Feel those old 'Nam wounds coming back

Fireforce logo

ICE * £25.99 * 1/2 meg * Joystick * Out now

Fishface leapt from the helicopter and landed face down in the mud. But that was no ordinary mud. It was the mud of a middle eastern country where Fishface knew he had a mission to complete. He had to go in, kill a guy, and get out alive again. That was his job. For Fishface was a Seal.

His mother had never quite understood, asking him why he wasn't in a circus balancing balls on his nose, but Fishface knew deep down inside that the Seals were the last hope for the civilised world. Or something.

Yes, you too can enter a war zone from the comfort of your own living room, thanks to those terribly obliging people at ICE. In fact, some of you out there may remember that Fire Force was originally developed by Electronic Zoo. But since their collapse, ICE stepped in and revamped the game before releasing it. If you did remember that, and no cheating now, give yourself two Brownie points.

Boot up your Amiga with Fireforce disk one in the drive, and hey presto! You're off. You can select an existing Seal or name one of your own, a new recruit. Then you are given several missions to choose from, including assassinating a Middle Eastner officer and destroying a bridge in a tropical war zone.

Equip yourself with a few guns, then tootle off to join the fray. You are deposited by helicopter and left to fend yourself in a hostile foreign environment, armed only with a machine gun, a handful of grenades and your packed lunch.
You have a set amount of time to complete the mission and arrive at the predetermined rendezvous point - the far right of the level - if you want to get out alive... otherwise, you'll be listed as Missing in Action.

Each level scrolls horizontally, and you walk right shooting anyone and anything you see. It's all a bit reminiscent of the 8-bit hit Green Beret, but that's no bad thing. It's actually surprisingly good fun, and the graphics and sound complement the action well.
If you complete the mission, you can go on to bigger and better things. If not, then it's a sad screen, a Purple Heart award, and a new character for you, matey.

Fireforce is a refreshing new addition to the world of wander-and-shoot games, and it's quite a competent program. So if you're the type of individual who likes nothing better than bobbing out and gunning down a few Arabs for breakfast, Fireforce could just be your thing.

Fireforce logo

Musclebound, violent crazed, aggressive, kill-first-ask-questions-later, crew-cutted hardnuts; lousy to meet when out with your girlfriend, great to play with when your girlfriend's chucked you. And so it is that Fire Force puts you in the size 12s of a selection of Navy Seals (the US army's version of the SAS) who are to TV's Take That! what a napalm strike is to a campfire. Yup, these guys are as hard as nail pie and they're hell-bent on successfully completing a series of tough, do-or-die missions.

So select which soldier you want to be, send him to the armoury to tool up with whichever particular weapons you feel you just won't be able to get by without and then select one of the four beginners' missions in which to strut your 'all in the name of peace and liberty' stuff.

A helicopter sound effect increases in volume as the disk accesses (nice touch) and you're into the thick of the action. If you paid attention at the mission briefing, you'll know what your mission objective is - if not, just slice, shoot or blow up anyone who gets in your way with a view to making it safely to the pick-up chopper at the end of the level. And, err... that's it.

Brains or brawn?
Actually, that's not fair - there's a fair amount to get your head around, and though you don't have to have a brain of Einstein's proportions to get through Fire Force, there are a few considerations other than the immediately apparent attacks of the enemy to take into account.

Firstly, which weapon should you use when? Ammo is strictly limited so your guns and grenades should be fired only when using your knife isn't practical (like when you're facing a machine gunner positioned on top of a building). Also, is it worth taking detours into buildings, tents and enemy installations to kill more hun in pursuit of power-ups and first-aid kits? After a while, you'll learn what can be found where, but it will take you some time to to memorise.

Controlling your ambassador of death is straightforward, though figuring out the different gun-angle options (you can fire your gun in any of three angles) and switching between your different weapons always seems to take a split-second longer than it takes an enemy to pull out his gun and blast you, but it's nothing that a bit of practice doesn't soon put right.

The action is fairly sedate in pace, but the control mechanism is attentive enough to enable you to react quickly to enemy movements and remain confident that if you die it's your fault - not that of sloppy programming. The sound is also good, with plenty of gruesome effects to accompany your dash to victory.

Anything goes
So where does this leave us then? Well, on the one hand it's got to be argued that after six years of Amiga games, you'd have thought that games designers should have progressed somewhere, but you're not going to see anything new here. But then there are those who'll happily argue back that 'if it ain't broke - then don't fix it' and start gleefully wibbling in about how Fire Force is how games are meant to be, and if peeps buy it, fair enough.

So although neither mould-breaking or spectacularly brilliant in any department, Fire Force is a highly competent platformer of the old school. There are no surprises to be found here, just good old fashioned run-crawl-shoot-stab gameplay.

So to conclude, if only Fire Force were released on budget then it would come highly recommended, but as a full-price game costing ß25.99 it's just about four years too late. Shame really - because it's really not that bad at all.

Sinnloses Blutvergießen

Fireforce logo

Wer unsere Messeberichte mit der gebotenen Aufmerksamkeit liest, erinnert sich vielleicht noch, daß diese Söldner-Metzelei eigentlich von Electronic Zoo kommen sollte. Doch der Pleitegeier war schneller...

Der elektronische Zoo hat also gerade noch rechtzeitig dichtgemacht, bevor man ihn für dieses jämmerliche Machwerk zur Verantwortung ziehen konnte. Daß es uns trotzdem nicht erspart bleibt, verdanken wir der übereifrigen Firma Ice, die das Game anscheinend auf den Markt geschleudert hat, ohne den Inhalt vorher eines Blickes zu würdigen.

Tja, so ist es halt niemandem aufgefallen, daß sich die Programmierer hier die nötige Feinarbeit gespart haben: Musik und (Kampf) Geräusche ertönen z.B. nur ganz sporadisch, oft herrscht minutenlange Funkstille.

Der Schwierigkeitsgrad ist so bestialish hoch, daß selbst der verbissenste Wohnzimmer-Söldner bald entnervt aufgeben dürfte - ein Großteil der Schuld daran trifft die zähe Steuerung, die dem Spieler kaum eine Chance läßt, der hektisch angreifenden Feindesschar Herr zu werden.

Schließlich ist das Game auch unnötig brutal, so daß ein Eingreifen der oft geschmähten BPS ausnahmsweise mal zu begrüßen wäre. Aber selbst wenn wir Euch einen Kauf unter diesen Umständen kaum empfehlen können, sollt Ihr noch kurz erfahren "was gewesen wäre, wenn...".

Sechs unterschiedlich hoch dekorierte Söldner, diverse Waffen und vier Missionen stehen zur Wahl; trotz des scheinbar vielversprechenden Angebots erschöpft sich die Action aber praktisch immer darin, mit dem ausgesuchten Helden von links nach rechts über den Screen zu laufen und alles niederzumetzeln, was sich in den Weg zu stellen wagt. Mit all den erwähnten Nachteilen, versteht sich. (C. Borgmeier)

Fireforce logo

Merciles mercenaries get a chance to be, well, merciless mercenaries, really.

Blimey, it's Green Beret! Haven't seen you around in a while, GB (or can I call you Bert, like we used to in the old days?). Must be all of nine years since you brought us that inimitable scroll-along knife-'em-up gameplay that actually turned out to be ver imitable indeed and provided the inspiration for hundreds and hundreds of lame beat -'em-ups, but we're not going to hold that against you.

You were, after all, a pretty decent little game in your own right, good for a good few bashes before the inherent repetitiveness made it all a bit, well, repetitive and dull, but the last thing I expected to see in 1992 (heck, nearly 1993) was you back again in a new hat.

It's quite a nice new hat, I have to admit. It's got a bit more colour to it, for sure, what with all the different terrains you find yourself crawling and stabbing your way across these days. There's sandy deserts, leafy forests, er, building-y cities and all manner of other backdrops, but if I remember rightly you were always a bit of a rough, tough no-nonsense kind of mercenary - it didn't really matter too much where you did your killing, as long as there was plenty of it to do.

There's more inside your hat than there used to be, too. No, I don't mean your brain, Bert, you're still as terminally thick as you ever were (I mean, come on, how many times are you going to fall for this old 'You're the only man that can do the job' schtick? You're the only man stupid enough to take the job on, they mean), I'm talking about the amount of different stuff you have to worry about these days other than where the next enemy grunt's coming from.

Slow to react, awkward to control

You've got to explore around a bit, choose your weapons at the start of missions, and, er... Well, it's a bit more involved anyway. And then of course, you've got today's modern, highly-trained, fantastically intelligent enemies to deal with now. Yep, I guess you've got to be pretty damn smart to be a baddie in these tough times. I mean, just for an example, look at those machine-gun tower dudes in this game.

Pumping bullets away merrily at you all the time, you can't blame them for the fact that they don't seem to be able to see you any more when you go underneath their towers. Mind you, I'm not sure that they shouldn't notice when you climb up the ladder into the tower and shoot them in the back of the head. Oh sure, they buckle at the knees for a second, but then they just stand up again and keep looking the wrong way until you've shot them another two times.

And as for the other ones that just all right over your head if you lie down in the sand in front of them... actually, maybe it's not so tricky being a mercenary these days, afer all. Maybe the fact of the matter is just that you're a crap, slow-to-react, awkward-to-control, dull old has-been trying desperately to look up to date but failing miserably.

Get away from me! And no, I haven't got any spare change.

Fireforce CD32 logo CD32

ICE * £25.99 * Out now

Wasn't Clint Eastwood in a film of the same name? Or was that Fire Fox? Anyway, this shoot-em-up is all rather gung-ho even by Mr Eastwood's standards - it's perhaps more in the Sly Stallone department.

As a soldier in the Navy Seals, your job is to wade through some deadly missions killing folk and generally having a whale of a time. But who is the walrus? Choose who you want to be - I wanted to be a tree but ended up as a soldier anyway. There is also a munitions store where you can pick some outrageous hardware for the purposes of death, such as knives, guns, bombs, you know the sort of thing.

After you've visited the store and got yourself suitably kitted up with various items of military hardware, you are dropped unceremoniously by parachute behind enemy lines, and left to get on with job.

Your range of weapons can be accessed by the joypad but it's best to use the knife whenever possible, because this means you can save all the really good stuff for later on. Mind you, when you are faced with a bloke leaning out of an upstairs window with a machine gun trained on your head, do feel free to use something a little more savage than the knife. Basically, you're there to smack, stab and shoot anything and everyone. And their friends. And relatives.

The graphics are big and bouncy. The sprites are huge and our chap is a real Rambo ringer. Unfortunately, Fire Force is all rather clumsy and faced with the enemy you occasionally find yourself grappling frantically and sometimes fruitlessly for your best weapon.

Although it's a competent enough shoot-em-up, Fire Force is a straight port from floppy (which is fair enough) and at £25.99, rather too expensive particularly when compared with the games that are being released for 15 sovs.

Fireforce CD32 logo CD32

Neuer Monat, altes Spiel: Auch der März bringt CD-Umsetzungen bekannter Amiga-Titel, die wir immer auf dieser Seite vorstellen - wo sonst?

Unverständlich, warum ICE ausgerechnet diese über ein Jahr alte Söldner-Metzelei auf CD gebannt hat! Theoretisch lenkt man hier einem Rambo-Verschnitt durch horizontal scrollende Wüsten und Kasernen, um vier Action-Missionen zu absolvieren - praktisch ballert man auf immer dieselben Panzer und Soldaten, wundert sich über die träge Steuerung bzw. den daraus resultierenden Schwierigkeitsgrad und ärgert sich über miese Grafik, lachhafte Animationen und einen popeligen Sound.

Satte 79 Märker will man für den Actionschrott, wert ist er gerade mal 27 Prozent.