Sinclair User

The Sidney Affair
By Infogrames
Spectrum 48K

Published in Sinclair User #61

The Sidney Affair

Vera Cruz part II, Sidney Affair is more of the same. Obviously Sidney Affair inevitably lacks one feature that got Vera Cruz a Classic - it was genuinely original.

This one simply gives you two scenes for the murder setting and, obviously a different plot.

Having said that it really is a lot of fun to play, and in the pure pleasure of puzzle solving it outrates most conventional adventures.

The Sydney Affair

Like Vera Cruz there are two sections to the game, loaded separately in the first you must 'scan' the scene of the crime for clues.

Scene one is a street scene - someone has been murdered and is lying sprawled on the pavement. You move a magnifying glass-shaped icon around the screen - press the space bar to get a 'snapshot' of anything interesting if there is anything interesting it gets highlighted in a window at the bottom of the screen and basic details appear - write them down or print them out. they are the beginning of your investigations.

From the first screen you can discover, among other things, the name of the murdered person, where he lived and the names and addresses of some of the people they knew.

Want a clue? There is someone called Sidney in the game...

The second picture shows the setting from which the shot was fired - more clues here. Both pictures are well done, with a good deal of detail. It has to be said, however, that on our grotty television seeking out likely looking objects was as much a matter of luck as judgement. I came away with a telephone number and around three names. I discovered the type of cartridge used, and a cigarette presumably smoked by the killer...

In Part Two of the game you consult the French police computers and get into contact with a variety of sources in an effort to build up information from your initial discoveries. There are various ways you can use the computer system. In each you need to specify where the information is to be found, who should be contacted, and the question you need answered. It's nicely presented, like Vera Cruz, with a simulation of a computer terminal which prints up a picture of witnesses as you speak to them - it's very well done. (But not as well as the mysterious photo of the kiss in Part One...)

I managed to find a lawyer who had been involved in some very relevant divorce proceedings and learnt some boring facts about the bullets. The way information must be 'assembled' and the way one path of investigation suddenly throws unexpected light on another set of facts is, I would imagine, a lot like real police investigative work. Certainly it is considerably more exciting and addictive than 90% of adventures.

There is one obvious problem with this program, though, fundamentally inherent in the idea - you can only solve it once. This was true of Vera Cruz and is essentially true of most conventional adventures - even those that pretend there is additional fun to be gained from wandering around aimlessly after you've scored 100%.

If you liked Vera Cruz then the message is simple, buy this one.

It has all the same ingredients with a few extras if you like solving adventure puzzles you could well find this an interestingly different challenge.

Overall Summary

Vera Cruz rides again but this is a welcome program for all that. Fascinating and involving effort from over the channel.

Graham Taylor

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