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A.J. Wright
Adventure: Text
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Derek Brewster
Chris Bourne

Wrightchoice's Operation Stallion was reviewed in the June bumper section; this is the second part of the Operation trilogy. The series has a £500 cash prize at its end to help you recover from all those operations.

Now there's almost a bit of topicality here, give or take a few months - we have an election where the Tories and Labour are neck and neck, eyeball to eyeball, celebrity to newsreader, and you're so uncertain of your future under a new government you think you'll get up to some good old espionage to rig things in your favour.

I suppose an Iranian angle would have been even more topical, but Operation Berlin is set in the divided city with its wall (25 this year).

Berlin is close to those red Russkies, so you can expect some less-than-pleasant introductions to the KGB - and you might think it stands for Kill Great Britain once you see what they have in store for you.

As with Operation Stallion, you play John Blake, otherwise known as The Fixer, and your bosses, the PM and Charles Jenson (CJ), are the only ones to know that your job in Government Records is just a cover for your secret work.

Recently a leading nuclear scientist, Professor Wolff, made a breakthrough in his research into a more efficient nuclear-powered engine. His Isotope XIV project unearthed a type of uranium which could provide more power to the drive units in NATO K9 class submarines.

Two days ago Wolff flew to West Berlin for top-level talks with NATO staff - but never turned up. Double agents discovered he was kidnapped by the KGB at Tegal airport and smuggled to East Berlin.

Unfortunately for Wolff, but luckily for the Western powers, the professor was injured in a car crash in East Berlin in the KGB's haste to deliver him to their bosses. But if Wolff recovers from his injuries he might be persuaded to decode his ciphered plans, and armed with his research the Soviets could deliver a crushing blow to the West. The plans must be recovered.

Operation Berlin has two parts, one on each side of the cassette. As with Operation Stallion, the first part has you on the trail of your boss, the difference here being that you start the adventure at Heathrow. The first frame has a curious, almost full-screen drawing of a BUSY departure lounge - but the bar depicted in the picture is deserted! Perhaps the new licensing laws haven't come through yet...

As in Operation Stallion, the pictures are slowly drawn. Pressing a key scrolls most of them off. First item of the yarn is a newspaper, and you'd have to be illiterate to ignore its usefulness. The public address system lightens the mystery of why John Blake is at Heathrow Airport - he was, apparently, just about to board flight B347 to New York. Well, clearly our chap ain't going to make that flight, but instead you struggle through minor obstacles and take'a taxi to the familiar building seen in Operation Stallion.

This building houses CJ's office and the 11 items to be taken on your mission proper in Part Two on the flip side of the cassette. But before I get ahead of myself, back to the check-in desk and a novel little routine: you have a natter with the check-in girl, with you only pressing a key to reveal each part of the conversation, which moves down a blank screen. It's a small touch but it's different. Another good effect is the fade-out of text, the words dissolving from the screen as you press a key.

Getting to Part Two isn't difficult - solving the problems in Part One becomes obvious once you've visited all the locations inside the airport. But there's one area in the bank which might prove difficult. The problem here is vocabulary, but the commands VERBS and NOUNS point the way with their lists of useful words (incidentally, these lists are different from those in Part Two).

This second part is similar to that of Operation Stallion - though Wrightchoice have laudably done away with incomprehensible lines using up moves, each of which takes one minute from the 24-hour limit on the mission.

Operation Berlin is a fine game with a neat outlook, and it's available from Wrightchoice at PO Box 100, Troon, Ayrshire KA10 6BD.

DIFFICULTY: not difficult
GRAPHICS: reasonable
PRESENTATION: rather good
RESPONSE: fast text, slow graphics


General Rating: Interesting.