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CRL Group PLC
1985
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
£8.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

Other Links


128
Chris Bourne

I n Blade Runner you play the Part of a 21st century bounty hunter a sort of futuristic Clint Eastwood who is on the track of replidroids. Replidroids are highly sophisticated robots that have been developed for use in hostile or dangerous environments and are used by humans as off-world slave labour.

Despite looking human and, for the most part, behaving just like humans, replidroids have been banned from Earth. They are manufactured in half a dozen grades, and the highest grade replidroid is superior to any human in terms of strength and agility, and at least as smart.

When the game begins, you're after the least harmful grade of replidroid, grade one, but as the droids fall and the points clock up the set of replicants that you chase after gets nastier and nastier until the very unpleasant sixth level replidroids are your quarry.

The city to be patrolled is split into nine sectors; you are equipped with a gun and neat hover vehicle a skimmer. The skimmer's viewscreen is divided into three areas: a detailed sector map, which displays an aerial view of the part of the city you are currently travelling over; a smaller mapscreen which highlights the sector in relation to the whole city, and a message window. Replidroids and their creators are shown on both the large scale viewscreen and the sector map by flashing graphics. As you move across a sector boundary the next map windows onto the main screen and the yellow highlighting block on the long range scanner moves position accordingly.

The aim of the game is to move your skimmer through the maze of streets that forms the city until it is above a replidroid on the run, and then land by pressing the fire button. The droids constantly hack around the teeming freeways and as your skimmer descends the display changes to a side-on view of the street you have landed in.

Landing is achieved automatically: the computer takes over and runs through an animation scene lasting about a minute which shows the skimmer gracefully setting itself on terra firma. Once you've landed it's time to pursue your quarry on foot. A scanner along the bottom part of the screen shows the positions of both you and the droid, and looks three screens along the street.

Pedestrians and groundcars also use the roadway, and they're oblivious to your miss ion, perfectly happy to get in your way. Bumping into a pedestrian wastes time, while a collision with a vehicle is fatal. If the fugitive manages to race out of the scanner's eye then your skimmer returns to ground level to take you back to the map screen. If things get really frustrating, you can always shoot the innocent bystanders though, as this gets them out of the way rather efficiently!

The background scrolls from right to left, and a pseudo 3D effect allow you to move in and out of the gutter and onto the pavement. To retire the replidroid and earn the bounty points, you have to get directly behind it. One quick shot and the city is populated by one less malignant robot. The skimmer returns and the story continues.

CRITICISM

'At first sight Blade Runner seems to be a good little game, however, after a few goes it loses most of its appeal as there is very little gameplay. Once you've shot a few baddies and seen all the different streets there seems little point in going on any further. The graphics are a mixed bag: the characters generally all look the same apart from a variety of haircuts and hats - so even though the replidroid is going in the opposite direction to the rest of the pedestrians, it is often hard to spot. The streets contain neat details like posters and so on, but the scrolling is rather jerky. The only thing that really stands out about this game is the tune on the title screen.'

'Yet another 'Game-of-the-film'! Not a bad one, either, despite the fact that it's the game of the soundtrack of the film. Only one thing stops it being excellent, and that is the fact that doesn't present much of a challenge. The instructions should have given more detail on the gameplay, as they do little more than set the scene for the game. The time it takes to begin to understand the game is more or less the time it takes to master it. The graphics are good, excellent on the pursuit screen, where you must 'retire' your replidroid. If you are a hardened arcade freak, looking for an easy but entertaining game, look at Blade Runner.'

'I felt there was something missing from the game, and not enough to do while I was playing - it's like a mini version of Ghostbusters. The plot's simple: find a replidroid, jump out of the skimmer and kill the replidroid. This turned out to be a very tedious job, as I found the game very slow to respond to joystick movements and even slower on the keyboard. Bladerunner might have been improved a bit if there weren't such long pauses between landing and taking off in your skimmer. CRL could have made a good game out of a great movie, but m afraid they've made a total hash of it.'

COMMENTS
Control keys: definable
Joystick:
Keyboard play: unresponsive
Use of colour: okay
Graphics: quite neat at times
Sound: excellent tune, little else
Skill levels: one
Screens: 2
General Rating: A rather disappointing game, overall.

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Screenshot Text

The control panel of your Skimmer in BLADE RUNNER. The main panel displays a detailed map of the current city quadrant, while the smaller panel is a large scale map of the city.

At Street Level in BLADE RUNNER, with your skimmer about to take off as pedestrians wander past, unconcerned.