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Southern Software
1985
Adventure: Text
£9.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

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96
Derek Brewster
Chris Bourne

Afghan Attack is a reasonably topical adventure offering something a little different with special features including communicating aliens, control over their activities and real-time simulation.

The title does not refer to an altercation with man's best friend on Hampstead Heath but to that more distant turmoil, the stomping ground of ITN film crews who remind us every other day what might happen to us were we ever foolish enough to construct the channel tunnel. The funny thing is, if things get any worse in our once homely islands the Russians wouldn't even be interested - although all those Japanese video recorders might prove useful for videotaping Russian parades.

Anyhow, back to Afghanistan which is slipping down the news charts (it now follows Princess Di's hairdo) after briefly hitting number one when the Ruskies decided to stretch their legs a little and stroll around Asia.

The game is set deep within trouble torn Afghanistan where the invading Soviet army is in a desperate battle with the stubborn Afghan rebels. We are told on loading 'this adventure is purely for entertainment. The plot is based on total fiction and holds no political or educational bearing whatsoever.'

This is the stuff - pure gobbledegookski and antipropadarnosk - you'll leave this program as precisely ill-informed as when you entered it - super! Not quite though, the instructions which load separately before the game must be some of the longest on record, and in the style boring radio stations have made their own, one screen is devoted to dedications including one Bilbo and a Longfellow.

A request has been put to western governments by the Pakistani leaders seeking intervention due to the increasing numbers of Soviet troops massing on their NW border with Afghanistan.

The western leaders meet in Paris to discuss the crisis and after intense negotiations send a crack force of highly trained men to head-off Soviet movement on the eastern road out of Kabul.

You, the Commander will lead fifty British Paratroopers (including ten under your direct command) and five Officers. The adventure consists of two parts where part two begins north of the camp in part one, and on request Southern can supply a clue cheat, a list of objects and a complete list of the vocabulary.

Vocabulary is verb/noun but with some notable exceptions. Communications can become quite involved with constructions such as SERGEANT GRANT OPEN FIRE and LIEUTENANT TRAVIS ATTACK HELICOPTER or even CORPORAL MARSH FIRE BLOWPIPE. DISTRIBUTE and DEPLOY are further refinements to the active battlefield scenario where DEPLOY allows you to detail your men wherever feasible.

Instructions before programs are tolerable unless, as in this case, they are overlong. In fact you must load up part one of the game once you've loaded up the instructions. This means it is not easy to look up an aspect you may have forgotten and, of course, necessarily increases loading time.

Instructions, really, are for covers with perhaps some salient points precised into the program. Here we have verbose volumes within the program in a throw back to 1983, a la Timegate. The program claims a friendly vocabulary but is about as friendly as a Russian entrepreneur denied his full quota of blue jeans. LEAVE or GET OUT would seem too straightforward and you can only disembark the helicopter by resorting to JUMP OUT (still, could be worse, how about DISEMBARK!) and why is it seemingly impossible to get back into the helicopter. Unfriendly moments can be lightened with prompts to coax the player into the right area eg TRY TO REMOVE COVERS or something to that effect but this program provides no such assistance.

It would seem Quilled adventures share this vocabulary problem to a large extent where, compared to programs written without the aid, they do not offer as many verb/noun alternatives for one action. Often a Quilled game will allow only the one verb/ noun combination for any one action. Hence the helicopter problem here.

Afghan Attack offers a very different challenge to the norm and appears well-written with a good text. The atmosphere is built up consistently with M16 machine guns and ammunitions, bayonets and grenades, and this is cemented by the feeling of power from your control of a large body of men and their officers. If you grow tired of the traditional adventure and can overlook an obstinate vocabulary then this program is well worth the (rather considerable) effort required to unravel what is a very complicated plot. PS Isn't it funny how at school you do a soppy language like French when Russian is what you're after?

Now pass that 'Get by in Russian' book here and let me look up 'No missiles here - we're a nuclear free zone'.

CRITICISM

COMMENTS
Difficulty: quite difficult due to wording
Graphics: none
Presentation: good
Input facility: very fast
General Rating: Quite good, but possibly a bit expensive, especially for a Quilled game.

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