There have been two The Hunt For Red October games. The first was based solely on the excellent Tom Clancey novel (essential reading), while this latest offering is based on the recent Sean Connery movie (essential viewing).
The story goes something like this: Ramius (Connery in the movie) is the commander of Russia's most powerful submarine, the Typhoon class Red October. But Ramius is disillusioned with the Russian way of life so plans to defect with the submarine, and has help from the west in the guise of CIA operative Jack Ryan.
The game is split into six sections. The first sees you guiding Ryan, who's dangling from a helicopter, onto the conning tower of the USS Dallas.
When Ryan has landed safely, the scene shifts to a horizontally scrolling undersea section where Ramius has to guide the Red October past Russian subs, depth charges and guided missiles and out to the open sea. You have depth charges, torpedoes and homing missiles to return fire, and a range of bonus items can be picked up on the way.
Once in the open ocean Ryan can transfer from the Dallas to the Red October via a mini-sub. This section isn't quite as finicky as the helicopter drop - you can hit the submarine slightly off target and still survive.
The next section quickly follows with you waggling the joystick like mad to open an airlock. Fail to do so and you'll soon be waterlogged. Level live is another 'blast your way through the Rusky submarines' section as the Red October heads for the good old US of A. But disaster strikes when the chef decides to be a mutineer and attempts to detonate the nuclear warheads the sub carries, so you must stop him in a Cabal-style shooting scene.
And there you have it. Sounds packed, doesn't it? Unfortunately, although there seems to be lots to do, the gameplay is pretty shallow. I mean, it's not crap or anything, just a bit easy.
However, the graphics are very good - the title screens look to be digitised and promise a great deal. The sprites aren't digitised. of course, but they're colourful, fast moving and well drawn. It's a real shame the gameplay doesn't measure up to the graphics because both the book and the movie are first class.
If you're looking for something simple and entertaining, this could be it but so mach more could have been achieved with this licence.
MARK ... 60%
'I haven't seen the film but I've seen Doctor No. starring Sean Connery - that's near enough (no it is't -Ed). Graphically this is an excellent game. Right from the beginning, with the digitised pictures from the film, you're given lots of colour and great animation. It's a pity there isn't the gameplay to go with it. The main part of the game is the sub speeding along in a shoot-'em-up situation. You fire lots of torpedoes and hope you'll blow away the enemies. This makes a reasonable shoot-'em-up but nothing earth shattering. In between these levels are sub-games (ho ho!); these are really well done but simple to complete.'
NICK ... 79%
Looks good, plays well but lacks depth (a bit odd for a submarine game, don't you think?).
In the depths of the ocean, the Red October blasts its way to Western freedom (and a Big Mac, please).