Cripes! One minute I'm playing on a huge Crackdown machine in my local arcade and the next I'm plonked in front of the Speccy doing exactly the same thing. Is this a vision or a waking dream? Nope, its the latest snappy coin-op conversion from US Gold. Phew! Quel relief, I thought I was a gonner there.
So what's the game about exactly? Well, it's all got rather a lot to do with an evil little fella called Dr K. Laughing like a lunatic and twiddling his waxed moustache, he's out to create an army of biogenetically-engineered humanoids which he's going to use to set up a lawn mower factory. Oops. Sorry. I mean take over the world.
Aha! But there are two factors the dastardly doc forgot - Andy Attacker and Ben Breaker, efficient FBI agents with a cunning plan. (Well, with a couple of names like that they couldn't have run a funeral parlour, could they?) Bazooka in hand, shades at the ready, these cool dudes (or just one if you haven't got any friends) run like the blazes straight up to the scientist's secret hideout. Blimey! Its a huge 16-level fortress inhabited solely by the sinful surgeon's android buddies and these sinister synthetic subordinates aren't afraid to die, no siree. Basically, you've got to plant three detonation devices on each split-screen level (X marks the spot) and leg it out of there before they explode. You're helped in this task by a map at the top of the screen which gives a rough idea of where you are (although you only appear as the weeniest pinprick so you might need a magnifying glass) and there's also a table to show how much ammo you've got left.
Talking of ammo, each of the lads has three potential weapons - a rocket launcher (big flashy number), a gun (naff pea shooter) and a superbomb (wipes anything in the vicinity off the face of the lab). But don't panic if you run out. Extra supplies are lying about the place in handy pick-up packs. Hooray!
If you don't come a cropper by walking into poisonous pools of acid slime, there are plenty of kamikaze androids about out to get you too. And by crikey there's no stopping this lot. Every time you walk past a monster generator it spits one of the vicious chappies out - and they don't always play by the rules. For a start, they've got collision detection on their side. Very crafty. If you graze them with a bullet it won't do them the slightest bit of damage, but if they touch so much as the hairs on your ears, that's it, finished, kaput, another life gone. Not exactly cricket, is it?
As a conversion then, Crackdown is a birrovalright. All the levels are there, they've included the maps and most of the coin-op's in-game features, but there's something missing - any really snazzy, exciting gameplay. It might look a bit similar, but it's no Gauntlet, and while you could reasonably level the same criticism at the arcade original, at least that's got fantastic graphics and a corker of a soundtrack to keep you interested when the action flags a bit. On the monochrome Speccy its a tad difficult to distinguish some of the graphics, the map is hopeless and the aforementioned collision detection is a bit of a pain. It's not bad as such, but it's difficult to get into a lather over it- haven't we seen enough games already that boil down to just a bit of shooting and collecting? A perfectly smoothly programmed bit of shooting and collecting admittedly, but nothing more than that. If you like your games vindaloo-hot (and who doesn't?) then you might be disappointed.
A natty conversion of a coin-op which was good, but not that good. Suck it and see.
Yep, it's all just like the let's-blow-ip-the-baddie-base bit from a Bond film.
Right. Time to get your skates on, matey. Only a couple of minutes 'til she blows!
Yes, you're right, it looks just like Gauntlet split into two screens. Because of this each play area is fairly tiny and you're often hard-pushed to tell what's round the next corner - the map at the top's far to squitty to be much help either.