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Tom Powell
Tom Powell
Adventure: Text
ZX Spectrum 128K

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Tim Kemp
Chris Bourne

New author ahoy! Tom Powell's his name, Hired to Kill is his game. The storyline of said game has it that an evil Baron is extorting large taxes from the poor peasants' pockets. No, it's not your job to biff his face, you've actually been hired to kill the King! He's on his way to Duchester (where the taxman is at work) to investigate the Baron. What you've got to do is sneak into the castle, hide, and wait 'til you get a chance to bump the King off. Now I don't mind a bit of regicide, so this early challenge was right up my cul-de-sac!

A little bit of RPG-style combat lurks beneath the surface, though it only manifests itself in fights where you have to remember to keep an eye on your hit points/strength - you know the sort of thing. It's not all slaughter and death though. You can make a few bob on the side by buying and selling goods, and you can talk to the natives, though I found very few of them willing to go further than the "hello" stage. Early on I found myself in all sorts of trouble, caught as I was without the necessary objects to do anything useful. Sadly, as there's not all that much in the way of friendly aid or helpful messages during the game, things tend to be a bit on the trial and error side.

There are four sub-plots that go to make up the whole quest, and they'll take a good bit of time to play through. Where the game scores highest is in the amount of problems you have to face. Loads of characters pop up, and there are lots of objects to manipulate too. On the minus side there's rather too much wandering to be done, along with having to deal with an out-of-control 'real-time' system that rather breaks up any 'flow' the game might otherwise 'have'. The parser is a bit archaic too, though that is part of the challenge of the game - trying to find the right words to manipulate the objects. Overall, not a bad effort but I'm sure there's better to come from Tom Powell.