Author: Paul Owens
Reviewer: Jim Douglas
Deep in an uncharted tropical jungle somewhere on Earth, a secret war is racing beneath the creepers. The might of an alien force, currently at work on a fiendish plan to lake over the world, is being fought by one man - Lance Gryzor.
Okay, so plot wise we're not talking James Joyce, but when you've got a game so full of high speed frenetic action, who gives a damn?
Armed with a big rifle of varying specifications (more on that later), a pair of camouflage troulies and a vest top, Lance - bit of a nancy boy name; no wonder he's used to being ganged up on - must battle his way through untold levels of unspeakably dastardly aliens.
His goal is the enormous Atmosphere Processing Plant which the aliens are constructing. Once it's finished, they'll be able to affect the weather conditions all over the world, and take power. So you've got to destroy that plant. And everything that gets in your way en route, naturally.
Gryzor like many of the more recent Ocean releases - is a multi-load. It's not surprising when you bear in mind that there are about three totally different stages to the game, each highly complicated code wise.
The first style of section you'll run into is the right left scrolling shoot out. Here, you get to run along across the landscape (jungle/ice/ducting depending on how far into the game you get) shooting at the soldiers, gun emplacements and trucks which all appear with alarming frequency. The first thing you'll notice is the smoothness of the scrolling, certainly the smoothest I've seen. It was developed using some of the techniques used in Cobra, and the two games are similar in some respects. The graphics in these sections are a little simplified. The backgrounds aren't terribly detailed and the characters have a fairly limited amount of, er, character.
This is easily explained by the scrolling technique. You can only have a fairly small number of different graphics on the screen at any one time. While you don't really have much chance to look around at the scenery - it would have been nice to have a little more detail - but I guess that's the price to pay for better gameplay.
In this first section the action is fast and furious, the aliens come on to the screen in gangs, and you'll often have to fire in various directions (you can fire up and diagonally, as well as left and right) as they run toward you along elevated walkways. Gun emplacements can be vigorously blown up to get hold of the better weapons held inside. The four types of gun you can choose allow you normal, rapid, tri-directional and circular fire. It's quite important that you learn which weapon will come from which emplacement, in order to equip yourself with the right gear for the next level.
After you make your way to the entrance of the plant, the screen changes completely, and you'll be presented with a head-on view of a maze. In the top section of the screen a plan is presented You've got to work your way down the tunnels. At the back of each room in the maze is a security installation from which bullets and explosive barrels appear. Troops will attack you as well, and you'll have to move around a great deal just to stay alive. The graphics in this area are more exciting than those before and it's only when you reach this stage that you realise Gryzor has a little more depth than many coin-ops at the moment.
Also presented in the same smart fashion are the static screens which are further into the game. Here you have to face similar problems to those in the maze. But the target on these screens is tougher, and you don't go rushing off to fight in a different place. In the maze, you have to deal with five or six rooms at a time.
In between some sections you'll encounter a large - and very well animated - robot monster who will throw cybernetic discs at you. This guy, like the trucks and rocket bases will take more than one shot to destroy. So you'll have to get yourself into a safe place and keep plugging away.
The next section comes nearer to the end of the game. Here the screen scrolls vertically - like in the coin-op - and you have to somersault across from one elevating platform to another, shooting like crazy all the way. The graphics here are the best in the game, and the feeling of similarity to the original is very strong indeed.
The final section involves going deeper into the piping areas mentioned earlier and confronting the heart of the complex...
Graphically, Gryzor on computer couldn't really be expected to match the original. But it's still better than most games around at the moment. Gameplay wise, however, it stands up very well. It's fast, well-animated and exciting. The multi-load is an irritant, but one that is compensated for by the quality of the game as a whole. Buy it.
When you've just had your planet invaded and there's nothing you can do about it because of a bad cold, the risk of missing an episode of Home and Away, or a pressing dinner engagement at McDonalds, there's only one person you know you can turn to; Lance Gryzor, just about the toughest soldier the world has seen since John Wayne turned Vietnam into the wild west in "The Green Berets".
Like all real tough guys Gryzor is known only by his surname and anyone calling him anything else gets a Fifty Caliber salvo for their trouble. This is apparently what the invading alien Durrs have done, apart from threatening the entire eco-system of the planet by assembling an Atmosphere Processing Plant to control the weather, and Gryz's angrier than a pitbull terrier with a tick on it's bum and just rootin' for a fight.
To defeat these dastardly Durrs Gryzor must fight his way through five levels of combat hell armed with a vicious looking ping pong gun. Those not keen on table top sports will be delighted to know that this weapon can be upgraded by knocking off the various weapons installations you come across during the skirmish. The first level is horizontal scrolling and is challenging from the start. Duck and dive like Frank Bruno 'cos those enemy soldiers are fast and accurate, 'Arry. Don't be afraid of the water if things are getting tough because Lance is a good swimmer and life is a lot cooler down there.
The second and fourth levels consist of 3D Mazes and the object is to blast at anything that moves or looks remotely out of place. In both Mazes you must find the entrance to the next level and blow it and it guards away. There aren't as many obvious aliens to destroy as in the 2D sections but there are plenty of targets. The vertical scrolling platform third level is dangerous stuff, moving upwards, keeping your gun locked and loaded, with plenty of aliens to make Gryzor's life miserable. The fifth and final level pits poor exhausted Gryzor against the powerful alien defenses and the tough Alien central control. The Heart.
Gameplay is pretty good, firing in all directions can be rather comical because control is a little loose, but this is better than no response at all. Gryzor is very agile, shooting, jumping and crouching quickly, though turning is a little slow. Soldiers are easy to kill, larger aliens are not, the big G himself is also killed easily but has plenty of back up lives and there is an option to continue. Graphics on the horizontal and vertical scrolling screens are quite colourful and backgrounds are filled in, the characters are a little faceless though. The 3D screens are more sparsely populated but the required effect is created.
Gryzor is not a game for wimps, though I think that serious toughies may find him a bit of a matchstick man underneath his khaki Crocodile Dundee exterior. It is however a game that will entice you to see the mission through, and it does have variety of game scenarios to titillate and mutilate.
Label: Hit Squad
Price: £2.99 Tape, N/A Disk
Reviewer: Alan Dykes
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