Amstrad Action1st October 1988
Published in Amstrad Action #37
You're Wild Bill, pilot of the Dragonfly helicopter and you have a mission: to ensure the safe arrival of the A.W.E. Striker at its destination. The Striker, though, has two problems: it bumps into things and falls down holes, and neither is very good for it. There are also lots of nasty Cobra forces out there just waiting to blast anything into little pieces.
Across the bottom of the screen, where your score is shown, is a status panel informing you of the condition of the Dragonfly and the Striker. In the upper part is the horizontally scrolling playing, which is centered around your helicopter.
There are several levels to the game, each more difficult than the last, but still very similar in style of play. Strewn about the landscape are holes that must be bridged and barriers to be destroyed so that the Striker can exit at the end of the level. Fortunately there are sections of bridges covering some of the holes, but even so there arc more holes than bridges. You therefore have to carry bridge sections from place to place and make sure the Striker gets through. Any barriers that you come across must be shot to pieces or bang goes the Striker. That's about it: you hurtle around blasting enemies and protecting the Striker.Considering the speed at which the landscape scrolls, it's still remarkably fast. It's a pity as much effort wasn't put into the graphics as was put into the scrolling - they're lacking in both detail and colour. Sound is just a handful of effects and there are no tunes.
Action Force is one of those games that's frustrating, but for the wrong reasons. Level two is incredibly tight on timing to destroy the first obstacle before the Striker gets to it and that tends to annoy rather than make you play again. At the start of the game and between levels a message squelches onto the screen at a yawnfully slow rate. They're interesting the first time, but in the middle of a game the last thing that you want is a tedious delay before you go to next bit. £9 is lot to ask for this sort of thing.
The combination of inter-game messages and one-life games is not a good one. Inevitably with a new game, you take time to get to know your way about, and to be held back like this - especially in a game that moves so fast - is very frustrating.
Still, you soon improve, after which things pick up. A bit.
First Day Target Score
Complete level two.
Green Screen View
P. Excellent scrolling that's both fast and smooth.
N. Ineffective use of colour
N. Feeble sound effects.
Grab Factor 45%
N. Infuriatingly difficult on level two
N. Inter-level messages are tedious and superfluous.
Staying Power 51%
P. It should take a long time to complete all of the levels.
N. Only one life? Unplayable.
Not a bad idea - just badly executed.