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US Gold Ltd
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

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Chris Jenkins
Chris Bourne

Why would anyone want to create a mountain-climbing simulation? Because it's there, I suppose. With football, athletics, martial arts and watersports sims clogging the market up to the nostrils, mountain climbing is about the only subject which hasn't yet been tackled. Unfortunately, Final Assault fails to score for the same reason that there isn't much mountain-climbing on Match of the Day; it might be fun for the people who are doing the climbing, but it's flipping dull to watch.

Your adventure into the wonderful world of pitons takes place in the Alps. Before setting out for the real thing you can take a training route in which there are on-screen prompts to improve your climbing technique, your equipment is selected for you, and, best of all, you can't have a fatal fall.

For the real thing, your first task is to choose the number of climbs you want to take and select the routes from the mountain map. Next, you fill your rucksack with equipment. From the selection of icons you must choose climbing gear such as pitons, carabiners, ropes, ice pins, chocks, straps and jummars (JUMMARS?), the function of which are explained in the manual. You must also stock up with more familiar items such as food, warm clothing, can opener, first aid box and the like.

What you carry, and what you choose to discard, should depend on the type of route you will follow; lots of ice walls, lots of walking, lots of crevasses or whatever else; and on the weather (winter or summer).

Your equipment is packed and you set off followed by absolutely no sherpas. The idea is to test the ground ahead of you by poking it with your ice-axe; walk at a steady pace to cover ground without using too much energy; and leap over crevasses when you encounter them. This bit is merely dull. For stultifying tedium, watch what happens when you fall into a ravine. You have to climb out using an up/down/fire motion of the joystick to hack holes, raise your foot then lift yourself up a few feet. The monotony is only relieved by the business of strapping yourself to the cliff face, getting your pack open, and selecting food or warm clothing, in response to the prompts which tell you when you are in danger of slipping down the cliff face due to lack of energy, cold, hunger and so on.

If you get through the icewall, you'll find yourself on the rock face. Here you must move your hands and feet to safe holds, watching the flashing icons to the right to judge how safe it is to move on. Sometimes you'll have to move downwards to find a better handhold, or jump to one side to avoid a falling boulder. Mainly, though, it's boredom a-go-go as you crawl painfully up the rock face, until you finally reach the mountain top and are returned to base camp for a new mission.

Final Assault sounds more like an SAS-death-commandosuicide-megablast game and let's face it, it would have been a lot more fun if it was. It's a good climbing simulation with acceptable graphics, but it's as boring as hell.

Label: US Gold
Author: Choice Software
Price: £8.99
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins

Competently designed but unremittingly tedious climbing sim.