Earth's heroic defender, featured in so many games, has obviously made a pig's ear of it, for an alien invasion fleet has reached our world and reduced it to a wasteland (have you looked out of the window recently?).
Humanity barely survived, with only a lucky few now living underground, including one very special man. He's mean. He's tough. He's angry. He's got a nice pair of dark glasses. And he can open a packet of dry-roasted peanuts without using his teeth. He is... The Vindicator (impressed?). His only purpose in life is to strike back at the aliens.
First, he must fight through a confusing maze of corridors in an alien outpost in order to break into its computer. The maze that makes up level one is shown as a number of isometric flick screens, with a number of dispays surrounding this action area. Compass and location coordinates help you find your way around.
Oxygen level is vital as the air in the complex is poisoned and can only be survived by regularly picking up supplies of oxy-gum which lie in alien-infested supply room. The aliens fire guns and spit venom (that's when they like you!). When killed, they surrender lift passes (for access to the other three floors) and bomb components to destroy the base. Computer cards are also found in this way, but a word puzzle must be solved on usage.
Next you take to your fighter plane, using your machine guns and an allocation of bombs to destroy the enemy vehicles and buildings. Extra fuel can be picked up on the way.
Switching to your jeep, enemy scenes are fought through again with machine gun fire and a limited number of grenades. A gigantic lobster is battled against, then you are back on foot to explore the catacombs. You face robot tanks and helicopters before confronting the ultimate challenge of the Mutoid Guardian.
The Vindicator was an originally conceived game which Imagine daubed with the subtitle Green Beret II. This multi-stage game and the Konami coin-op conversion are both highly difficult but in this case the trickyness is due to the utter confusion of the maze section rather than fierce opponents. The drab grey corridor walls offer no landmarks and you constantly have to reassess your position, the compass being of slight help.
The Vindicator sprite himself is very pleasing to the eye (though he does mince a bit as he exits screen left/right!) and the aliens he faces are equally well-coloured and defined. The music has a depressing quality which suits the oppressive nature of a world destroyed by an alien invasion but is perhaps not up-tempo enough to spur a player on. Stage one of The Vindicator is just too tedious for me to find the shoot-'em-up stages which follow it worth the effort.
When games are a combination of strategy and shoot-'em-up action, you usually find that there is a blasting stage followed by a puzzle. The Vindicator, on the other hand, has the situation reversed. To get to the shoot-'em-up stage, you have to negotiate an unbelievably tedious maze and puzzle section.
The puzzles themselves aren't that difficult - it's just getting the computer to let you play them that's hard: walking round a seemingly endless maze is not my idea of fun. The look and sound of the game are very good indeed with a tough-looking main character running through steel-plated corridors, but the best graphics in the world wouldn't stop me from giving up playing this. It's just too frustrating and, maybe more importantly, boring to maintain interest.
The advertising campaign for Vindicator gives the impression that you play the part of a really hard soldier battling against the enemy. This is true, but only in the later sections of the game. To get to this part, you have to plod through an incredibly boring maze sequence which consists of what seems to be miles and miles of identical corridor sections.
This ruins what is a potentially good game, since I just got so frustrated that I gave up trying (after a lot of attempts) to find the way out.
The scrolling battle scenes could be arcade quality and the game would still be struggling to climb out of the "average" bracket, just because the dull first level will put people off continuing, myself included.
Selectable soundtrack but otherwise standard.
Detailed and well-coloured sprites matched with effective backgrounds.
Suitably harsh SF music, but it can become annoying.
The maze section is very confusing and makes first plays frustrating.
Having to battle through the tedious first level severely dampens enthusiasm for further stages.
An ambitious sequel to Green Beret which lacks playability.