Monday, 30 November 2009

Retro lookback # 9 - Cannon Fodder - Amiga

War, according to Sensible Software, has never been so much fun. And I'm inclined to agree. A refreshing change to the platform games that came out at that time, Cannon Fodder did spark some controversy when it was released. Sporting a great big poppy, the Royal British Legion weren't too pleased about it. So, a disclaimer was put at the start of the game and all was right with the universe again. So once more unto the breach, dear friends.

Have you got a license for those guns?

Starting off with 4 soldiers (Jools, Jops, Stoo and another one who's name escapes me), you trundle through the jungle, shooting the enemy and wading through waist deep rivers. After a few missions, you get to use new toys like grenades and bazookas, to blow up huts and enemy underground bunkers. Even in a few missions, you can even kill a few villagers if you have a nasty side. After a few more, you can drive snowmobiles and take control of gun turrets to help you take out the bad guys. Some of the enemy even come equiped with their own bazookas and have no hesitation in firing upon you, even if you're hiding behind one of their huts, in some ways helping you in one of your objectives.
So, how does it play then? Absolutely marvellously. Some missions are sodding hard though and take nearly all your troops to accomplish. Every time you go back to Boot Hill, you'll see new crosses for their graves, making you feel a little bit guilty when they get killed. One feature, is once they've completed a successful set of missions, your men get promoted the longer they're alive. Using a mouse, you point and click where you want your men to go and where you want them to fire. Clicking on two of your men can assign them to their own unit, bringing tactics into play. Clicking on an enemy hut with both mouse buttons unleashes either a Rocket or Grenade, depending on what you have selected.


The sounds are quite sparse, but then it is meant to be in either the jungle or the antarctic, where the population is sparse, aprt from the eskimos. You do get machine gun fire, the sound of grenades being lobbed, rockets being fired and men screaming in pain when shot. Also, they continue to scream if they have been dealt a fatal shot but are not dead, meaning you can shoot them again and again and again, making them do rabbit hops. The music is great, with the main track, War Has Never Been So Much Fun, being sung by some of the team. The CD32 version has a video intro accompanying the title song, with all the Sensible team dressed up in full army uniform. You can see the game has been made with care and attention to detail and it plays excellently.hat doesn't detract
The graphics are awesome, with bucket loads of detail everywhere. The water moves, fires roar in the villagers camps adn an occasional bird flies overhead. It is sometimes hard to see your men on the jungle missions as your men are in green as well. But that doesn't detract from the enjoyment of the game.
The only niggles are that some of the missions when you start are too hard. Apart from that, theres plenty here to recommend it. Even the second one can't surpass it, even though it is good, but you can't beat the original.

4/5 A JSW Nearly Flawless Victory.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Retro Hall of Shame #2: Highlander - Speccy

Immortals. People who can't be killed. Unless you lop their heads off. The subject of an awesome cult hit movie (and some very duff sequels), it would make for a cracking swords and scorcery compute game. Up step Ocean with their offering. Errrm......
Now, the movie Highlander was enjoyable. It followed Connor MacCleod on his way to be 'The One', fighting other Immortals to the final confrontation agains The Kurgen (played awesomely by Clancy Brown). It had spectacular scenery, awesome music (by Michael Kamen and Queen) and some cool lines, mostly said by Brown. Its a shame the same can't be said about the game. But where oh where do I begin (from the beginning, you arse! - radom person). Right, how does it look? Well, iffy. The sprites look squashed, they don't resemble the people at all and, although they have SOME detail, they just look, well, wrong. It looks like someone came along and chopped their legs off below the knees. Not even the face on the title screen looks like Christopher Lambert. The backgrounds are sparse with just a small smattering of colour but in the middle....nothing. Just a black square for a floor. So while the graphics are.....only just acceptable (in a bit of a crap way), how does it play? Terrible. Just terrible. Its far too hard for a start. Press fire and move joystick to swing yer sword. Sounds easy, right? Wrong. You just end up swinging your sword like a drunken loon with a blindfold on. Its made more difficult by the fact that the person you're fighting (be it either Ramirez, Fazool or the Kugen) all fight the same and are just as hard as each other (I'm just guessing at that as I can't even beat Ramirez).
You have to hit your opposite a number of times before they fall to the floor, allowing you to lop heir head off, thus taking you to the next level. But as its too hard, you'll never get to the next level. You'll just find yourself fighting the controls instead of the computer. Its a shame really, as it had shedloads of potential, but it was just really poorly implemented. And don't get me started on the sound. Just tap-tap-tap for when you do finally score a hit on your opponent.
Too hard with too fiddly controls but it looks ok (in a crap way). I just wish more time was spent on it as it could have been something special. Its special alright, but for the wrong reasons.

1.5/5 - JSW's Big Bag of Wrong Award