There's something very... American about this game. Well spotted, Gwyn! It's an American game. From US Gold. Sherlock Hughes!
No, that's not what I mean. Infiltrator is more than a shoot 'em up and it's not just a game. It's more a sort of... concept, man. And if that isn't American, what is?
Well, first there are the instructions. A large, double sided sheet. But don't worry because this guide to flying a Gizmo (TM) DHX-1 Attack Chopper (affectionately known as 'The Snuffmaster'), also contains a number of laughs at the expense of weapons fetishists. Ronnie Ray-gun will hate it. It's un-American! (Make your mind up! Ed).
Satire again in the choice of hero, Johnny 'Jimbo Baby' McGibbits, an amalgam of all those helicopter and jet jockeys in trumpet-blowing, flag-waving, sabre-rattling goget- the-Russkies films.
Infiltrator is no Tomahawk. It's more silly than simulation, but it's also a lot of fun. Flying is a matter of keeping on course, and going by the amount of drift, there must be some fairly strong sidewinds. You've also got to be careful about fuel consumption, because you've only just got enough to get you to your target site.
Airspace is as full as Heathrow on a holiday weekend. Other helicopters appear regularly and demand identification when they see you. This is where the strategy comes in, because indiscriminate blasting wastes both ammunition and fuel, so it's as well to avoid it.
The solution is to keep your eyes open, and switch to the communications mode as soon as you see another chopper. You can then demand its ID before it requests yours. As you know the enemy's password, as well as your own, you can give the correct reply that it's requested.
Of course you may not know which side the pilot's on, in which case you have to make a guess, though this isn't too difficult when he replies, "Scum". Of course, if you get it wrong, or it turns out to be a rogue flier, then you're forced to fight.
As you'd expect, a Gizmo (TM) DHX-1 is well armed, with a cannon and four missiles. But don't neglect the flares and chaff that are used to decoy heat-seeking and radar guided projectiles. With these a battle becomes a question of fast reactions and strategy rather than simple shooting.
Finally though the ADF indicator will flash and spin wildly round, indicating that you've reached your destination. Touchdown and it's on to the second part of the mission - a land-based caper as you search for secret documents and indulge in a little sabotage.
You get a high view of the enemy base as you try to dodge the guards or bluff your way past them with false papers. If the worst comes to the worst you can always use tear gas or a grenade. Don't dawdle though as there are only about twenty minutes to search the base, looking through drawers and photographing any secrets. You can also place explosives and blow up the whole place if you're quick.
I'd like to report that this part of your job is as much fun as the first, but in the time given to review Infiltrator, I failed to land my 'Snuffmaster* even once. Sure I reached the target, but then, try as I might, I couldn't get back down to earth except in the most dramatic fashion when fuel ran out!
Perhaps I'm missing something in the instructions or could it be I just didn't have enough practice? I'm afraid it's up to those who aren't governed by deadlines to discover what perils lie ahead for Jimbo in his three missions.
As for poor, mortal Gwyn, I rather enjoyed this, despite a nagging fear that all that communications work becomes rather like a typing tutor. But it's a brave attempt to give the Spectrum the sort of game that's wowing them Stateside on disk-based systems, and it's certainly a novel entertainment.
The Gizmo (TM) is fill of useful gizmos, like these warning lights. You can do something about being too low or the batteries or oil overheating. Simply decelerate or turn off the turbo to avoid a rapid descent.
If you get to touch down you'll need the Whisper mode, toggled from the keyboard with its initial key. like so many of the effects. It lets you land in silence, avoiding the unwanted attention of guards, mad leaders and traffic wardens.The Head Up Display cross-hairs, which you use to target your gun or guided missile. But beware - if you keep it on all the time, it's all too easy to launch a primed projectile and shoot down a friendly chopper by accident.The ADF is a wonderful device. When you're first in the air you'll be given a code to enter into this navigational computer. Then all you need to do is keep the indicator pointing straight forward. Simple, isn't it?Ever-helpful, these two lights tell you whether you're being shot at with heat-seeking or radar guided missiles, letting you take evasive action. Providing, of course, you're quick enough to prime chaff or flares and fire them.