£9.99 cass/£14.99 disk
Reviewer: Matt Bielby
Chase HQ - it's crap! Absolutely the worst so-called driving game I've ever seen!! Ho ho ho. Like my little joke, eh, readers? Not said with much conviction, was it? That's probably because it wasn't really very true.
Nope, Chase HO isn't crap. In fact, it's one of the best driving games I've ever seen and it'd be a perfectly sound thing to spend your money on. Ho hum. It's getting really boring writing good reviews of every Ocean game that comes out, but, well, the truth's the truth I suppose. And, it has to be said, Chase HQ is an absolute corker of a game.
How shall we play this? I know, you can be Algernon (the passenger) and I'll be, um, 'Mr Driver' (as in the famous Chase HQ phrase, "Let's go, Mr Driver!"). Okay? in other words, I get to do all the good bits (like driving at three squillion miles an hour through the middle of a city at rush hour, taking 'short cuts' up unfinished roads and ramming into the back of other cars) and you can do all the crap bits (like sitting in the passenger seat, sticking the light on top of the car an, um, that's it). Seems fair? Great! Then buckle up and let's vrooooom!
Actually, hang on, I'd better give you a quick outline of the plot first! in fact, it's more than likely you already know it, but, for the few latecomers, it involves rushing around a big American city Miami Vice-style in a turbo-charged Porsche 928, bagging as may perps as you can along the way. You do this by ramming your car into the back of theirs until they're forced to stop, catching up and hitting them by nifty driving, and the judicious use of a limited number of turbo boosts to out-accelerate them whenever it counts. Unfortunately, this town seems to breed an affluent sort of criminal (they all drive mega-speedy exoticars and every second commuter has a Countach if the car sprites are to believed!) so they take a fair amount of catching!
Yes indeed, a pretty simple but perfectly serviceable plot, very playable in the first place but made close to perfect by faultless execution. I suppose the first question you always ask or a racing game is "Does it give a good impression of speed?", and the answer here is an emphatic 'Yes. It does". The rolling road is very fast and smooth, the cars are all nicely drawn and animated, and there are clever programming tricks all over the place. Take the smooth way the road splits in two, allowing you to take either path, then compare it with the bodge job in OutRun in which they split the road by placing a row of potted plants down the centre lane(!), and you'll see what I mean.
This isn't the only neat touch though, oh dear me no. There's a very nice tunnel sequence, which doesn't slow the action down one jot, some lovely neat dips and rises which bounce your car up off the road, and little additional touches, like the flashing light appearing on the roof of the car as you approach your perp, which really add finesse to the game.
In fact, as far as presentation goes this has to be not only one of the best driving sims but one of the best coin-op conversions I've seen. Just about everything of any importance from the arcade machine has been kept in, from the animated logo to the neat little pictures of Nancy from Chase HQ and your good selves appearing along the top panel. Couple this with the constant stream of messages displayed at the top of the screen (saying where the next car will be or simply telling you to buck your ideas up) and you'll find there's a lot going on that can only really be appreciated if you're watching someone else play the game. Of course, as driver you'll be far too busy trying to stay on the road (so amazingly enough Algernon doesn't really get such a crap job after all).
Programming skills and care of presentation aside, one other thing gives it the edge over most other arcade driving games - there's simply much more to do. Instead of just racing against the clock you've got an actual purpose in mind (catching the criminals) which adds tremendously to the proceedings.
And finally, there's the sound. I hardly ever remember to mention sound (on most Speccy games it's hardly worth it) but in Chase HQ you can hardly miss it. It's great! There's some very good digitised speech (like "Geddee up!" and "Let's go, Mr Driver!"), nice police siren noises, and lovely touches like the note changing when you go into the tunnel sequences on 128K. And even on 48K there's a good tune!
I could carp I suppose. You don't seem to get the nice spin you do in the arcade game, the controls are a bit hard to use with pinpoint accuracy (in fact, it's harder than the coin-op, but then so is driving a real car) and it takes an age to load, but none of those are really faults.
All in all, the game's an out-'n-out winner. As playable as Operation Thunderbolt is, as fun as Power Drift can be and as impressive as Hard Drivin' turned out to be, we're looking at Number One here. No question. It's a bloomin' miracle!
In an effort not to appear Dutch, we've got hold of the brightest reviewers and the newest games. And it's all for you!
The Hit Squad
Reviewer: Rich Pelley
YS Megagame. Crash Smash, Sinclair User Classic. C+ VG Hit, Games Machine Star Player. What Toaster? Best Buy. Goat Breeders' Gazette Recommended Purchase... need I go on? Chase HQ was a confirmed classic when it first packed its bags and made its lonesome journey from coin-up to computer conversion back in 1989. Luckily, it was at least one and three quarters times as good on the Spectrum than on anything else. The super-fast and smooth graphics (minus colour), the sound (yes, sound, including digitised speech), the playability, the addictiveness. All this, and practically everything else in the coin-up seemed to have been miraculously squeezed into rubber keyed chum, just going to show the Spectrum is by no means on its last legs. (Which is quite ironic because the legs fell off my Speccy years ago.) I'm beating rather annoyingly around the bush again, but I hardly know where to start - even though I've almost finished the review.
The game is a straight race-'em-up where you have to catch up with a baddy and then ram him off the road, all within a time limit. This makes a great change from boringly racing against the clock; and there are loads of great touches, such as jumps in the road, tunnels to drive through, splits in the road and a great intro .... sequence. Oooh. Wibble. Sorry - but I just couldn't the control my excitement any longer. I'm just going to have to make Chase HQ a Mega-game again.
THE COMPLETE YS GUIDE TO DRIVING GAMES
It's strange but true - normally courteous YS readers tend to turn into homicidal maniacs once they get behind the wheel of a Spectrum. We sent JONATHAN DAVIES, who still hasn't managed to get that wretched helmet off, to find out why.
It's an expensive business, driving. Not only do you have to hand out piles of dosh to actually get a car, but there are loads of 'hidden costs' thrown into the bargain' too. For a start, you've got to get it insured (in case you crash), which means serious sponds for your average Spectrum owner Then there's road tax, servicing, MOTs, petrol, all sorts of things. And, if you want to keep up with the latest fashions, you'll want to purchase a few 'extras' as well, ranging from simple '-TURBO-' stickers for the back window to alloys, buckets and twin cams. And they all mean spending lots and lots of money.
So wouldn't it be nice if you could get your Spectrum to sort of 'pretend' was a car, allowing you to zoom about to your heart's content for minimal outlay instead? Well, actually you can! Yes, all you need to do is buy a suitable driving game, load it up and you've got yourself a set of wheels.
It'll be almost exactly the same as driving a real car except that you can crash as much as you like without having to worry about your no-claims bonus. And you'll be able to choose from all the latest posh sports cars like Porsches, Ferraris and Lotuses and drive them as far and as fast as you like without having to splash out on a drop of petrol! (In fact, because driving games are so much cheaper and more practical than real cars, it is predicted that by the year 2012 the motorcar will have become obsolete, replaced by the driving game.) The only trouble with all this is that it's a bit hard to pick up birds with a 48K Spectrum.
JUST WHAT, EXACTLY, IS A DRIVING GAME?
Mmm, knew we'd have to get round to this sometime. Well, I've had a think and come up with the following spec...
- It's got to have either a car, a motorbike or a lorry in it.
- That means no bicycles, boats, jet-skis, tanks or anything like that.
- And no skateboards either. They're crap.
Seems simple enough. It means we're including Grand Prix-type games (where you just race against other cars) and shooting ones (where you zap them) but not similar-looking ones that don't have cars, bikes or lorries in (like boat ones). Okay? Phew. I never thought it would be quite so easy.
SO HOW ABOUT THINGS LIKE ARMY MOVES?
Oh cripes. Look, just shurrup. will you, whoever you are. No, Army Moves is out, I'm afraid. It's rubbish anyway.
So let's take a look at a few examples, eh? It's worth noting that, where driving games are concerned, the ratio of crap ones to good ones is a lot higher than with other types of game (apart from football games, of course). So you can't be too careful.
The YS Ratings System? You don't want that old thing. No sir, over here we have the brand-new top-of-the-range 1990 model. It's turbo-charged, fuel-injected, 16-valve, super-cooled and has a full X-pack (with droop snoot). And spots. You'll be doing yourself a favour.
It's no good having a driving game that seems to be simulating an FSO or something. You want real power, a feeling of being at one with the road and all that sort of thing. Control responses, speed etc are all taken into account here.
Assuming you remember to clean all the dead leaves and bird turds off the windscreen before you set out, what's the view like? A thinly-veiled graphics category, in other words, but jolly important all the same.
It may seem to have everything, but once you've set off, and you've been on the road for a while, do you relish every second that you're behind the wheel? Or do you want to keep stopping at the services? Or perhaps you'd rather just take the bus instead, eh?
A competitive edge is most important where driving's concerned, both in real life and on the Speccy. So do the other cars put up a decent fight, or do they just seem to be part of the scenery (if, indeed, there is any)?
Crikey, this ones good. On the face of it it's just another looking-at it-from-behind game, and a blatant attempt to knock OutRun off its rather wobbly perch. In actual fact though, it's a conversion of a fab coin-op and rates as one of the best driving games on the Speccy. Actually, it probably is the best. What you've got to do, you see, is pursue various criminals around in your car. Having caught up with them you get a neat animated sequence where your co-driver leans out of the window and sticks on the flashing light, and then it's time to run the other guy off the road by bashing into him.
So why's it so good? Well, the main thing is that it's been properly programmed - speed and playability haven't been sacrificed for the sake of the graphics (which are really rather good). And, um, that's about it. It's just very, very good. Do get yourself a copy.
WHAT A BARG!
Summertime, summertime, summer, summer, summertime! Hurrah - summer is here! And what better way to celebrate the advent of sunny, carefree days than by locking yourself in your bedroom and playing a load of Speccy games? With the seemingly unstoppable spread of budget software, we here at YS thought it would be quite a wheeze to sort out the brass from the dross. So take your seats and upset your neighbour's popcorn as JON PILLAR whisks you with shameless bias through a roundup of the best £3.99ers around.
5. Chase HQ
Hit Squad/Issue 73
Reviewer: Jon Pillar
A staggeringly flashy racer, with graphics and a thumping 128K soundtrack. It was amazingly popular, mostly due to your being able to ram the bad guys off the road. To be honest, it's more a well-programmed idea than a game, but one that's worth a look all the same.
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