Commodore User1st September 1988
Published in Commodore User #60
The Vindicator is three games for the price of one, which usually means that one of them is passable and the other two are absolute dross. Not so with these three. Ocean have come up with a cracking combination of action, adventure and aliens, each one good enough and tough enough to keep you clamped to the joystick until well past your bedtime.
The first ordeal is a maze of mega proportions on four levels connected by lifts. The maze itself appears in a central play area with all your instrumentation arranged around the sides. As you'd expect things are depicted in fairly classy 3D vision with walls and doors to storerooms on either side of you. What's in the storerooms? For the most part they're occupied by some evil-looking aliens. 'Vindication' consists of vaporising these ugly monsters with your blaster, whereupon you will discover one of three things in the goo on the floor.
It could be a life pass (very handy for inter-floor travel), ammunition cartridge (an essential for the indiscriminate blaster), or a computer pass. Computer passes are hard to come by because they are the key to completing the level. Once you have the pass you must go straight to a computer room where, if you have the right pass, you will be presented with an anagram to crack - usually not too tricky as they are all names of people that work at Ocean.
Once you have solved the anagram to the computer's satisfaction it will activate a bomb in one of the bomb rooms. When you have collected all the cards, cracked all the codes and killed all of the aliens, you've got it cracked. Oh, there's one thing I forgot to mention. The atmosphere in this place is pretty unsavoury so every now and then you have to chew on Oxygum, truly marvellous stuff which helps you to breathe. Plenty of oxygum can be found in storerooms about the place, the only problem is being close to one when you run low on air and start to choke to death. Although it's sad to lose a life, this is where the graphics really shine. The poor guy really looks like he's gasping for his last breath as he crumples to the floor. Needless to say, a map is a really useful thing to have around.
That section shouldn’t take more than a week or two to suss out, then you can move on to some outdoor pursuits. This is a bit Commando-like, but then why not? First you must attack from the air in your 1940's style bomber which is a little out of touch with the futuristic style of the rest of the game, but good fun nonetheless. The idea of the air attack is to bomb some of the obstructions which might get in the way when you return to your jeep and make a land-based assault on the entrance to the catacombs.
To be honest, I have to say that this section is the weakest of the three. Vertical scrolling and ping pong bullets are feeble at the best of times and this definitely needed something to liven it up, unfortunately there isn't anything, at least until section three appears on the horizon in the form of the entrance to the catacombs.
"Deep in the bowels of the Earth, the evil Gog awaits, surrounded by his mutant hordes, each intent on your destruction.2 Well, who am I to argue with that? The only part I can't testify to having seen with my own eyes is this Gog person and having seen his cronies I can't say I'm sorry. Level three is fairly tricky, even by my own high personal standards. As with the other levels you get to start with three lives. If you're lucky they might last you as many minutes.
Once again the graphics are excellent. The mutant hordes really do look menacing - skeletal creatures and an assortment of insect-like things which come at you at a variety of heights so you constantly have to jump, duck and run for cover to preserve your precious skin.
The catacombs are arranged on several levels connected by lifts. These ones work in a different way to those on the first section, you just hop on and up, or down, you go - handy for a fast escape from a tight corner.
The ultimate objective is to survive long enough to get face-to-face with this Gog bloke and blast him to bits. I can't say I made it myself, but according to eyewitness accounts it is an awesome sight.
This could have been a Screen Star, maybe, but the middle section lets it down badly, which is a bit of a shame. It's not so much of a disaster as to ruin the whole thing - more what you might call two thirds of a really great game. But The Vindicator is going to offer a really tough challenge to anyone, and for that reason it's great value for money.