A warm sunny day in Paris is disturbed by a bunch of terrorist storming a local Embassy and holding all within hostage. As the head of the Direct Intervention Team (DICT) your job is to guide six men through the Embassy on a rescue mission.
You get a choice of difficulty levels: Lieutenant, Captain and Commander. The higher the rank the more terrorists there are to kill, the more hostages to rescue and less time to do it in. Choose from four missions plus a training mission to get you used to the controls: Target, Ultimatum, Rescue and Assault.
The first part sees you guiding three marksmen into position. Codenamed Delta, Echo and Mike they must be individually moved. Calling up a map of the Embassy and its surrounding area shows three red X's, head for these. The terrorists are out in force: with spotlights they try to track each man and shoot him. Your job is to guide each soldier from doorway to doorway and dodge the flying bullets. Once all three operatives are in position the rest of the team abseil onto the roof and enter the building via a kicked in window.
Hostages is great fun to play mainly because the action is split into several sections. Dodging bullets is a dangerous business, but sat in an armchair with joystick in hand a bit of flying lead here and there is nothing.
Hostages is a brilliant game. It has outstanding graphics, sound and playability and offers the player a real challenge. Each section is well presented and they're linked by animated sequences that adit that extra quality. Much of the game is in monochrome but not that you'd notice, as only a small area of the screen is used to play the game, the rest is taken up with colourful backdrops, the time and the names of the paratroopers. Variety abounds in Hostages: each stage is different and tests new skills as you play. You have to dodge spot lights and run in and out of buildings, move gun sights around the building shooting terrorists in windows for are they hostages?), abseil down a wall and smash through windows. There's also a 3D section running through the rooms in the Embassy, shooting terrorists and rescuing the hostages. I enjoyed every single minute of Hostages and I'm sure you will too. An excellent game.
£9.99 cass/£14.99 disk
Reviewer: Rich Pelley
Right, first off I ought to tell you that Hostages is French. So guess what? Yes, okay, so it comes from France, but what else? Well, bearing in mind everything we know about French games, don't you think it's fairly likely to be a bit, well, 'funny'? You know, packed with lunatic premises, bizarre futuristic sporting contests, badly-translated English and the odd naked woman? Mmm, you would, wouldn't you? Well, prepare yourselves for a surprise. 'Cos spookily unbelievable as it may seem Hostages is actually a reasonably straightforward arcade-cum-strategy thingie.
Here's the plot. "Innocent people have been swiped from under your nose, terrorists have abandoned their cars, entered an Embassy and taken over the building. You have to get six men into the building and rescue the hostages." Gulp! (Excuse me a mo while I just nip to the toilet for a second.)
Right, I'm back from the loo, all dressed up in my best anti-terrorist balaclava and ready to go. So now what? Well, first I've got to get three of my men into sniper positions around the building. But (oh no!) the terrorists seem to have worked out a 'cunning' plan to rumble me - they'll simply shoot anyone they see approaching on sight! A bit of a problem, you might think, but luckily nightfall comes to the rescue. All the terrorists can see now are the bits where their searchlights are shining. Duck, leap and roll your men one by one across the horizontally-scrolling screen, until they (hopefully) reach their pre-set starting positions, and we're ready to go.
Now for the next level, which is the assault on the embassy. All you've got to do is get in the building and kill all the terrorists (without injuring the hostages) - simple, eh? You've got two ways to go really. Either a) abseil some men down the side of the building with some gentle wibbling of the joystick, enter through a window, find the terrorists and shoot them, or b) have your sniper try and shoot them through the windows. Clear a floor of terrorists, and you can place the rescued hostages in a safe room before moving onto the next floor. Of course, you can flip between characters, using them in combinations to clear particularly tricky rooms, and it's often wise to use your snipers to take out anyone foolish enough to lurk too near a window.
In the graphics department things are good - very good in fact, especially the first level. The only problem is it's all a bit easy. Again, the first level (the positioning of the snipers) is the best, but without wanting to sound smug or anything, I can complete it without losing any men every time and then it's on to the second level which is a lot harder, and does (I'm afraid) get a bit boring after a while as well. An excellent conversion but - was it really worth it?
Price: £9.99, £14.99
Reviewer: Garth Sumpter
Cesl beacoup d'action when you are called into co-ordinate the actions of a crack group of elite hostage saving dudes that smoke more embassies than Alex Higgins.
The action is split up into two phases. Phase one involves you positioning three snipers in predetermined positions around the embassy. It's now dark and Delta, Echo and Mike are each equipped with a nightsight However, they'll be no use unless they can get to their predetermined positions from where they can have a crack at any terrorist that is foolish enough to show themselves against a lighted window. But the terrorists have searchlights and so the snipers must run, duck, dive and make use of any dark corners in order not to be spotted. Once they're hit by a compromising beam of light, the dastards in the embassy will shoot at your men and if they hit them it's scratch one operative and you must get at least one sniper into a position before you can move on to stage two.
Now the going gets tough. You've got a least one marksman in position and you've loaded stage two. Three men have been dropped onto the top of the embassy and you must now take control of each in turn by hitting shift one to five and clear the building of terrorists. The three men on the roof must abseil down the walls and with careful timing, he will bash through a window and into the frey. You can put all three in if you like but you'll have to keep an eye on the status lights of each player so that you can get to them if they should be in danger.
Each man is shown on the plan view of each floor. Terrorists are also shown as they move around from room to room. You must work your way around the building, shoot terrorists, rescue hostages and keep all the members of your team alive. Once you've killed a green clad terrorist the hostages will tag along with you. They need to be dumped in the central room on the 3rd floor (the room with no windows) whilst you round up the rest of their nasty little friends.
Hostages has been out for over 18 months on other formats and was well overdue for release on the Spectrum where it should be well received. The graphics are good, although the flick screen turning on phase two gives the terrorists a bit of an edge and generally the game is highly playable, levels making it progressive, easy to get into and should have you up against it for some time!
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