The Cardinal Of The Kremlin (Accolade) Review | Amiga Power - Everygamegoing

Amiga Power

The Cardinal Of The Kremlin
By Accolade
Amiga 500/600

Published in Amiga Power #4

Tom Clancy's thriller comes in from the cold and onto the Amiga

The Cardinal Of The Kremlin

When a new game based on one of Tom Clancy's techno-thriller novels landed on my desk I expected to be thrown head first into a sea of three letter abbreviations, military jargon and worryingly plausible conspiracy theories. And - would you believe it? - I was right.

Not that any of that's a bad thing, however - it certainly helps build up the Cold War atmosphere a treat. Here is a game which - the assumed grovelling respect for all things military aside - successfully and excitingly allows us to (as Clancy puts it in the manual) "participate in events beyond our daily life". In particular, events surrounding the development of a working SDI system by the US military, with the help of the CIA, under the protection of the FBI, and in competition with the KGB. (With me so far?) Of course, this is all milk and honey to Clancy fans, who love nothing better than to gorge themselves on politics, corruption and the secrets of the powerful.

As head of the Central Intelligence Agency (there's no messing about in this game!) and chief of the so-called Star Wars project, you must control the development and defence of your own missile-destroying satellite laser system while undermining the Soviets' project. At your disposal are scientists, soldiers, spies and satellites which you must deploy around the world.

The Cardinal Of The Kremlin

Each area of your influence is represented by a button on screen (there are ten) which you use to hire, fire and generally delegate. For example, to start with you'll need to choose your most trustworthy programmer to head up your computer department, checking how smart, and how reliable, the candidates are on a series of easy-to-read meters. It's all fairly simple click and select strategy stuff, and though there are plenty of tasks to undertake, it does have a tendency to become rather tedious after a few hours - a bit like attempting all your ironing in one go.

Of course, it's not as simple as that. For a start, you'll have to watch out for employees burning out (or getting themselves kidnapped!) and take steps to prevent it or correct things once it's happened, while at the same time keeping in touch with your spies and events further afield. Your main concern is to get some of your own lasers into space before the Soviets can complete their development programme - something you achieve by a) getting your stuff finished as fast as possible, and b) doing your best to hamper the Soviet project by sending a commando operative against them.

Unfortunately, this potentially most exciting bit turns out to be something of a disaster - you're thrust from a reasonably captivating strategy game into a two dimensional seek out and destroy sequence of masterful banality, and it mucks things up a treat. It would not look amiss in an infant school programming class. (It's amazing how much the programmers think they can get away with...)

The Cardinal Of The Kremlin

It's a shame, because as strategy games go, The Cardinal Of The Kremlin is busy and believable without being overly complex. The manual is simple and direct, and it takes no time at all to get playing. For the most part it is a graphically acceptable and smooth (if rather uninspiring) ride, but ultimately you're left with a feeling that the various tasks don't seem to connect awfully well.

Generally then, a weak attempt to transfer Clancy's slightly dubious (but undeniably readable) works to silicon. For fans the best bet must still be Grandslam's The Hunt For Red October, which succeeds where this game fails - in mixing good strategy with exciting action without hurting either.

The Bottom Line

Believable and reasonably captivating strategy affair spoiled completely by an inane arcade sequence, positioned ludicrously at the centre of the game. Clancy fans, like the rest of us, should expect a good deal more.

Colin Campbell

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