Personal Computer News15th December 1984
Published in Personal Computer News #091
How do people cram quite so much programming into the Spectrum? There's enough in Combat Lynx to take you hours just to master the controls, let alone the strategic planning.
The game is a real-time battle simulation, so there's something for nearly all tastes - shoot-'em-up, flight navigation and strategy. The game is fairly straightforward - you pilot a helicopter, the only air support for your bases. There are four skill levels; at the highest you must maintain and defend six bases and enemy pressure is much higher.
On arrival at a base, fuel and ammo can be picked up, personnel delivered and injured combatants collected for treatment at Base zero. When arming the chopper you can select from cannon, mines, rockets, etc. up to your maximum payload. But the more heavily armed you are, the less fuel you can carry.
There are so many different keys to press that it's very confusing at first. Flying the whirlybird is easy enough, though the display shifts alarmingly between the compass quarters. There's plenty to keep you occupied in the cockpit. You have to keep an eye on the compass, your coordinates, an altimeter, flight control instrument gauges, weapons and message screen.
The best part is the main view which shows the Lynx in the centre, above a 3D scrolling landscape. The Lynx is rather small, and there are attribute problems, but it's very nicely done, twisting and turning convincingly.
The background is also very good. There are green fields with white contour outlines against a blue sky. Enemy forces like gun emplacements are wireframe, and it's quite something to hunt down and pursue a tank. The hilly landscape is dotted with trees and houses which drift past underneath the copter as you search for the enemy. The perspective isn't perfect, but the effect is very good all the game.
Pressing M takes you to the navigation map. This is a window on the battlefield, with the Lynx in the middle. You can scroll the window to check for enemy movements. Symols show the bases, tanks, lorries, etc, which are circled if they belong to allied forces. These are a bit indistinct and it's difficult to tell what's what.
Another M and you're back in the pilot's seat. If you're lost you can always request base coordinates via the micro screen, but you'll have to be quick writing them down. It's through the micro-screen, which flashes when a message has been received, that information about attacks on bases is relayed.
Once Base zero has been knocked out you're in trouble, as that's the only place personnel can be regenerated. Enemy troops can be destroyed by the advanced weaponry system on board the Lynx. There are rockets, cannon, machine guns, tanks missiles, Sidewinders and mines. A good ploy to kick off with is to make a few trial sorties from Base zero, laying a heavy minefield and getting in some flying practice. Then you can pick up some personnel and head off for the nearest base. Weapons systems have to be primed before you can use them, and some have sights to help your aim.
It's not just a question of knocking out a few tanks or guns. The enemy has substantial air power and fast jets are likely to make mincemeat out of you. Flying too high, particularly at the higher skill levels makes you open to missile attack, while flying low demands the utmost attention.
There are a few quibbles; the sound gets monotonous, the regular beat of the blades never changes and is only interrupted by rather poor firing noises or the sound of your demise. Another chance was missed here - there's no crash, no flames, just a disappointing sort of hiss and a broken-up shape. The graphics are a bit jerky; a smoother scroll would improve matters.
But these are minor points and don't really detract from the addiction of the game. Combat Lynx is one of the new breed of games that really gets you working hard, grabs your attention and gets harder as you get better. A winner.