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Ocean Software Ltd
1986
Arcade: Solo beat-em-up
£7.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

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114
Ben Stone, Paul Sumner, Mike Dunn
Chris Bourne

Highlander is based on one of last year's more unusual films. Immortals it seems aren't just the stuff of rumour or legend - they actually exist and roam through time in an endless battle with one another. Ultimately 'there can be only one'.

Highlander the game is based on just one element of the film - the sword fighting sequences. During these, the hero, McLeod, has to confront and kill three other immortals. The only possible method of executing an Eternal is to behead him, and this is McLeod's aim when he faces opponents. The immortal who finally triumphs becomes the holder of 'the knowledge', and consequently the saviour or destroyer of the world.

The game can be played in two ways: you can be McLeod who must fight against a series of increasingly competent competitors. Alternatively two players can fight each other in a head-tohead, one playing McLeod and the other taking on the character of one of his adversaries.

Each of the three levels is loaded separately and has a different setting and a different immortal for McLeod to try to decapitate. The first section features Ramirez, the least skilled of the immortals. Fizir is the second opponent - an ancient and skilled contender who is malicious and uncompromising in his fighting. If his head is removed then it's on to the final level which is set on rooftop in New York where McLeod faces the most deadly of all the immortals - the dreaded Kurgen. Kurgen is the most proficient swordsman of the everlasting fraternity, and killing him confers the 'knowledge' onto McLeod and the World is safe again. Failure however has disastrous consequences...

McLeod has fourteen different sword fighting moves at his disposal, accessed in traditional beat 'em up style. McLeod can move right or left across the screen and can attack or retreat, crouch down or leap into an attack position ready for the kill. Most of the fighting takes place with McLeod in a standing position. In this position McLeod has two defensive moves to protect his neck and body along with six attacking positions. In the kneeling position there are three attack modes glowing McLeod to defend his neck, head and feet.

Energy bars at the bottom of the screen indicate the status of the two combatants - fighting and taking hits costs energy while resting restores it slowly.

CRITICISM

'Highlander is yet another trite beat 'em up. This time your weapon is a sword so you can hack off the head of your opponent. The tie-in with the film (the head-hacking sword) is so vague that it may as well not exist. The game itself isn't really state-of-the-art. It is very easy to get bored with hack 'n slashing, simply because there isn't enough variation. Graphically I am disappointed; the characters are colourless, chunky and badly animated and the backgrounds are unvaried. The sound is less than good - there are no tunes and very few effects. Highlander is not a good game.' BEN

'Highlander was one of my favourite films of the summer, so when OCEAN grabbed the rights to the computer version I was sum that they could make a great computer game out of it. To make the game like the film OCEAN should have gone towards an adventure/arcade scenario. As it is, I find it totally boring and quite unplayable. The graphics are very simple expanded sprites and the backgrounds contain a bit of colour. They don't look very impressive. Pity it's not as good as the film.' PAUL

'What FAT graphics! Not something we see that often on the Spectrum. That was the first thing that struck me, and the second thing was the fact that I found it very difficult to win a battle. No doubt I'll get better if I practice, but frankly, I can't be bothered. Highlander is more than a tiny bit boring; despite the fact that there is a reasonable variety of moves, not all of them seem to work properly. I can't understand why McLeod turns into a blob, liquidises, and throws his molten form at Ramirez. Highlander isn't one of the best games around. It doesn't appeal to me.' MIKE

COMMENTS
Control keys: Player One- W up, D right, X down, A left, S fire; Player Two- U up, M down, K right, H left, J fire
Joystick: Kempston, Cursor, Interface 2
Use of colour: bleak; mainly black and white with a coloured border
Graphics: extended pixel graphics which look blocky and awkward
Sound: spot effects (but not many)
Skill levels: three
Screens: one main screen on each level
General Rating: A disappointing game that bears little relevance to the film.

75%
62%
53%
54%
53%
57%

Screenshot Text

Fizir gets the better of you as you battle it out in the underground car-park.

The final scene, will McLeod decapitate Kurgen and earn 'the knowledge'?