Virgin Games Ltd
Steve Lee
1985
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
£7.95
£2.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

14
Chris Bourne

Falcon Patrol 2 is the latest of the Virgin Converts, originally written for the CMB64 this straightforward arcade game now finds itself within the clutches of the world's real game players.

Your side is losing the desert war 3-1 and now the enemy have managed to build up a large chopper force that gives them air superiority, but numbers don't count when they have to go up against the Falcon pilot by none other than …………. (please insert your name ). In all there are 16 waves of enemy helicopters to destroy. The lethal quality of the enemy aircraft depends on their colour; Black Transports, Blue Gunships and Red Solos. The former spend most of their time flying about the desert dropping flak batteries and thingies to jam your radar, invariably they are protected by at least one gunship which, wile it can shoot, doesn't go out of its way to chase you. The red solo choppers are really nasty, they are very manoeuvrable and will cause you a great heartache. Your aircraft carries 100 AAM missiles, these can either be air-to-air or air-to-ground, it all rather depends on your attitude when you fire them. If you are very clever you will be able t shoot down enemy aircraft with the ground-to-air missiles, this method is to be preferred to facing the foe head on.

Scattered about the terrain there are landing pads. Should you run low on fuel or ammunition during a mission, a safe, undamaged pad is the only place your plane can be re-armed and re-fueled. The main display shows your little aircraft in the centre against a scrolling desert view seeded with dead trucks, aircraft buildings and fuel dumps. In fact the only objects that escape the decimation are the pyramids, at least the tourist trade should survive the war. At the top left of the screen the current score is shown above the high score together with the number of lives remaining. On the other side a bar chart keeps track of your 'gas' and shows the number of aircraft remaining in the current attack wave, while another instrument tells you how much ammunition you have left. In the upper screen area a simply radar display keeps track of on-coming enemy aircraft, however, don't rely on it too much because the enemy can render it useless by dropping jamming devices

CRITICISM

'When all the shooting is over and I have climbed out from under my wrecked plane for the umpteenth time, I can truly say that Falcon Patrol is awful. The graphics are, well, OK, pleasant but definitely not wow. I was particularly bored by the enemy, the greatest danger they ever posed was a collision with one of them; but did a great mid air explosion take place? Not a bit, the aircraft trundled off happily while my machine descended gracefully to the ground, as if to land, and then promptly disappeared in a puff of smoke and flame. In fact one thing that really annoyed me was the way my plane seemed to be able to survive anything except landing. If - in the unlikely event of my being shot at - my plane was hit it only registered the fact by cruising calmly earthward and then blowing up. As I could hit planes that were actually on the screen, so making the radar rather useless, there was great difficulty in using the air-to-air missiles because I would nearly always have to fly near the ensuing explosion caused by a hit, this in turn would cause my plane to go through its long and boring death sequence. Sorry Virgin, this might have kept Commodoreans happy but it's not working on the Spectrum'

'Falcon Patrol 2 was one of my favourite games on the CBM 64 but the Spectrum version is a big disappointment, I found it totally unplayable and monotonous, after a few goes even the sound started getting up my nose. It does have fairly pleasing scrolling graphics together with a nice opening tune but I really can't give it any more praise. All in all I found it both boring and un-compelling, it lacked challenge'

'Falcon Patrol is not dissimilar in style to Defender types. The layout and style are similar but the scenario is different. While I can't call the graphics 3D as the producers claim, this shoot 'em up is just that - a pure shoot the baddie, nothing more, nothing less. A lot has been done with the graphics to reproduce things like buildings, oil drums and palm trees. It looks quite nice too and scrolls quickly. The forward scanning radar is quite useful in following the action of the enemy. Where this game falls down is in the area of content. It's all very well having helicopters chasing after you and having to blow up oil drums (is that what you do with them?), but it does seem to lose something after a short while and you get fed up with the simple action. In fact I got quite cheesed off after half an hour and was pleased to see the back of it. I think this sums the game up.'

COMMENTS
Control keys: Q/A up/down, O/P left/right, M to fire
Joystick: Kempston
Keyboard play: traditional layout
Use of colour: good
Graphics: nice but oh so boring
Sound: generally poor
Skill levels: progressive difficulty
Lives: 5
Screens: scrolling display
General Rating: Fair but very dated.

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