Action Force

by Link Tomlin, Martin Wheeler, Sam Garforth
Virgin Games Ltd
Crash Issue 46, Nov 1987   page(s) 28,29

Producer: Virgin Games
Retail Price: £9.95
Author: Gang of Five

Botsneda is an island under siege. COBRA has launched an attack and vital data has been left on a computer disk in the occupied zone, in this licence from the eponymous toys.

Flint, Lady Jaye and Quick Kick have been sent in using an AWE Striker craft to get that disk. To allow greater speed, the AWE has had its weaponry removed, so Snake Eyes must defend the craft from above, manoeuvring with the aid of a multidirectional helipack.

The way ahead is difficult for even the AWE and a path must be cleared through the forest of electrical-charge-generators, barricades and rocket silos.

Snake Eyes is equipped with a powerful gun, with which he can take out ground-to-air missiles fired from the silos (though if he's hit by one of the deadly projectiles, he loses one of his four lives). With this weapon he can also blast out sections of electrical discharges and barricades, and earn points by piercing the targets that hang in the sky. However, if this hovering warrior flies into one before he's burst it, yet another life is removed from his meagre stock.

Concrete barriers seriously impede the progress of the AWE Striker, and open stretches of canal water cannot be crossed at all by the land-based vehicle. So pontoon bridge sections must be picked and carried by Snake Eyes to where they are needed. With a bridge complete, the Striker can move on.

Snake Eyes cannot be too profligate in his use of ammunition and fuel; his supplies are strictly limited. A warning is given when his fuel reserve has fallen to a dangerous levels. - Both ammunition and fuel can be topped up, but neither should be picked up prematurely as already full tanks and magazines cannot take more.


Joysticks: Cursor, Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: colourful, but the scrolling is jerky
Sound: little
Options: definable keys

Action Force is just too-oo-oo hard. You're always on the move - there's no stopping in midflight for a quick read of The Independent, and though the idea is simple the awkward control method makes its appeal shortlived - especially for the age group at which the toys are aimed. And I can't really say this'll make me go out and buy the toys either!
PAUL [41%]

Action Force is a really well-presented, pathetic game. Once you've got past the slick ACTION FORCE writing and music it looks, and plays, just like Durell's now ageing Harrier Attack (from pre-CRASH days). The houses and the main character are very crude and simplistic, and the scrolling and the irritating way the bombs explode up your posterior (Nick Roberts's Daft Dictionary) make up a bad game with no lastability.
NICK [24%]

Action Force comes as a unwelcome surprise from the Gang Of Five, though the front end is very pleasant indeed. Unfortunately the game itself lacks substance, and jerky, if colourful, graphics do little to entice you into it
RICKY [39%]

Presentation: 48%
Graphics: 28%
Playability: 23%
Addictive Qualities: 23%
Overall: 35%

Summary: General Rating: Too difficult, unattractive and a wasted licence.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 25, Jan 1988   page(s) 105

Reviewer: Rick Robson

Blam! Bam! Kapow!!! (Has he fallen down the stairs again? Poor old soul. Ed) No I haven't - it's megadeath time, you blood and battle fanatics. Action Force is a fast and furious - well, reasonably cross, arcade shooter from Virgins very own SAS software team, The Gang Of Five.

The game uses the characters from the toy soldier sets that go under the same general title. Like everything else, Action Force is also a comic, a TV series and a set of monogrammed bath mats, but the toys started it all off. So as Snake Eyes, equipped with a helipack and rapid fire rifle, you must fly across Botsneda, avoiding ground-to-air missiles and shooting out electrical generators and barricades. This isn't just to satisfy your own blood lust and whip up a huge points total, you're also clearing a path for the AWE Striker, with its crew of Flint, Lady Jaye and Quick Kick who must recover a hard disk of top secret info before it falls into enemy hands. Well, that's the excuse, anyway.

With five lives and eight levels of difficulty there's plenty here to occupy you. Most people though, want more out of a game than just being kept busy. Many of Action Force's features are echoes of other genre games, from Commando to Saboteur. Okay, originality's not everything, but for a full price game you do expect a bit more speed and zip than this has to offer - and there's not a decent explosion in sight! It's appeal, I'm sure, will be more to fans of the toys than to true arcaders.

Graphics: 6/10
Playability: 7/10
Value For Money: 5/10
Addictiveness: 6/10
Overall: 6/10

Summary: Second-hand shoot 'em up masquerading as exciting toy 'n' comic licence. Not bad, but hardly gripping.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 68, Nov 1987   page(s) 23

Label: Virgin
Authors: Martin Wheeler, Link Tomlin
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: Various
Price: £7.95
Reviewer: Tamara Howard

Action Force are sort of bendy toys in balaclavas and you can imagine the sort of gung-ho game that's likely to produce. And you'd be right, more or less.

The idea of the game is to get a jeep fill of boffins from one end of a war-torn, trouble-ridden island to the other so they can decode the computers and stuff the evil enemy. (The plot, you may have noticed, both unoriginal and unappealing, but don't let that worry you.)

Now. You're not driving the jeep. The boffins are doing that. (They can't be that boffinish if they can drive, never saw Uncle Quentin drive so much as a moped, did you?) in fact, you're not even in the jeep at all. You are in the air, because you play the character of Snake's Eyes, and he's a pretty touch sharp shooter so he gets to jet about in a jet pack thingy!!

What happens is this. The jeep needs protection (the cannon having been taken off the back of it in case the boffins shoot themselves in the foot). It's up to you to clear a path across the island for the jeep, dodging the ground to air missiles, shooting the funny yellow things with numbers in them that lurk in the background for no apparent reason other than to get in your way and increase your score. Every now and then you'll come across a little package that contains fuel and ammunition. Useful items to collect, these.

In between picking up bits and bobs and mowing down things, you have to make sure that the jeep is keeping up. It has one or two problems with life.

And since it's strictly a floating jeep, getting it across the water is only possible only by shifting pontoon bridges around the place. You have to fly about dodging rockets, locate a pontoon bridge, pick it up (no easy task that) and then drop it in front of the jeep which will obligingly trundle on to it and wait patiently for the next one. Treat the jeep rather like a backward two-year old and you'll get on famously.

As you carry on through the eight increasingly tricky levels. scrolling your way gently left to right, things get increasingly sticky and that jeep starts to become a real pain in the neck. You're trying to blow up a pylon, and you can't get any further than point X because the jeep is straining at the bit, stuck on some pontoon somewhere. The temptation to push it in the water is indescribable.

Apart from that, Action Force is very good. It's incredibly hard, and marvellously addictive. It looks wonderful too. The graphics are smooth and clear and there's hardly any trace of attribute clash.

The scenery changes as the levels progress. You start off with towers and burnt out buildings, surrounded by water, and progress to palm trees, deserts and pylons. The things to dodge change too. From big rockets to massive electricity generators, to pylons to rogue electric currents.

The programming was done by the same people who did Rebel for Virgin, and it shows. Rebel looked big, bold and sharp, and so does Action Force. It's one hell of a good game.

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Overall: 9/10

Summary: Complex, fast moving arcade action that's going to take a long time to master. Great to look at and great to play.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

C&VG (Computer & Video Games) Issue 74, Dec 1987   page(s) 45

MACHINES: C64/Spectrum/Amstrad
SUPPLIER: Virgin Games
PRICE: £7.95 (Spec), £8.95 (Ams), £9.95 (C64)

This is, quite simply, Virgin's best release since Dan Dare. And it comes as no surprise that, like DD, Action Force has been put together by The Gang of Five. Its based on the comic toys of the same name - but don't let that put you off. Likeh Thundercats, also reviewed this ish, the game stands up in its own right as a good, solid blaster.

But there's a bit of arcade adventure and strategy thrown in for good measure - making Action Force one of the few games around right now that will last beyond the first few plays.

True to form Gang has put together two completely different games on the Spectrum and 64. OK, so some of the elements are the same - but if you've got a 64 don't expect to be able to beat the game on your mate's Spectrum.

Meanwhile on with the review. First we'll take a look at the scenario.

The small island of Botsneda, just off the mainland, was heavily populated by civilian and military personnel. A ruthless attack by COBRA, the enemy, meant the evacuation of civilians from the tourist resorts of Botsneda.

The military installation was not so lucky. Despite the latest early warning systems guarding the installation, they only realised they were being attacked after it was too late to retaliate.

The only sensible option was to withdraw, which was carried out swiftly. However, the allied forces destroyed much of the installation to prevent it falling into enemy hands. The eastern sector of the installation could not be destroyed during the attack as there wasn't time, and certain classified information may now be in the evil clutches of COBRA! The allies will have many embarrassing questions to answer about just how this was allowed to happen.

Botsneda's closeness to the mainland is of great strategic advantage to the enemy. Cobra cannot be allowed to consolidate their position, nor must they have the time to retrieve and analyse the classified information left behind on the installation.

Time is of the essence; but conventional forces cannot be used because their planning and deployment will take time.

The easier sector of the military installation was a spy base which collected information about COBRA personnel and tactics. The main database is on hard disc attached to the computer, Gun-happy Dreadnoks may well have destroyed it, but the risk cannot be taken, if the enemy studies the intelligence information they will know how to change their tactics and defence systems to defeat the allied forces, Alas, the information will take years to replace.

A crack squad is needed to mount an immediate raid to get back the information (if it is still intact) and get out again.

The Action Force squad will land on the western sector of the island, cutting straight through enemy defences. A.W.E. Striker and Dragonfly are to carry out the raid.

The All Weather and Environment Striker has four-wheel drive and is capable of speeds of 60 MPH cross country. Roll bars protect both passengers. Its biggest assets are its manoeuvrability, speed and smooth passage over rough terrain.

A.W.E. Striker carries delicate tapping equipment necessary to retrieve the classified information from the hard disc.

Graphics vary in all versions. The 64 version has jets, mini-copters, energy barriers all on a background of iron girder type constructions.

The Spectrum version has detailed buildings and tanks and gun emplacements - which reminded me a bit of Green Beret, although the game is totally different.

The Striker and the Dragonfly chopper look different in both games, although the basic principle of protecting the Striker by flying the Dragonfly around blasting a clear path while at the same time moving bits of bridge around are the same.

I found the C64 easier initially for although the Spectrum version is more challenging it takes more time to get into. You have to move quick - in both versions - dodging enemy fire while making sure the bridges are in place for the Striker to cross.

There are eight challenging levels to complete - each with different hazards and enemies to overcome, lots of tactics to be learned and plenty of opportunities for all you tipsters to be learned and plenty of opportunities for all you tipsters to get you maps and tips printed in ideas central!

Great presentation, with info screens appearing between levels giving details about the next set of enemies you'll encounter, nice hi-score charts, nice sound effects works!

Great to see Virgin come up with a winner after so many disappointing games this year.

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Graphics: 9/10
Sound: 7/10
Value: 9/10
Playability: 10/10

Transcript by Chris Bourne

ACE (Advanced Computer Entertainment) Issue 4, Jan 1988   page(s) 84


VIRGIN'S Gang of Five programming team has a deservedly high reputation, which, unfortunately, is unlikely to be furthered with Action Force.

In this game of the toy, you control a Dragonfly helicopter blasting the skies in order to protect a C5-type buggy on its way to crack the enemy computer base. Along with indiscriminate shooting (turn on that autofire) you must also winch up bridges and drop them so that the AWE Striker buggy doesn't fall down craters and shoot out electrical fence installations. Some nice graphics and fast action, but the interest palls fairly quickly.

C64, £9.95cs, Dec 87
Spectrum, £9.95cs, Dec 87
Spectrum +3, £14.95dk, Dec 87

Predicted Interest Curve

1 min: 75/100
1 hour: 70/100
1 day: 60/100
1 week: 30/100
1 month: 20/100
1 year: 5/100

Ace Rating: 543/1000

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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