Bring on the girls

Soldier 2000 logo

SO it has come to this: the horror hostage scene of the future. Who exactly caused it is immaterial. Was it the Milton Keynes Liberation Army, was it the Free F. de Klerk movement? Who cares? Someone, somewhere, has captured a balding, fat, businessman, so the crack anti-terrorist team is going on.

You control a squad of fit, high-trained, ruthless brutal, cute girlies. I know they are cute because I saw one in her bikini at the arming stage, where everything starts. OK, so these girlies are pretty tough, but they are still human, so they cannot carry everything. Heavy items will slow them down until they are so overladen they cannot stand up. You will not be allowed to critically load your troops.

There are 14 items to choose from, ranging from small single-shot hand guns through machine guns to grenade launchers and experimental pulse lasers. Do not forget infra red sights if you want to know where you are when the lights go out. There is no time to fool about.

As you choose your equipment it will appear on your trooper at the left hand side of the screen. Remember to get ammunition for your weapons - a grenade launcher is not much good without grenades.

The scenario beings with a 2D representation of the player in a corridor. Baddies may attack from the left or right. Bullets, grenades and other goodies can be picked up and proximity mines can be dropped.

In the lower half of the screen a set of icons controls any actions other than left, right and fire. Picking up and dropping, activating IR goggles, going through doors and choosing your weapon are all icon controlled.

There is also a pictorial representation of your future trooper showing the damage to particular areas of her anatomy. When she is nearly dead a message will appear on the Heads Up Display.

Going through a door will take you into a whole new game - take a fresh grip on your bulletproof mask. The viewpoint is now a kind of isometric 3D view with parallax scrolling. About three levels of background scroll as you move the girlie from side to side.

Take careful aim at the terrorists who appear from all directions. Mind you do not accidentally blow a hole in one of the chair-bound hostages by mistake. Terrorists may be hiding virtually anywhere; some even pop up from trapdoors or abseil down ropes; Uzis blasting as they come. A certain number of terrorists must be made to see the light - preferably through a third eye - before you can free a hostage.

If your soldier fails you can always send the next one in. This bit of the plot does not stand much scrutiny. Obviously you'd be able to combat the baddies better with three well-equipped killing machines fighting simultaneously rather than one at a time.

Apart from the arming stage and the parallax effects, the graphics are poor. Theya re actually quite grotesque in parts as terrorists desperately try to hang on to their innards, cast asunder by high velocity fire.

Once you get bored of the digitised squeals of terrorists being brutally dispatched, the sound begins to pall. With five levels of differing graphics and layouts there is a fair bit of gameplay, but when it comes down to it, Soldier 2000 is little more than a reaction tester.

Mind you, so are quite a few of the most popular arcade games like Operation Wolf, Operation Thunderbolt Ad Nauseum...