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Electronic Arts
Tactical Combat
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

Other Links

Duncan MacDonald
Chris Bourne

Yonks and yonks ago (about a year at least), I saw a game called Artic Fox on a friend's Commodore Amiga. Solid filled graphics, squeaky 'tank trundling' sound effects and lot's of zaap-boom fighting action in the snowy wastelands. Great fun!... 'There'll never be a game as good as this on the humble Speccy', I recall myself thinking. And then what happens. Gor blimey, if Firebird doesn't release a game called The Sentinel - solid but slow. Then Driller blimey solid and not so slow. And then The Dark Side — solid and almost smooth. And what drops into my hand today? Only a Spectrum version of Artic Fox by cracko!!!!! I almost damaged my tape recorder as I jammed the cassette into its jaws in a state of hyper-expectant frenzy! I paced back and forth, palms a-sweat, until eventually Artic Fox had loaded and was waiting in my Spectrum.

Oh dear.

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear...

Where can I start? Well for one thing the graphics are vector. Nothing wrong with that — I don't mind vector graphics (Elite, Starglider). Besides, vector graphics can move realty fast! Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear...

These ones don't.

Scenario? Well, you're somewhere near the south pole, inside a futuristic tank. You're surrounded by squillions of enemy craft, planes, tanks, rocket launchers and things like that. Your weaponry consists of cannon, droppable mines and guided missile, and with these you've got to make your way through the enemy lines and destroy the command HQ.

The 'action' takes place in a quarter screen sized window in the centre of the screen, with radar scanner and various iconry scattered in the surrounds. The graphics are small, scribbly and hard to make out. The animation 'up-dates' very slowly and everything jerks across the screen in what seems like character-square lumps at a time. The response from keyboard and joystick inputs is sluggish to say the least, and pretty soon total confusion and bewilderment sets in. Or it did with me, anyway.

If this was a budget title, I would probably say "Gosh - this is quite an undertaking for a cheapie. but that still doesn't make the gameplay any better." At full price, all I can say is, erm, 'Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.' And seeing that I'm the kind of cad who likes to kick a man when he's down, I can only add that a game set at the south pole should be called 'Antarctic' Fox. Nuff said.

Fairly dire conversion of a 3D tank game that could have had a lot going for it.