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A.J. Wright
1987
Adventure: Text
£6.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

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62,63
Derek Brewster
Chris Bourne

This Quilled, Patched and Illustrated program was sent to me some time ago. It's the first part of a trilogy of adventures which give the successful adventurer a chance to collect £500 from the software house should he or she complete all three releases. This game consists of two quite distinct parts land is so old that parts three and four should be ready about now. Part One sees you finding your way to the briefing room to meet your boss Q. On your way you collect some items by searching around your office and, if you can avoid the two (rather obvious) sudden deaths, arrive at the briefing room to collect the equipment for your mission. But this is jumping the gun. Let's see who you are and learn about your mission.

For the last six months Britain has been swamped with drugs. Large quantities of high quality heroin have made their way into the country, and it was all the Drugs Squad Officers could do to prevent the system collapsing. One lead emerged during intensive questioning of captured dealers - a Mr Big who went by the name of Stallion. A stroke of luck then led the team to a crashed lorry which was found to have the same type of heroin as their earlier hauls hidden within its tyres. A company named Grand Union Supplies were transporting a cargo of machinery parts to Istanbul with the lorry, and would seem to have returned from that city with the heroin aboard. Enquiries into the background of this company revealed it was run by one Chow King Kwok, whose record showed a history of drugs-related offences. The team's - head, Detective Superintendent Chambers, felt that they were on to something and that Kwok might be the Stallion.

Catching Kwok at his sinister game proved far from easy however, as the criminal always seemed to keep one step ahead of the team. Then an agent following Kwok discovered the existence of a mole supplying him with their every move, but the agent was killed before he could reveal the mole's identity. It was now that Kwok's case became a matter of great urgency and the Prime Minister was informed.

During times of peace you are John Blake a reliable administrator in the records department. Only two people know otherwise: Charles Jenson (C11 your boss, and the Prime Minister.

Your alter ego is The Fixer, a member of a small crack division, working in areas outside the jurisdiction of the law. The work you perform is too important to be left to human foibles and for this reason a small explosive device has been implanted in your brain to ensure your continued loyalty.

The adventure begins with a view of your office. The picture here isn't too had but it is slowly drawn and even more slowly shaded, and it's rather untidily scrolled about two thirds off the screen. The graphical quality becomes rather academic under these conditions. I make some fuss over the slow drawing for good reason: as the descriptions are long they tend to scroll off with your input and R for Redescribe goes via the picture again - quite a wait I can tell you. The view for the office picture, like some of the other room representations, is from the top side of one of the walls, a perspective which seems to work just fine.

The location descriptions do manage to create some atmosphere in their length, just cop your eyes on this one, 'You're standing in your office. It is rather an untidy affair. You can see a sturdy desk with two drawers, one of which is slightly open, a telephone sits on top of the desk amidst a sea of papers and manilla files. A filing cabinet stands in one corner. There are also two uncomfortable- looking chairs, and a laden bookshelf. A picture and several charts hang on the walls. On your right is a window whilst the door is south. You are also aware of a book.' Up until the phone rings (it rings six times!) summoning you to the briefing room to meet CJ, things are quite straightforward, with the GET ALL command, unusual in this type of adventure, proving most valuable.

Examining the bookshelf gives the same report as examining the book, a remark which seems odd unless a red herring is a tropical fish ('It's a hook on tropical fish, a whole chapter is devoted to red herrings'). Once the boss has summoned you the program seems to clam up, not allowing you to do anything, although you are now allowed to leave your office, something denied you previously on the pretext that it was not your tea break. Exiting south to your secretary's office and west through an oak door brings you to corridors of typing pools.

Part Two is begun by saving the objects CJ has offered you at the end of Part One. The numbers of the equipment on offer are found by consulting the catalogue and I think you'll find six objects are your limit. In Part Two you have traced Kwok to his new operational base at his brother's mansion in Scotland. A further complication is now brought in as this brother is a member of the Chinese Consulate and as such enjoys the privilege of diplomatic immunity. A raid by the police is therefore out of the question. This is clearly your job, and the PM's instructions are to obtain the evidence to implicate Kwok, get him to divulge the name of the double agent who has infiltrated your ranks, and finally, terminate Stallion. By the time you reach Scotland only 17 of your 24 hours remain, and each move (including Redescribe) costs you six minutes. If the bull should kill you early on, the saved game from Part One must he loaded again, so take care.

Operation .Stallion is a very worthy attempt to- bring the excitement of a thriller to the adventure scene. I particularly liked the long and fascinating storyline to draw the player into the plot. There are one or two spelling mistakes (many centred around 'ie' order in words) but overall, a fine game.

Difficulty: first part seems simple enough
Graphics: some are quite detailed though all are based on square shapes. eg doors, corridors and stairs
Presentation: average, to say the least
Input facility: verb/noun
Response: fast, but very slow graphics

CRITICISM

General Rating: Interesting.

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