Faster Than Light
1987
Arcade: Action
£7.95
£1.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

114
Ben Stone, Paul Sumner, Mike Dunn
Chris Bourne

Shockway Rider is the second release from FASTER THAN LIGHT, the offspring of GARGOYLE GAMES.

Its plot is centred in a futuristic city where walking is a thing of the past. Instead of using pavements, the inhabitants move around on vast, scrolling walkways. Crime, however, is not an unhappy memory. Muggers find in the moving pathways a cornucopia, rich with pickings. Things are bad. Inevitably an individual who's seen too many Death Wish films decides to take the law into his own hands, and Shockway Rider is about this vigilante out to clean up the mean streets. Not unlike Bronson's Death Wish character he isn't particular in his own morals, and sees little harm in taking out innocent by-standers at the same time.

The pedestrian pathway is the place where it's at, and on-screen it's divided up into three sections running parallel to each other. Each section moves at a different speed, and the walkways loop round in a circle. The idea is to get right round the circle killing as many characters as possible (after all, one of them must be a mugger, surely?). Movement happens by standing still, while the screen scrolls from left to right.

Completing a circuit, the player automatically progresses to the next level, of which there are eight, and each provides more disposable persons and even some nasty obstacles to avoid.

Future City's thugs are slick, and down on Moving Mean Street they're identifiable by their black gloves and natty shades. But don't be fooled by apparently innocent commuters and passers-by; that frail-looking granny may suddenly turn into a mugger. The best bet is to kill everyone!

When a mugger spots you, he jumps onto the same pathway and literally knocks your block off. Vigilanticide is as easily accomplished by jumping on top of you when off-guard.

Like the muggers, the vigilante can also jump from walkway to walkway in pursuit of prey. The three walkways are seen in perspective, so effectively the characters change size as they go further 'into' or ' out of' the screen. Fists are the main weapon, but the stationary pathways alongside are littered with usable items which come in handy as ammo. Jumping off a moving pathway onto the sidewalk and running over the item results in its being displayed at the screen base. The weaponry collected may be hurled forwards and backwards and in some cases up and down as well.

Vigilantism just ain't nice, and so bonus points are awarded for biffing innocent by-standers. For every ten inoffensive pedestrians killed, an extra life is awarded and added to the initial five.

CRITICISM

'This is a bit of step backwards for FTL. I was expecting a game with the same sort of graphical quality as Lightforce - but alas there are no multi-coloured space ships in Shockway Rider. There are some pretty characters though. Not to worry, they seem to have worked on the gameplay - or perhaps it only appeals to me because you can hurl bricks at innocent by-standers (and get points for it!). Unfortunately there are only eight levels so this won't keep anyone playing for longer than a few days.' BEN

'I wondered how FTL could follow up a smash hit like Lightforce - not very well it seems. The game is, like Lightforce, very simple in construction. But Shockway Rider loses out on playability. The graphics are well drawn and backgrounds have a good feeling of perspective with the screen containing a decent amount of colour, even though the play area is monochromatic. The meanies contain lots of frames of animation, and there are good explosions when someone gets chopped. I love the way that the baddies wave their hands in the air when they chop your head off. Shockway Rider isn't really as good as Lightforce, but it certainly needs to be looked at as the game is original and quite addictive.' PAUL

'Despite the essentially simple idea behind it, Shockway Rider has turned out to be a reasonable game. Like Lightforce, it has excellent graphics, with colour used well, and superb scrolling: some of the character animation is brilliant. It's highly playable, but I felt that it lacked depth. The loading screen is particularly neat, and the packaging is very professional. Though by no means a poor game. Shockway Rider is something of a disappointment after Lightforce; but then most games would be! Look before buying.' MIKE

COMMENTS
Control keys
Joystick: Kempston, Cursor, Interface 2
Use of colour: good with a minimal amount of colour clash
Graphics: simple and nicely animated
Sound: the odd splatty sound effect
Skill levels: one
Screens: 8 scrolling play areas

73%
75%
65%
61%
64%
67%

Screenshot Text

Oops, Cameron's lost his head again... poor lamb!

In a bid for sweet revenge, Cameron sneaks up on the nearest granny.