Hands up anyone who's heard of Darkman. O.K. quite a lot of you. Now hands up who's seen the film. Ah ha! Is that an up-stretched arm I see at the back or is it Garth doing his Statue of Liberty party piece?
Darkman, the film, didn't do particularly well when ferried across to these shores so Ocean must be hoping that the game fares considerably better. To all intents and purposes there is no reason it shouldn't as it's plot is as intriguing as the contents of a Scotsman's sporran! (Sellina Scott's underpants is what I want to put but Garth'll only edit it!) (Damn right! - Ed)
Taking the shrivelled form of Poyton Westlake, master of plastic surgery and disguise, who has been horribly disfigured in on acid bath by mobster Robert Durant, you wreak your revenge on the scum of the city as the Darkman.
The game follows the film very closely and incorporated into the six levels of platform beat 'em up action are a horizontally scrolling street fight in Chinatown, a race across the roof tops whilst being pursued by helicopter, a platform beat 'em up set in your booby trapped laboratory as you race to get out, and the final scene set in a skyscraper where you must rescue your girlfriend from the evil master villain Strack and throw him off of the building.
Well with all this off the wall mayhem you're gunna need a man tougher than Arnold Schwarzenegger's underpants and unfortunately our dark chum is not up to the job. Now I can understand that he's a bit weak, he's been through a lot, but he's about as useful as a cat flap in an elephant house when the brown stuff hits the fan!
You only get one life which is represented by a green and yellow strip at the bottom of the screen which allows you to get hit about 27 times before you die. I know that that's three times more points than your average cat, but unluckily for us old Poyton's as agile as a one footed centipede with athlete's foot! Not much good against a pack of acrobatic blood thirsty Ninjas, gun toting thugians, mad Pitbull's and flying rocks and that just the first level!
The graphics in Darkman however, are very good. The first foe you meet slumps to the ground once you've defeated them and although the usual colour clash problems exist, you can easily see what's going down. The various sound tracks and effects are also great and if you get bored playing you can sit back and enjoy at least two tunes whilst you have a cuppa. Backdrops are excellent and have that Double Dragon look to them.
Along with each level there's a specific mission. On the first, for example, you hear of a drug drop and must steal the money to finance yourself, in the Freeway section Westlake leaps out of an exploding warehouse and grabs a rope attached to Durant's swooping chopper. He lowers you into the traffic where you must swing out of the path of trucks and avoid grenades.
As usual Ocean have produced another high quality game. They haven't skimped on production and whereas gameplay is lacking, quality abounds. Darkman is far from being a white elephant and warrants attention, but the balance between being too easy and a pig to finish has not been found.
Price: £10.99 Tape, £13.99 Disk
Reviewer: Steve Keen
GARTH: Another game bites the dust due to the main sprites meagre pain threshold. Only those of you with the desire for a beat 'em up that will last for years will need apply for this particular game.
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