If ever law and order breaks down, do NOT join the police force. It's something I'd never do. Instead, I'd go off down the shops, choose a really expensive hi-fi, then nick it. Then I'd go into a pizza shop, ask for three really big pizzas, eat then and run out without paying. Then I'd get some really flash clothes, a new pair of baseball boots and a video recorder. And you know what? I wouldn't pay for any of it! Ha! And who'd stop me?
Well, an ESWAT tea might. You'd have to be 'perping' in a dump-hamlet called Cyber City and playing the new US Gold shoot-'em-up, but odds on they'd probably trash you. (Actually, the game's so relatively straightforward they just about trash everybody, but more of that later.)
HEAVY METAL MUTHA!
As the game kicks off you're just a normal bobby. Your ambition is to be accepted into the crap, er, crack ESWAT cop team (a sort of street-level paramilitary set-up) and then work your way up through the ranks. And, lordy-lor, are these boys into their power-dressing! If you manage to get through the first three levels (and thus into the team) then on goes a full metal jacket uniform thingie (with matching trousers) and they strap a mean-mutha lethal weapon onto the end of your arm (a 'handgun' no less, hem hem). Sounds a hit 'Robocopic' to you? Spook! Me too. And the weird thing is the similarities don't even stop there, because next you're sent back onto the streets to...
Shoot more people! (Hurrah!)
And thats ESWAT's biggest problem really - it's just blam-blam-blam at everyone you see. The first lawbreaking bods you meet are just kids on skateboards. Never mind. Shoot them dead. Then shoot anyone looking out of their windows to see what the noise was about. Then shoot anybody who comes out of their house to ask what you meant by blasting their entire family. (And so on.)
BUT SURELY THAT'S WHAT A SHOOT-'EM-UP'S MEANT TO BE LIKE?
Well, er, yes. But not when it's as repetitive and straightforward to master as this. Okay, so there's a few new 'twists' (you've only got a restricted amount of bullets and you can fire backwards and up and down) but in the variety stakes it's a bit of a no-hoper. End-of-level baddies throw bin liners and croissants at you (and molest girlie hostages who are thoroughly ungrateful when you save them). The hardware gets nicer as you move up (as I mentioned). You even get a warehouse or two with lots of boxes everywhere to jump up and down on (probably all the stuff people have nicked from Dixons!). But there's nothing here that really bites your botty and refuses to let go.
To be fair, it's a problem that shoot-'em-ups in general have (so ESWAT isn't really alone). If a game's just about shooting people then you've got to get the difficulty level spot on or the player's going to get very bored very quickly. (Failing the quality of something like Op Wolf, a good way of reducing the risk is to put a puzzle element in, like in Total Recall.)
ESWAT is certainly a competent arcade conversion (the mono graphics are blocky and clear) and it's by no means dire, but at the end of the day, well, you might have moved onto funkier things.
So-so shoot-'em-up. A bit too easy and repetitive for its own good.
Oh, didn't I mention it? Well, yes, it's a horizontal scroller. And take a look at the way all the figures are drawn. Spooky, eh? (Come in, Mr Pinhead, are you reading me?)
Gosh, I can't wait to get that shiny metal uniform on! (Better kill some baddies quick!)
The nightclub's called Romeo - but there's no love lost on the streets of Cyber City!