Amstrad Computer User1st January 1987
Published in Amstrad Computer User #26
They Stole A Million
Ever felt the need to rob a bank? Wanted to be a big wheel in the Underground (nah, not a tube train driver)? Feel like making a quick million, without paying HM Inspectorate a thruppeny bit? Right then, listen up. And listen good. The Activision mob has come up with this program.
Based on SWAG, Software for Aspiring Gangsters (beats AMSDOS!), it gives the small-time crook with big-time aspirations the chance to shine.
It contains a database on the very best blaggers for hire, their specialities, their histories and their prices. It also has a list of fences, suitable targets, and blueprints of building plans, alarm info and all that sort of useful trivia needed for the perfect crime.
Your first job is to build up a complete picture of your intended target. There are five to work through, from a coin shop to a museum. At the outset, you've got a few thousand pounds. You have to buy information about the target, blueprints, safe details, times and so on. Once you've got that lot, it's hiring time.
The criminals available to you all have two skills, primary and secondary. They're fastest at their primary skill, quite nippy at their secondary and a bit sluggish at any others.
So if you pick someone who's a safecracker first and an electronics whizz second, he'll get a safe open in 20 seconds and disarm an alarm in 30, whereas he'd take longer to pick a lock.
Each denizen of the underworld takes a fee and a cut of the final take. Once you've hand-picked your team, it's time to go onto the planning stage.
The planning stage is carried out on the blueprint. You guide each member of the team around the plan, giving him instructions at each stage.
Each action takes time. Say you get Lefty the Locksmith to pick the front door lock (10 seconds), then move him to the back room (7 seconds) and deactivate the alarm (20 seconds), then anyone following him couldn't get in for 10 seconds, or break into a display case before 37 seconds were up.
And it's possible for people to bump into each other, and slow each other down. At this stage, you can edit the tracks you're creating and fine tune everything.
But the final test comes when it's time to do the job. During the job itself everyone goes off and follows their instructions. If there's anything you've overlooked, this is when you'll find out.
This is also the only stage where you can take an active part in things. Usually you're lookout, but you can wander around the building under attack, lending a helping hand. You can also tell everyone to run for it, if the fuzz happen past.
If all goes well, your bank account gets fatter and you're ready for the next job. Else it's into the jug for you, my lad.
All of the above is driven by ye olde joystick, with icons, menus and pointers in the best tradition. Someone send a copy to Brazil. Ronnie would love it.
Computer games tend to cast you on the side of the Good Guy. Not this one. A wonderfully conceived and executed (wrong word . ..) tentative management game, with nice touches of amour and dry wit.
Easy to use. but demanding of the criminal masterbrain. It would be nice to be able to edit your team members after the plan of action stage, or at least inspect their files, but that's nothing a piece of paper can't solve.
Quite a compulsive bit of criminal coding.
Just my sort of game as I've always wanted to rob a bank. That's aiming a bit high though. You need to do the smaller jobs first in order to acquire the cash to pay the bigtime bank robbers. I couldn't even manage the coin shop!
Picking your team of cliched crooks from their mug shots and credentials was great fun but I kept forgetting the driver or trying to choose men I couldn't afford.
As for the crime itself, well I think the moral of the tale was I should stick to the straight and narrow - I don't think I'm alit out for a life of crime, even on the computer, but it's great fun having a go.
It's like this, boys: First ya hire da team wid da name. Then ya makes da whole thing look easy. Next thing ya know, all da schmucks is buyin' it fer Christmas. We'll make a mint Enter the reviewer Mafia ("There's no such thing as the Mafia"), to tell all the good people that this is almost a strategy game with graphics.
The second half is adequate, but the sprites are just a wee bit on the small side. When doing anything to a safe or door, they appear to be vigorously poking at it with their index fingers (ex programmers?). A bit limited in scope for me.
I'll stick to the real thing.