Amstrad Action1st January 1987
Published in Amstrad Action #16
They Stole A Million
Forget all those games that supposedly give you the chance to 'act out the role of' because this is the real thing. It lets you pick a target to rob, choose your team from among the underworld's best, plan the raid in meticulous detail and then carry it out under the constant threat of discovery.
The game loads in two parts. In the first you gain information about the target and hire your team, and in the second you plan and then execute the raid. There are five targets: a coin dealer, art gallery, diamond merchant, high street bank and museum. The potential take from each job increases, as do the risks of failure through the more complicated nature of the targets.
The first part is viewed as a whole series of window menus which provide a large number of frames of information. All start from a menu containing seven options. You usually need only three: set the target, pick your team and then pick a fence. You can also select new game, load team, save team and plan raid.
Setting a target is simple enough: to start with, you'll be able to afford the blueprints for only the coin dealer.
Once you've bought those you can go on to find out additional information about the job under three headings: value of swag, security data and alarm systems. Some of this information is free, but you'll have to pay for some pieces which may be crucial to the success of the job. The value of the swag will tell you what objects can be found, where, and how much you'll be able to fence them for. Security data has details on any safes, guards or cameras you might have to deal with. Under the third heading you learn where the alarm systems are, what kind, and how to disable them.
You can now go and hire your team from the 18 gangsters available. They all have special expertise: safe-cracking, locks, alarms and driving. You'll always need a driver but what other personnel you take depends on the job in question and what you can afford. Up to four men can go on a job with you, but make sure you need them all. Each man will want an initial payment and a cut of the take, so even if you succeed with the robbery you need to get enough loot to come out in profit.
Once you've appointed a fence who can sell the things you intend to steal, it's on to the planning of the raid. Here you have to plot the path of every member of the team on the blueprint of the target. The blueprint will contain any information you've bought, so if you weren't thorough in your planning you may be missing crucial data.
Planning the routes isn't easy and requires a lot of thought and organisation. Routes have to be carefully timed so that members of the team don't block each other from doing things and don't set off any alarms either. Locks will have to be picked, safes cracked or blown open, cases robbed and alarms deactivated. There's a nice icon-driven editing system that controls the whole thing and allows you to delete moves, insert them and follow a team member's route.
When you're satisfied with the plan you can actually commit the robbery. The blueprint fills in to give you an overhead view of rooms in the building as your men make their way through them. Messages are relayed back to you on each man's progress. Throughout the action you can control the boss: you can move him around freely, performing tasks, assisting other team members, freezing the action because of a police patrol, or aborting the job to go back to the blueprint stage.
If you successfully complete the job, you can carry on and try to do another one or go back and try to make an even better job of it.
The first part of the game is quite humorous with its underworld characters and target descriptions, but the real challenge is in the blueprint planning. Here you have to plan meticulously. It's quite surprising how much thought it requires before you can get it right. The "window menu system is well implemented and the blueprint and robbery stages are also very easy to use and look good.
It will take a lot of practice before you can steal that million but it's tremendous fun watching a successful robbery go through without a hitch. It's unlike any other game I've seen before, packed with originality and interesting things to do.
What a wonderfully new concept. Trying to recruit, plan and hopefully run off with enough bucks to keep you in order for the rest of your life. This is certainly an enticing game that will keep you plugging away at it until even the Narburak Museum has fallen to your foul deeds.
First Day Target Score
Complete the coin-dealer blag with profit.
Green Screen View
Come on, guv, the coast is clear!
P. Five targets of increasing difficulty.
P. Humorous descriptions in part one.
P. Good use of windows in part one and icons in part two.
P. Part two requires lots of planning and thought.
P. Great watching the blag going down.
P. Very original, unlike anything I've played before.
N. The planning may not appeal to all tastes.