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Strategy: Management
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Jerry Muir
Chris Bourne

'Ello, 'ello, 'ello. 'Ere's a chance for all you trainee Knackers of the Yard to deploy your forces round what appears to be an anonymous London suburb and its four stations in an icon-driven management game.

And it's not easy to keep the criminal classes under control.

The key elements in getting the bobbies on the right beats are the crime rates and the diary. The statistical evidence on types of crime in certain environments should help you cover them successfully (even though you are horrendously undermanned ... continued Police Review) though with three shifts a day and four areas to every station that's an awful lot of information to assimilate.

The diary contains those unique events that go to prove the policemans life is not an 'appy one. There's the meeting at the industrial estate or the Saturday Football Match. Will you send extra forces to the ground only to find that the visiting Millwall fans were meek as little lambs while Mr Knuckles and Nosher made off with your next week's payroll?

None of this ignores that thorny topic, police relations. Pile all your plain clothes thugs... sorry, best men, into a deprived area and you'll find you've got an image problem.

At the end of every week you get to control the traffic around town. Quite what a top cop is doing on point duty is never satisfactorily explained but if this is the way the commanders carry on no wonder law and order's in the state it is. I suspect this frantic sixty seconds of changing signals is included to get the adrenalin flowing, however sluggishly, after the tedium of a week behind your desk.

Tedium is the word to describe The Force. As a game it's more The Farce. Unless you're heavily into resource management simulations I bet you won't even get through the manuals for this one. Even though it's dressed up with maps and symbols, icons and scrolling messages, it can't fail to disguise the fact that at heart it's all a series of repetitive tasks.

It all becomes a lot of hard work with far too little variety. The manuals themselves aren't particularly helpful, the pictograms are often puzzling and the nesting of command screens isn't always helpful.

I have no reason to doubt that these are the day to day problems faced by real police commanders and I pity them. But I can't see many games players getting pleasure from such routine unless they're heavily into repetitive bureaucracy.

Label: Argus
Authors: Concept
Price: £9.95
Memory: 48K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Jerry Muir


Only die-hard fans of management games will be nicked by this one. Mugsy with tears.