Blowing away crime in the Windy City
Producer: US Gold
Violin Cases: £8.99 cass, £12.99 disk
The 1930s were tough the world over, but Chicago had it roughest. While the rich ate off gold plates, most people stood in line at the soup kitchens. Enough to drive you to drink you say? Well maybe, but it was Prohibition then and alcohol was banned. Being on the border with Canada, smuggling whisky into Chicago was easy.
Prohibition was a dumb idea, but the smugglers' brutality was legendary- no wonder the cops kept out of their way. That was, until I announced I'd raid a warehouse packed with alcohol. The press even printed my route -through the port, city outskirts, city centre then the warehouse itself. It was just me, my machine gun and a few sticks of dynamite against hundreds of hoodlums.
Starting off in the port, there were two levels to walk along. But gun-toting gangsters were popping out from behind crates all over the place. If I wanted to stay alive I had to keep moving. Unfortunately the Thompson machine gun has a big recoil, firing meant I had to stand still. It's a big gun too, so even when I got in my sleek Chevrolet firing meant I had to stick my head out - risking getting it blown off.
Nowadays of course, it's just entertainment for people. The goody gets shot and people leave the cinema - if everyone leaves the movie's over. Myself, I like the gangster movies. The actors look real good, especially the baddies, even if they move a little stiffly. The backgrounds are great too, with enough detail that the lack of colour hardly matters. Chicago 30's is a lot like some of the shoot-'em-up scenes in that RoboCop movie, and while it lacks the variety of that game, it's faster, harder and generally well worth the price of admission.
Joysticks: Cursor, Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: detailed and atmospheric
Sound: fair title tune, in-game shooting effects
Funny accents, violin cases and dames at the ready - the gangsters are in town in Chicago 30's. It's another of those 'shooty shooty' games where the idea is mass slaughter of everything on screen. Great attention has been given to the detail in the graphics and all the sprites are animated well, but unfortunately the screens are mainly monochrome with a colourful border. There is some pretty good sound in there though, with a pleasing tune at the start and a few in-game effects to jolly things along. The main let-down is the lack of variety in the gameplay: just walking along, shooting all the gangsters. However, the game does pick up a bit when you get in the car, and despite a few flaws, it's an action-packed shoot- 'em-up.
I must admit I'm a fan of old gangster movies and I often watch The Untouchables (don't mention that! - Danielle) on TV. So I relished the chance to bump off a few mobsters myself. And I'm glad to say I'm not disappointed; Chicago 30's is a very playable shoot-'em-up. Okay, so the action is very similar to that in RoboCop, but at least you don't have to worry about limited ammo. And a great atmosphere is created by the detailed backdrops - they're monochromatic, but then so are the old films! I especially like the clever cinema screen effect. Chicago 30's combines great presentation with addictive gameplay. You certainly don't need to be drunk to enjoy it!
"Don't shoot me, I'm only the piano player." "Okay, bub, I guess I c'n letcha go. What's yer name by the way?" "Richard Clayderman, sir." "Oh dear, I'm going to have to shoot you after all." Bang.
Chicago in the thirties wasn't the place to be if you were a musician. (What are blithering on about? Ed). Especially if you were a violinist. Encountering a savage bunch of Al Capone's men on a dimly lit street corner wouldn't have been a barrel of laughs if the only protection you could pull from your violin case was... a violin! Lucky for you then, isn't it, that in this game you're not playing the part of Nigel Kennedy. The role you are taking on is that of Detective Elliot; a policeman with a mission - to boldly go where no man has gone before, to... (wrong mission. Ed). Erm, to clear Chicago's streets of gansters and put an end to the illicit alcohol trading of the Maffiosi organisations. Phew. Tall order. Let's have a decko at the game though, come this way, please.
Chicago 30's is a monochrome left/right, right/left scrolling shoot 'em-up, in which the golden rule is simple. Shoot or be shot. There are no innocent bystanders hanging around waiting to collect a stray piece of lead in the spleen, so you can go sprey crazy with your machine-gun.
The name starts with your Elliot sprite immediately under attack from all sides, so it's a good idea to leap onto your belly and let the mobsters shots fly over your head. In fact, it's a good idea to pend a lot of the game in this position as you can't be killed (unless you get sniped at from above, but I'll get back to that in a minute). However from this prone position you can't do much killing yourself, so you have to do loads of leaping to your feet, loosing off a couple of shots and jumping to the ground again. The most dangerous foes are those at windows, behind crates and on rooftops - they're difficult to spot most of the time and can shoot downwards at you and even throw grenades - but they're by no means impossible to dispose of - especially as you've got grenades yourself. If you get far enough, the scene fades then regenerates again and, lo and behold, you're inside a car where you're safe from the villains' fire (but can still shoot them. Ha, ha) The motor doesn't last forever though, so you soon find yourself pounding the beat again, but now there's the added difficulty of the gangsters car to contend with. It zooms in from the left and can only be dealt with by lobbing a grenade in its general direction. Then there's more of the same followed by more of the same again.
The presentation of the game is brilliant however - the action takes place on a cinema screen, with the curtains to either side and, well, take a look at the screenshot. The audience represents your lives - each time you lose one, one of the 'punters' leaves the pictures. Nice touch. The graphics in Chicago 30's are very good, as is the animation and addictiveness, but for my money the games a bit on the easy side. I get the feeling that a lot of you will get to see the final screen far too soon for your moneys worth. Still, it's a nice game to look at. Not bad really. Boing.
In the absence of Ocean's soon-to-appear conversion of The Untouchables, US Gold, ever keen to jump on any passing bandwagons, have released their latest signing from Spanish Spectrum software supremos, Toposoft. Chicago 30's has one real claim to fame. It has a lot of realism and historically accurate features (fnar). Your character is a member of the Untouchables themselves. He wears a herringbone raincoat. He walks along dark and damp docks and alleyways. He drives a VW Beetle. He packs a pistol that caries infinite ammo. There are lots of bad guys hidden in barrels and things. These bad guys shoot at you. And you can't see the bullets.
Set over two sections, the first on foot and the second stage in your car (provided you can get far enough), you have to travel from left to right along a variety of screens, each set in a dark decaying area of 1930's Chicago, the first being a deserted dockyard. As the screen scrolls along, enemies in the form of Mafia thugs appear from all directions. The most popular place to make your debut appearance in a computer game is from the leftand right-hand edges of the screen, and thus they come. Dozens swarm on, all armed, and all willing to blow you away. More appear from inside barrels or from behind doors. Even more pop up from under manholes.
Now, with all those enemies running about, there are going to be a lot of bullets flying, and this is where the game really falls down. The backdrops are very detailed, with a lot of heavy shading. Even though, he said looking at a screen shot, the bullets are the size of footballs, it's very hard to spot them. If logic serves me right, if it's hard to spot them, it's equally hard to avoid them. Mr Unplayable comes to town.
You can fight back with your (t)rusty pistol, and what's more, you can fire in all eight directions, just by pressing fire and moving the joystick in that particular direction. The graphics are decent enough, though the backdrops are far too complicated for their own good. Scrolling is quite good and the animation is 'standard'. As with more and more games of late, it's monochrome too.
Chicago 30's could have been a very good game. As it stands, playability and visual problems aside, it isn't terrible. It just isn't great. Please put the baseball bat away, Mr Capone.
Label: US Gold
Price: £8.99 cass, £12.99 disc
Reviewer: Tony Dillon
US Gold bit the bullet.
Detective Eliot has picked up the scent of illegal alcohol, and the trail leads him from the port, through the city centre to the city outskirts, and to a showdown in the gangsters' warehouse.
The route is fiercely guarded by hordes of hoodlums who appear from behind packing cases, at windows and out of the sewers. They are all intent on stopping the dick dead in his tracks, and so Eliot must run the gauntlet of gunfire and hand-grenade explosions.
To protect himself, Eliot jumps, ducks and fires his Tommy gun, which he can point in five directions, covering himself from attack in front, behind and above.
A brief respite from the assault comes at intervals when Eliot climbs into his customised Chevrolet and powers across town, safe from the hail of bullets. He can still gun down the opposition, though, by sticking his head out of the window Dirty Harry-style.
Not really a bad shoot-em-up, but Chicago 30's is simply lacking in variety. There's little difference in gameplay throughout the four levels, and extended play soon grows tiresome.
Reviewer: Steve Jarratt
Atari ST, £19.99dk, Imminent
Spec, 128 £8.99cs, £12.99dk, Out Now
Amstrad, £9.99cs, £14.99dk, Out Now
C64/128, £9.99cs, £14.99dk, Imminent
No other versions planned
Predicted Interest Curve
1 min: 70/100
1 hour: 75/100
1 day: 60/100
1 week: 50/100
1 month: 35/100
1 year: 5/100
Spectrum 48/128 Cassette: £8.99, Diskette: £12.99
Amstrad CPC Cassette: £9.99, Diskette: £14.99
It's the Thirties. A lone undercover agent driving a sedan armed with a machine gun enters the windy city to close down Al Capone's business. From the port to the city's outskirts and centre, and eventually the liquor warehouse, the good guy is up against Al's mob whose members pop up from manholes or ride black sedans throwing fire bombs.
Smooth parallax horizontal scrolling always looks good on the Spectrum, although the partially monochrome screen masks bullets and traps. Likewise weak sound effects do the game no favours.
Amstrad colour (below) is abundant and luckily the slightly rougher scrolling, failing of many an Amstrad game, is unnoticeable once play gets going. Like the Spectrum game, limited animation causes gangsters to glide along strangely at times.
Like Toposoft's previous Mad Mix, Chicago 30s is a surprisingly simplistic game based on dated ideas. We've seen it many times before and this latest offering adds nothing to the ranks.
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