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Electronic Arts
1988
Simulation
£8.95
Multiple languages (see individual downloads)
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

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90
Sean Kelly
Chris Bourne

Le chicketydum. le chicketydee, le chicketydum, le chicketydee, le WOOH WOOOOOOOH!

You're Monsieur Le Feu (That's Mister The Fire to you), brave and fearless hero of the Resistance, who laughs in the face of the Nazi tanks and bombers, and makes rude gallic gestures at them. Your latest venture is, to 'borrow indefinitely' a train filled with French art treasures, and get it to Normandy before sunrise. Why before sunrise? I'm not sure. Perhaps it's a vampire train. But fortunately Monsieur Le Duc (That's Mister... er... The Duck to you) another gallic hero of the Resistance is on hand to provide any chuffin' assistance you might need.

The perilous journey begins at Metz station, where you must take pot shots at the German guards whilst Le Duc is loading up the coal, and checking the tyre pressures. Once the Nazis have been dealt with, you leap onto the train, and begin your journey, which is where the difficulties start. The engine must be constantly checked to ensure that the right pressure is maintained, and the temperature is high; but not too high. Water and coal levels must be monitored, and coal must be used efficiently - shovel too much in at once and the engine boiler gets damaged, too little and the speed begins to fall -not good when you have hundreds of kilometres to travel before daylight. The throttle and various whistles must also be managed, and trying to brake too suddenly will wear the brakes out.

Then, just as you're getting used to sorting this little lot out without crashing, smashing or spontaneously combusting, Le Duc, in his useful helpful manner, tells you that a German 'plane is attacking the front (or back) of the train. When Ducky does this, it's time to man the machine gun and blast the 'plane out of the sky, only to head back to the engine room to find everything going haywire.

There certainly is plenty to do in this game, which is a curious mixture between a shoot 'em up and a simulation. The shoot 'em up sections of the game are straightforward, and fairly tedious.

Simulation fans, though, 'stoke on. All your options are controlled from the joystick, and the engine driving screen is well laid out and easy to manipulate. Attempting to plan a route and keep all the engine parts functioning properly is great fun and ambushes, damaged tracks, and Resistance rendezvous all add to the sense of atmosphere and urgency, and even after three nights continuous play on the easiest level, I never came close to actually finishing the run.

Not a game for arcade fans, but if you're looking for an introduction into the world of simulations, and particularly train ones, you could do worse than this atmospheric romp through wartime France. Trainspotters rejoice!

Naff shoot 'em up sections, but the train driving simulation and atmosphere more than make up for them.

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