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APB

Domark Ltd
1989
Arcade: Vehicle Combat
£9.99
£3.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

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68
Jim Douglas
Chris Bourne

Woop! Woop! Woop! APB (All Points Bulletin) is like a cross between Grand Prix Simulator and Chase HQ. And does it hold together? Well, not quite, actually.

The premise of the game is that you, Officer Bob (?) are out on the mean streets, patrolling for reasonably minor offences like littering and vagrancy when - woop! woop! - an APB comes over the radio and you must wade in with the big boys and take on serious criminals - bank robbers, drug dealers and the like.

The screen is viewed in monochrome from above and the controls are revolve left, revolve right, accelerate and decelerate and PUT ON THE SIREN!

Putting on the siren is the equivalent of firing for most day to day use.

Before you go out on patrol, you are briefed as to what sort of criminals need attention on the current shift. Initially there is a training exercise involving collecting cones with "arrest me" written above them. This act is performed by driving towards them and holding down fire. Ahead of your car (at an escalating distance indicating your speed) a "pull over" message floats in the air. Once you've held this sign on the target for the desired amount of time, you will successfully apprehend the suspect.

Hardened criminals are obviously unlikely to respond to a single weedy instruction to stop. They may need a great deal of persuading or even running off the road. Each "collar" will add to your score. You've only got until the end of the shift to make your allocated number of arrests. Fail, and you'll be booted out of the force.

Where APB fell down for me was the gameplay. I'd accepted the rather ropey graphics, and was sure the action-packed gameplay would remedy all. Alas no. The problem is that a car chase game should involve a lot of driving very fast and a lot of smashing about without a great deal of accuracy. Alas, the GPIIesque overhead view prohibits this. I found that as soon as any reasonably exciting speed was reached, it was impossible to make any of those exciting, tyre squealing moves. This may well make for an accurate driving situation, but it means you spend the whole game PC Plodding around the town.

Any attempt to speed up the pace to, say, the speed of other drivers on the road resulted in irritating crashes which, after a concentrated attempt at a high speed chase left me far from being a laughing policeman.

The theory of the game holds together quite well; you can act just like a real policeman and hide in entirely unfair places and catch speeding criminals, or drive around woo-woo-ing innocent passers by. However, despite all of this, actually playing the game doesn't really appeal.

It isn't possible to slide around properly either. It would have been much better were you able to slide the tail around rather than spin about like a top. Again, this saps some of the excitement.

There are lots of features, like being penalised for mowing down pedestrians, and the APB which issues a description of the sort of car your next arrest should be driving and what exactly he has been up to. Unfortunately, those don't really make up for the other points.

APB has a number of good features. It may well be a fine purchase to fill a few hours, but it doesn't really have much "grab" quality.

Label: Domark
Author: In-house
Price: £8.95
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Jim Douglas

Run of the mill plan view car chase. Some nice touches.

60%
68%
Not Rated
Not Rated
63%