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Ocean Software Ltd
1991
Arcade: Action
£10.99
English
ZX Spectrum 128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

70,71
Matt Bielby
Chris Bourne

You may not have heard of the film (in fact, you probably haven't - it bombed badly in the States and has yet to be released over here) but Navy SEALS is actually quite a spiffing little game.

And not that little either - it comes in two massive missions, each one more or less a complete game in itself. One is a giant, single level walk-around-and-shoot-people affair (not unlike Renegade with guns, though there's a certain amount of mapping to be done too) while the other, much more sophisticated, mission comes in lots of little sections, features generous wedges of spot colour, and some of the best animated characters seen in an action game in many a month. In fact it's rather special.

Since you can play the two in any order you like, I'm pretty sure most people would opt for the second mission first off (though the other would be fine to kill a few spare hours with later on).

So anyway, the second mish. In it you play a Navy SEAL (a sort of super-commando type bloke) on a mission to rescue hostages from the centre of Beirut. Gameplay is of the running about, climbing ladders, shooting people school of thought, and since Beirut is the sort of place that's absolutely packed with terrorists taking pot-shots at each other an awful lot of running around shooting people is going to have to be done.

The whole thing is broken up into five eight-way scrolling sub-levels (starting at the harbour, and working through a radio tower, into the enemy barracks and finally to the rescue and escape) - all fairly short but colourful and varied nevertheless. On each level you have to a) survive to the end (obvious really) and b) find and blow up a number of stolen Stinger ground-to-air missiles which are lying around the place. The whole thing is sort of loosely based on the plot of the film, though unlike Robocop, Batman et al it doesn't take particular action sequences and animate them, it just sort of echoes the whole thing in one go.

All well and good (but fairly normal) so far - so what makes it so snazzy? Well, it's pure attention to detail really - it's obvious that a lot of thought and effort has gone into just about every aspect of it. You can tell how pretty it is from the screenshots (nice big sprites, and oodles of spot colour) - what you can't see is the movement, which is really exceptional. Our hero can walk or jump, crawl, climb ladders or swing arm-over-arm along the ceiling. He can even twissle himself up onto the floor above with a sort of gymnastic flourish. It's a great effect and very easy to control - but it doesn't end there. They've thought it through further, so a SEAL can't hang around from his arms forever - he gets tired after a while and just has to drop down to the floor.

He's not the only nifty character either -- the baddies ('towelheads' according to the film) are good too, only spotting you and firing after you've entered their line of sight and (best of all) just keeling over and dying once they're shot, rather than disappearing (as in most games). The computer remembers where they are too, so if you find yourself retracing your steps at any point you're soon wading knee-deep through a bunch of dead bodies. All clever stuff, and rarely (if ever) seen in a game before.

Oh dear - I've just realised. I've been going on about that half of the game so much there's hardly any room for the other load. Not that it matters too much I guess, 'cos this bit is far more ordinary - originally designed when SEALS was going to be a 48K game (as opposed to 128K only which all new Ocean stuff seems to be). Based fairly closely on a real street plan of Beirut, it's a run-around-shooting-things sort of game - monochrome, packed with baddies (there doesn't seem to be an innocent civilian on the streets anymore), fun to play, but nothing out of the ordinary at all. There are some big baddies (like jeeps and motorbikes), bullets the size of pancakes (which actually cast shadows as they fly!) and, erm, lots of violence. And that's about it - out of space. just time for a quick summing-up paragraph.

I enjoyed Navy SEALS a lot, though how well it'll do probably depends a bit on the success (or lack of it) of the film. Half of it is very, very good indeedm and the other half isn't too bad (though a lot more boring). Yep, I liked it loads. (Why not give it a try?)

Half unspectacular runaround, half snazzy multilevel shoot-'em-up. Rather excellent really.

82%
88%
80%
83%
86%

Screenshot Text

Part of the wandering-around-the-streets-of-Beirut-shooting-things half of the game. It goes on a bit, but it's done quite well - it's just that it pales next to the other, much more impressive section.

Eek! A bit of a tricky bit here. How do I manage to swing myself up onto that platform without the two blokes clocking me? Problems, problems...

Here you are and (cripes!) it looks like you can do yet another move - climb (albeit painfully slowly) up ladders!

One of many (many) dead baddies. They all just lie there once shot - a neat touch, meaning that if you retrace your steps you find yourself wading through corpses.

This is the man you're currently playing - you get a different one for each life (and very ugly they all are too).

Your current gun (a sort of rifle thing).