After years of waiting in the wings, the Monster Raving Loony Party have seized control of Government and have begun a vicious campaign. Their plan is to use a new DNA re-structuring chemical to mutate every opposition MP into a crazed eighteen-footed creature, thereby rendering them unfit for future Parliamentary debate (although some would argue at the validity of that last statement).
The two main parties have formed a coalition, with the sole intent of removing the Loonies from Government, thus rendering British politics the normal, haphazard joke which it usually is. The plan is to place three crack SAS marksmen around the Houses of Parliament, then fly in another three via helicopter to storm the building and 'incapacitate' the unwanted guests inside.
But wait! The MRLs have taken a number of Green Party members hostage. Their demands are thus:
- Free tickling sticks for all
- The abolition of the Community Charge, replacing it with a tax on sanity
- Unarmed transportation to a small fortress, based somewhere on the Isle of Scilly (geddit?)
Of course, such preposterous requests are simply out of the question, so the plan comes to fruition...
In the first section of this two-load game, you, as mission controller, must deploy your men to positions marked by crosses on the building plan. Tread carefully, as the Loonies are watching for any movement using high-powered spotlights.
When your troops are in position, the scene switches to the building itself. Here, you must strategically place the remaining soldiers (positioned on the rooftop) around the top of the siege site, ready to abseil down to enter through the windows below. Should any terrorists appear at the windows, you can use your marksmen to dispose of them. Be careful, however, as you can only make out silhouettes of whoever is inside - it could be either a terrorist or a hostage!
Once inside, you must search the three storeys of the Parliament building, shooting any terrorists encountered. Some are relatively simple to take out, while others will dodge and weave whilst shooting back at you. The most dangerous terrorists, however, are the ones standing in front of a hostage. Your orders are to bring the Green Party members out alive - all of them - and the MRLs know that.
Hostages is yet another polished piece of original software from Infogrames. Both C64 and Amiga versions are equally well-presented, with the top half of the screen displaying the action while the remainder shows the mission map, time and soldier currently under control.
Throughout both game sections enormous tension builds up, just as it would in a similar real-life siege. However, with just the two sections, gameplay is very limited in variety and I'm not sure the initial appeal will last that long.
While both loads vary wildly in format, the two sections hold together well as a game. Troop deployment in level one is a lot of fun, with your man having to duck, dive, somersault and get shot every time a spotlight comes your way.
Where Hostages really comes into its own, though, is on the second load. Even with the map an enormous feeling of "who's there?" is present every time you turn a corner. Lasting qualities are questionable, due to the lack of stages, but there are a host of difficulty levels which should keep most budding SASers going for a while.
Large array of options, good screen layout.
Good animation but graphics generally lacking in detail.
Good intermittent tunes and typical firing effects.
Four missions, but generally lacking variety.
An above-average, original game with dubious lasting appeal.
Plenty of options.
Detailed and atmospheric.
Some nice tunes and effects.
General lack of gameplay variety.
Interesting, at least in the short-term.