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V

Ocean Software Ltd
1986
Arcade: Action
£7.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

22
Rachael Smith
Chris Bourne

'Lo there, lizard lovers, and at long last a big V to you all. Yes, the game of the schlock sci-fi show - the series that made Dr Who look sophisticated - has arrived. You play Michael Donovan, last hope of the earth. Your mission is to enter the vast visitors' space ship, plant explosives in key places and bail out before they explode (even Donovan isn't so dumb as to hang around when the whole place is about to blow). It sounds like an impossible mission... it also looks like an Impossible Mission. But you wouldn't let that stand in the way of saving the earth, would you?

The ship itself is vast which is going to provide one of your main problems. It's a maze of long corridors, blocked by security doors and bulkheads, and linked vertically by transporter lifts. To add to the fun there are also five levels and the doors linking these are rather less frequent, so you'll spend an unbelievable amount of time racing around just trying to locate the Water Inlet, the Air Purification Plant, the Central Computer, Nuclear Reactor and Docking Hangar - your targets.

The other major hassle en route to success is the fact that the lizards don't speak English, or anything like it. Even their number system is base six. All of which means that the Communiputer display at the bottom of the screen is of very little use until you've had time to do some decoding. Then you can work out which button is for security access codes and how it works; which one provides location information, that you'll need for mapping the ship, and which one is for priming a bomb.

The android patrols pale into insignificance after that. There are four types - Security robots are more deadly than Maintenance ones - though it would be wise to avoid them all because any sort of contact damages Donovan's heart, which then takes time to recover. Our hero runs athletically and performs the most spectacular forward rolls - hence the feeling of deja vu concerning Impossible Mission. Time your roll right and you should be able to leap over the Maintenance robots. There's also a laser to deal with Security droids, though its charge is severely limited.

With its constant electronic beeping and long, dully mechanical corridors, V successfuUy instils an atmosphere of panic. A feeling that's helped by the sparse nature of the instructions - nothing here to help you too much, and if I were you I'd consult the preview that we carried back in Issue 3 for further playing hints. It's sure to keep Hack Free Zone busy for a while because mere blasting won't get you anywhere without brainpower.

My one real worry is that the game is a little too big for its own good, and though there's a Pause facility there's no Save game option. I found I was chasing all over the place and apparently achieving very little, story of my life really. Then again, I suspect further play will reveal greater subtleties in what is very much a voyage of discovery in an alien environment.

8/10
8/10
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8/10