Personal Computer News4th August 1983
Published in Personal Computer News #022
Stand by for yet another impossible arcade game running on a 48K Spectrum. Aim... Fire! Artic's 3D Combat Zone is a blow-for-blow reproduction of the arcade original.
You command a tank on an eerie plain inhabited by wireframe landscapes. Every now and again a shadow dashes from cover to cover. Enemy tanks lurk behind every obstacle. And it's kill or be killed.
Once you get good at it, the enemy gets a little tougher with Flying saucers and Supertanks arriving to back up the initial wave of deformed-looking gunships.
3D Combat Zone is neatly presented, and loaded first time. It runs with a reasonable set of five keys or Kempston joysticks. Don't worry if you haven't got sticks - the keyboard arrangement is very like the levers used in the genuine old original. The only gas about the presentation came in the LOADing instructions. "Assemble the cassette tape at the silent part before the program". PCN's cassette, at least, arrived in one piece.
The radioactive wasteland is a little unnerving. Although you've got an inexhaustible heap of ammo, it takes a while to reload between shots. If you're taking enemy tanks, you either get them in two shots or start running for one of your three lives. They dodge your fire with incredible precision... and they turn on you. They never miss.
Your vision's a bit limited too. Apart from the temptation to do a quick Blue Danube just to watch the superb graphics, your outlook is frighteningly narrow. Fortunately, you've got a radar screen which neatly locates and positions the baddies. At least you get a vague warning that they are coming up behind you. Just before you (and your windshield) crumble into oblivion.
3D Combat Zone is a remarkable piece of programming. I didn't think anything I could see on the Spectrum could surprise me any more. But the graphics are great... despite colour limitations. Only the Spectrum's feeble sound spoils it.
The game itself will hook those who enjoyed the original. It takes a while to bag your first villain, but becomes progressively easier afterwards. Apart from slinking round looking for flying saucers, the magic fades.
I hate to say it, but this has to be a must for anyone with a serious Spectrum collection. And of course, if you played the original, this will provide a good fix in your own home. Can't be good for the nerves though.