Amstrad Action


Gunboat
By Accolade
Amstrad CPC464

 
Published in Amstrad Action #68

Gunboat

The silence is oppressive. The river flows sluggishly through the jungle, a dark, menacing serpent. Green algae coats the surface, catching the light and sending strange, ethereal reflections onto the hull of your PBR. The boat is a wide, hulking beast, gliding low and silent in the water. Every muscle tensed, you watch the river bank for signs of movement. Occasionally, when the sun sends a shock of sunlight through the canopy of leaves, you think you see someone moving through the dense vegetation. You wonder if it's your imagination... and then the shooting starts.

Gunboat is a simulation of river combat, based on the naval gunboat, PBR (Patrol Boat, River). Those of you who have seen the movie Apocalypse Now will have some idea of what a PBR does, but if you haven't, a PBR is a boat designed for river combat, a sort of marine tank, only without heavy armour. PBRs are fast, and pack some very dangerous artillery - their main strength is speed and stealth.

The game has three different scenarios, with varying degrees of historical accuracy. The first scenario is a foray into the dangerous territory of Vietnam. The second is a very topical jaunt down to Colombia to deal with the local drug lords. The third, only for the most experienced PBR captains, is a trip to the politically sensitive Panama Canal Zone...

Gunboat River Combat Simulation

The game looks like a typical computer simulation, complete with filled polygon graphics and true 3D perspective. The waterways are quite claustrophobic, and some tight turns are required. At any stage you can switch to a map of the river you're on, giving you some idea of which route to take. But be warned - the river systems are often tortuous mazes.

You have the option to control four separate characters, namely the pilot, the bow gunner, the midship gunner and the stem gunner. The pilot's job is fairly self-explanatory, he drives the boat and tries to keep it out of danger. The bow gunner has a choice of two fairly devastating guns, while the midship gunner fires a grenade launcher or a machine gun. The stem gunner guards the tail with another hefty machine gun.

The game plays very smoothly, almost like an arcade game, with a control method which is simple and smooth in operation. And it is very easy to switch between the crew members, who are all kept busy - most of the danger comes from assorted gun emplacements on the bank.

Gunboat River Combat Simulation

Graphics are very nice indeed. The use of just a single colour makes things a little bland, but it all moves nicely and the game is very atmospheric. Sound is a bit weak, though, with just the odd bleep and bloop.

Sim fans will love Gunboat, and the fact that it is so easy to get into should give it wide appeal. The three entirely separate scenarios (admittedly, they all play in much the same way) should give Gunboat lasting appeal. On the whole, a very good, and very neat title.

Second Opinion

Gunboat has a real atmosphere to it. More serious than usual shoot-'em-up fare, yet not over-complicated. A good simulation that'll keep you on the edge of your seat.

First Day Target Score

Navigate 'Nam successfully.

Verdict

Graphics 80%
Smooth and fast with a great deal of atmosphere.

Sonics 64%
Not much to speak of, but a nice boat noise throughout.

Grab Factor 78%
Despite the daunting manual, simpler than it first seems...

Staying Power 84%
...but enough depth to keep you coming back for more.

Overall 81%
Refreshing and original, it makes a change from arcade conversion.

Frank O' Connor

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