Does the decline of Western civilization bother you? Do you lie awake at night fretting over the gutter press, the loss of faith and rampant philistinism? In US Gold's latest release, a cross between Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers and Cold War paranoia, the real reason for the decline is far more sinister than you could possibly have imagined.
Deep within a huge fortress, the mysterious Doctor K has been subverting the human race by placing biogenetically created beings in key positions in society. These beings have been subtly planting dangerous, evil thoughts into the minds of the populace so that one day Doctor K can emerge as a glorious leader and rule the world.
Who can save us from this terrible threat? Who else but the FBI? The feds have selected two crack commandos, Ben Breaker and Andy Attacker, to infiltrate Doctor K's fortress and crack down on his nefarious plans.
You and a friend adopt the roles of the two heroes, infiltrate Doctor K's fortress, fight your way past the Doctor's guards and plant explosives in key positions to destroy the complex. These points have been conveniently marked with large red X's by previous infiltrators who didn't have time to get the bombs in place.
The commandos are armed with machine guns and a limited supply of ammunition - including three super bombs which destroy all guards in the vicinity. Extra supplies can be found in cases dropped by the earlier, unsuccessful agents, which can contain anything from extra bullets to rocket launchers.
Once the key locations in each zone have been primed with explosives, Ben and Andy can safely travel to the next area. They travel through increasingly dangerous scenarios until reaching the laboratory where Doctor K creates his awful monsters.
Arc have done a stirling job squashing the split-screen graphics of the arcade original onto the somewhat smaller ST display. All the sprites have been carefully designed so their original character has been retained and the scenery has kept the solid feel of the coin-op mazes.
The title sequence loses some of the elements of the original - such as the isometric view of the fortress at the start - but the tense atmosphere and delapidated scenery has been enriched by rapidly changing intro screens.
The sound effects aren't as powerful as they might have been because the deafening blasts of rockets and the rattle of machine guns hace been replaced by simple spot effects. The only way Arc could have made the ST version look more like the original would have been to drop the standard ST graphics and plump for the STE's extended palette.
Crackdown wasn't the most well received coin-op, which raises questions about the validity of converting it to home machines, but this conversion proves to be surprisingly enjoyable - especially when battling through the levels with a friend.
At first it seems as if the difficulty level is a little too high because the heroes are mown down almost immediately. Perseverance, however, reaps its reward and you soon learn how to use walls as cover and find quicker ways through the mazes. The going is still tough though, so it's a good while before you wipe out the Doctor and his troops.
Crackdown is an intriguing romp and worth a few hours of anyone's time. Don't just take my word for it - try it out!