Ocean Software Ltd
1985
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
£7.95
£2.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

35
Clare Edgeley
Chris Bourne

CHARGING like a maniac through the paddy fields and forests of Vietnam is Rambo - a born killer if ever there was one.

His mission: to photograph a POW camp so that the US army can move in to free the prisoners. His brief: Do not engage the enemy. Do not attempt to rescue. Being a bear of little brain Rambo will do exactly the opposite as his chivalrous and killer instincts take over. One man against the might of the Vietnamese army, he wades in to free the POWs single-handed.

Rambo is - surprise, surprise - based on the film and follows the plot of the movie as far as possible. As Rambo spends most of the time blasting everything in his path, that has been quite easy to recreate on computer. Thankfully the designers have left out the blood and guts and the game is quite free from gore.

You start off in the jungle, armed with only a knife and grenade. The knife is the best weapon at first, it is deadly when thrown by an expert and, more importantly, it is silent. You must be as quiet as possible to avoid alerting the Vietnamese patrols.

Before making your run up to the prison camp, which lies north of your start point, scout around to find some more weapons. Rambo can carry an arsenal with him to cater for every eventuality, including a rocket launcher which should only be used when in a helicopter, a machine gun - excellent for mowing down the enemy, and two arrows - one equipped with an explosive warhead.

Once the enemy patrols are onto you there is not much point trying to remain silent and I found the machine gun just the thing for mowing down two or three of the enemy in one spurt. Of course, once you have alerted them, more patrols are drafted into the area.

In the start area are many trees - natural ambush placements - a temple and some sort of monolith. The significance of these escapes me but they offer a place of refuge should the going get too hot.

Once you have found the arrows make a run for the camp. You'll find running in a zigzag the best for avoiding enemy bullets. The Vietnamese can disappear into an area outside the border of the screen, so don't stand too close to that no man's land. Someone might appear next to you and take a pot shot. If that happens you'll lose one of your four lives.

Once at the camp, follow the barbed wire fencing round until you find a bridge. Blow it up by selecting the exploding arrow from the weapons display.

Once inside, avoid the guards, race around the bamboo huts and search for Banks, a former comrade who is tied to a bamboo cross. With your knife chop him free - that happens automatically when you get close enough. Now make your escape to the north where a helicopter waits to transport you and the vital role of film to Thailand and safety.

If you manage to survive the pursuing forces, you must get the chopper to send for reinforcements and, leaving Banks in relative safety, you do the honourable thing and return to rescue the remaining POWs.

Back to the camp and armed with your knife, chop them free while dodging the hoards of irate guards. Lead them back to the helicopter and you're almost safely home. Warning! One last hazard remains. The Vietnamese send one of their helicopter gunships in hot pursuit. This is where your rocket launcher comes into play. Arm it and blast the enemy chopper out of the skies.

A few hints might help you complete your mission. Don't use loud weapons unnecessarily - they will only alert the guards to your whereabouts. When in camp don't stand still. Move as swiftly and silently as possible.

Only two-thirds of the screen is taken up with the playing area which is narrow but very long. The third section holds the score table detailing weapons collected and lives remaining. Your score leaps up when you find the various weapons and 100 or 200 points are awarded for each enemy soldier killed.

After all the publicity Rambo has received my first impression was one of disappointment. The graphics are sparse and the characters small. However, movement is smooth and though there is some colour clash, that doesn't detract from the game.

A rendition of Stars and Stripes is played each time you die - a reminder of the film's unpleasant jingoism.

Clare Edgeley

Publisher: Ocean
Price: £7.95
Memory: 48K
Joystick: Sinclair, Kempston, cursor

***

3/5

Screenshot Text

Searching for Banks inside the POW camp.