; sie enthalten zusätzliche Energie, Benzin oder eine Kanone, die Doppelschüsse abfeuert - andere Extrawaffen gibt es nicht.

Grafisch ist nichts Außergewöhnliches geboten: Der Himmel besteht aus blauen Streifen, die Landschaften aus grünen Baumreihen. Dafür weiß das Vier-Wege-Scrolling zu gefallen; selbst wenn sich noch so viele Sprites auf dem Screen tummeln, es ruckelt nie!

Auch der Sound geht soweit in Ordnung, wengleich er während des Spiels nicht mehr die Klasse der fetzigen Titelmelodie erreicht. Anders gesagt: Fire ist technisch zwar keine Offenbarung, kann aber trotzdem für geraume Zeit recht gut unterhalten. (C. Borgmeier)

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New Deal

It is hardly even amusing to see a game claiming have a sharp contemporary edge and then subsequently discovering that it is about as politically informed as Noddy. Fire reckons that it puts you into a world of drug busting, hostage rescuing, and boat people. In fact it turns out that the A-Team is more realistic. At least you can laugh at the manual. How would you like to 'destroy terrorist aviation and chimic manufactories of a warlike country in the NearEast? Me neither - Southend may be ugly but it does not deserve to have its airport nuked.

Gamewise, Fire is nothing special. It is a left and right horizontal scroller, with a passing resemblance to Star Ray - you fly a helicopter and you have to kill almost everything on screen. Fly five different missions, each set in an equally 'political' dodgy area, and it is split into two parts. The first part has you wiping out the heart of the problem. For example, in the Drugs!!! mission you have to destroy all the plantations but leave the villages and hot air balloons intact. In the second stage you have to fight a big nasty, in this case an armoured train carrying illegal drug supplies.

Graphically, the game is nice. It is fast and colourful and some of the sprites are arcade quality. There is five level parallax scrolling, as well as a bit of vertical scrolling, just to add a bit of height to the play area. The sound is not too bad either, with a soundtrack that - a little predictably for a European product - uses a sample of the word 'Fire' repeated in various pitches and tones.

It is fun - I won't deny that - but it is a little repetitive.

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Well, we're all much more aware of 'green' issues these days, aren't we? But who ever heard of an environmentally friendly shoot 'em-up!? Fire is the new healthy option in a man size portion from French publisher, New Deal Productions. CFC-Free David Wilson and Paul 'No Preservatives' Lakin showed us their green credentials. (Blimey! Tey should take those to the 'Special Clinic'! Ed.)

Fire has been produced by New Deal Productions, the guys responsible for the 'right on' Safari Guns reviewed in issue three. This awareness of current 'environmental concern' is also present in Fire, believe it or not.

Yup, while you're out there blasting all and sundry out of the sky, sea and polar ice cap, there are also many pertinent 'green' issues to bear in mind!

Here's the scenario... all the 'civilised' nations are well hacked off about all the naughtiness in the world. So without further ado they all collaborate on the design of one super-helicopter, codename 'Fire'.

Basically you get to sit in the hot seat of this helicopter with the mammoth task of righting the wrongs of the world. There are five missions ranging from annihilating the South American drug barons, to destroying a criminal organisation based at the North Pole. Let's hover a bit closer shall we?

Amiga reviewDavid: I'm fond of the French, erm... except for their toilets, that is. But this said, you can't deny that French software is... really weird! Fire is no exception. It's a shoot 'em up much in the P-47/Silkworm mould but it has to be a first. I mean who's ever heard of a 'right on' shoot 'em up?

Anyway, weirdness and environmental issues apart, Fire is a fairly competent if not very original multi directional shoot 'em up. Gameplay is a tad reminiscent of Silkworm - but not as good - without the two player option and with a bit of extra upward scrolling.

You only have one life but fortunately each time you fail you have an unlimited ten second credit option to continue. Using this, I had practically finished the third mission by my third sitting, so perhaps the life expectancy and consequently the value for money will suffer accordingly. Just an average addictive blast 'em up, I'm afraid.

Atari ST reviewPaul: Fire on the ST is a very different kettle of fish to the Amiga version and since David found that version to be 'average' this doesn't bode too well!

The impression of speed is sadly lacking and the helicopter sprite is short on detail and also quite dark, making it tricky to discern at low level. Furthermore the enemy helicopters move in a very unconvincing manner - sort of wobbling backwards and forwards, whilst firing vertically upwards through their rotor blades!?

The one thing that the ST version does have however, is the inclusion of the boat people which are sadly absent from the Amiga. These are the bits you shouldn't shoot, along with the whales 'dromedaries' (i.e. camels), 'local populations' etcetera, but since they insist on getting in the way it's a bit inevitable really.

Add these problems to the inferior sound and slower disk accessing, and you've just got a below average shoot 'em up that doesn't compare very favourably to P-47 et al.

The Top Three Instructions Which Have Lost Something In Translation.
  1. Don't shoot on dromedaries of bedoins which haven't done you anything.
  2. To be successful, you will have to... dwarf with bombs the plants of chimic products which supply the actors of wars in the neighbourhood with mortal gax killing innocent populations in excurcating pain.
  3. Save from the downfall Lebanon the fighters and civils who try to reach by swimming the accidental ships which cruise open sea in the bay.