A top-class criminal, codenamed Atlas, has stolen the American nuclear defence plans and it's your unenviable task to make sure he doesn't do something silly with them - like blow up the world. The training manual is not as intimidating as it sounds since it involves only a few notes on the inside of the cassette inlay. It is a text adventure featuring three simple arcade games.
We are told much of the author whose hobbies include book collecting and serious computing. Load " " Code - curious, most machine-code programs these days use a Basic loader and most of this program is Basic. On loading you are given your Atlas Assignment Briefing and your first location finds you outside the Chief 's Office. The text is the inverse of the normal for the Spectrum with white on a dark background which is less tiring on the eyes and BRIGHT is used to emphasize inputs.
Moving south, you reach the equipment room and see a labelled bottle and an automatic pistol with only three bullets. The message in the bottle is truth and the pistol comes in handy when engaging the type of hoodlum who likes to remove and check the colour of your liver. The program, which accepts straightforward Verb/Noun entries, accepts both TAKE and the more expedient GET and only requires the first three letters of the noun and four of the verb.
At the back door of the M15 building you exchange pleasantries with the man leaning against a lampost and he proves most helpful. He informs you of a certain Ivan Lendelovich, the Russian who is to buy Atlas's merchandise. Moving on via an affluent and careless drunk you meet the belligerent shop-keeper. You draw the gun that has given you such a sense of security and shoot only to meet with the report hat you don't hit anything in particular. Apparently, you can only shoot the people you are supposed to shoot.
It is at this point that my suspicions were aroused and later confirmed: the game too often returns to the unswerving path of linear development. The only meaningful interaction that which allows you to progress. The result is a loss of realism and the game is reduced to nothing more than a string , of puzzles.
After much intelligent analysis you reach the first of the three arcade games, which happens to be the lesser of the three. It is a poor version of a bomber game where one bomb demolishes the whole building and the plane travels much too fast. Since the game is very difficult it is annoying to be sent all the way back to the beginning of the adventure on your inevitable failure. The second arcade game has you fired upon by an erratic and hiccupping helicopter - deceptively difficult - and the third, my favourite of the three. is played out on the lawns of Cherriere Lodge where the ferocious Alsatians are coaxed into the ponds in the manner of a strategy rather than an arcade game. Briefly, die-hard adventurers may not welcome these arcade games, more especially the first two.
Atlas Assignment is a rather modest text adventure with a conspicuous linear progression and limited vocabulary with the inevitable result - 'You Can't'. However the diminutive wordstock allows a quick response time and the sound is used to good effect.