his is disgusting. Appalling. Shameful. This is irresponsible, degrading, vicious, untenable, vile, gross, rotten, dismal and thoroughly despicable.
No matter how much I think about it, no matter how much I try, no matter how much considered brain-working combined with finely honed judgement I put into it, there is no way in which I can rescue the civilian from his cage in one of the scenarios of this massive game in time for this review to go to press.
Believe me, I pleaded with AF’s editor to tell the printers to hold their multi-thousand-pound presses for just a few days longer. I lied about having the flu’, the plague, the pox, Delthi-Belly, Montezuma’s revenge and scabies in order to get a few more days – no a few more hours – to play this damnable computer entertainment. But there was just no way.
Hold on a second, I have just thought of another devious strategy to get the little sprite from his jail. Nip up a few pages to the Hired Guns review and come back in a minute. Nope, that did not work either. But that is the kind of hold that Cannon Fodder can have on you if you do not watch out. There you are doing something important when "Whammo!" an idea leaps into your by now fried mind as to how to complete one section from one mission. Bye-bye day. Bye-bye really important thing… hello games mania.
Because, if there is one thing that Cannon Fodder has in spades, it is addictability. And if there are two things it has then they are addictability and killer playability.
Like Lemmings or Syndicate, it discovers a tiny piece of your cerebellum that is most prone to fun, self-sacrifice, problem solving and extreme violence and, I will say it again: "Whammo!" you are nabbed.
Ready for real war?
Cannon Fodder does not much around when it comes to violence. Where many other pieces of computer leisure-wre )the term ‘comptuer game’ is rapidly going out of fashion in this industry) emulate films such as Lethal Weapons, Universal Soldier or Under Siege in their sanitised, sentimentalist, feel-good portrayals of violence, Cannon Fodder goes for the Reservoir Dogs approach. You are shot. You bleed. You cry out loudly in a most embarrassing and un-TV-like manner. You can take a hell of a long time to stop living. Then, in time of war, you tend to get left where you lie, probably forgotten for a while until the furore is done with. Then maybe forgotten for ever.
For the purposes of this game, you and your mouse fingers are in control of a number of recruits. Their mission (whether or not they agree to accept it) is to go into various battle situations and sort out the enemy. This ‘sorting out’ process involves destroying buildings, expunging the opposition, rescuing occasionally unwilling civilians, and surviving intact.
But enough of this ironic stuff. This is a game review here, and the powers-that-be do not want all this heavy stuff. What is the gameplay like? Bloody brilliant mate! That is what. Easy. Too right it is easy. for a start, it is mouse driven, so even if you have never considered buying a joystick, you can still play it. Right button to walk. Left button to fire. Right and left to throw something that goes boom.
There is a map at the lower left of the screen to give you some handle on where you are and what you have got to do – it also pauses the game, tipsters. Then there are the scenarios. As Sensible Supremo Jon Hare admits, the graphics are utilitarian. They do their job very well indeed, setting atmosphere and (thank goodness) using up most of the screen. Your little guys (and lasses, who can tell what sex they are?) bear a striking resemblance to the Auxerre side from Sensible Soccer out on a severe training run. They are tiny, cute and highly motivated (what?!) and they are very dangerous when used properly.
The missions are many and varied. As I mentioned, in order to accrue more rank for your grunts, they have to complete missions – but these missions are more often than not split into several sub-sections. Each of these is a drain on your abilities, so when you do actually complete one of the later of middle missions, not only have your troops improved, but you have also come away a better player. OK, so your nerves will be shattered and you will have had very little sleep for quite a while, your mouse hand will be twitching in a deeply worrying manner, and you wil probably be giggling under your breath, or whispering: "Eat that!" or "Die pig!" or "Go on Tubby, chuck the grenade!", but you will have finished a mission.
Can you keep in control?
Amiga Format, Issue 54, Christmas 1993, p.p.78-80
"You will have had very little sleep for quite a while, your mouse hand will be twitching in a deeply worrying manner, and you wil probably be giggling under your breath"
|Trotz ihres so friedlich klingenden Namens haben die Söldner von Sensible Software nun ein Spiel vorgelegt, dessen grimmigen Metzger-Humor wohl nur Briten lustig finden – das Gameplay gefiel allerdings auch uns!|
Stellt Euch am besten eine Mischung aus Metzelorgien wie "Airborne Ranger" oder "Special Forces" auf der einen und Strategicals mit indirekter Steuerung à la "Populous" auf der anderen Seite vor. Sowohl die leicht schräg von oben gezeigten, tadellos scrollenden Landschaften als auch die per Maus erfolgende Befehlsvergabe lassen Erinnerungen an die aufgezählten Games und dazu vielleicht noch "Mega Lo Mania" wach werden.
Von der Sache her schickt man bis zu sechs Soldaten Richtung Feind, wobei mit dem linken Mausohr gelenkt wird, das rechte zum Ballern da ist und beide zusammen eine Granate auflösen – darüber hinaus befinden sich am Screenrand noch Icons, die z.B. eine Übersichtskarte auf den Schirm holen. Je nachdem, in welcher der 24, wiederum in 72 Unterabschnitte eingeteilten Missionen man sich gerade befindet, muß man sämtliche Gegner abmurksen, alle feindlichen Gebäude vernichten, einen Hinterhalt anlegen oder eine Geisel nehmen bzw. befreien. Um die hervorragend ausgerüsteten und von Auftrag zu Auftrag immer unangenehmer werdenden Gegnern Paroli bieten zu können, findet man allereli nützliche Dinge wie etwa herrenlose Panzer, Hubschrauber oder Munitionskisten; später auch kugelsichere Westen.
Es gilt jedoch immer zu beachten, daß Realismus hier groß geschrieben wird. Versehentlich beschossene Extra-Munition explodiert, beim Durchschwimmen eines Flusses kann man nicht ballern, und wer Schlammlöcher übersieht oder beim Anschleichen an den Feind nicht auf seine Deckung achtet, ist selbst dran schuld, wenn ihm irgendwann die nur beschränkt vorrätigen Kämpfer ausgehen. Natürlich winken dem wahren Kriegshelden Beförderungen, auch darf man seinen Trupp in mehrere Untergrüppchen aufteilen – wesentlich strategischer wird das stark actionsbetonte Spiel damit aber nicht, die taktischen Elemente bewegen sich ungefähr auf "Dune II"-Niveau.
An der intuitiv beherrschbaren Steuerung gibt's nun überhaupt nichts zu meckern, die dramatische Soundbegleitung und die abwechslungsreiche, gut animierte und sehr übersichtliche Grafik können ebenfalls überzeugen. Wesentlich heikler sieht's da schon in der Abteilung Moral & Geschmacksfragen aus, denn Blutfontänen und herumliegende Soldaten mit aufgeschlitzten Bäuchen gehören hier zum kriegerischen Alltag. Dazu sind nicht alle Gags so harmlos wie die gelegentlich unvermutet am Schlachtfeld auftauchenden Eskimos oder Schneemänner: Die Toten auf beiden Seiten werden in der Manier von Fußballergebnissen aufgelistet, und im Intro singt der "sensible" Mitautor Jon Hare "Krieg hat noch nie solchen Spaß gemacht"!
Wer indessen mit einer Überdosis pechschwarzen Humor leben kann, sollte sich das spielerisch wertvolle Kanonenfutter eiligst besorgen – die BPS findet sowas ja meist gar nicht lange lustig... (mm)
Amiga Joker, December 1993, p.?
The game of the year? War, it seems, has never been so much fun.
kay, so we've got this game slapped across our cover, it took up an entire coverdisk last issue and we've all been enthralled by Jools' imaginative and innovative use of basic Anglo-Saxon expletives as we've begged and hassled him to write his long running Diary Of A Game feature. Quite a lot of coverage for a single game, but after spending a worryingly large amount of my time playing Cannon Fodder, I'd say that anything up to and including changing the name of this mag to Cannon Fodder Power would be a justified amount of coverage.
It's fast, it's thoughtful, it's addictive and it's the kind of game that I can see I'm going to be playing through the night like a real saddo. So why don't you join me, and journey through the next few pages as I explain to you why playing this game is now more important to me than eating, sleeping or any other basic bodily function.
Having to write pages of reviews every month, I'm always on the lookout for something concise and snappy that'll end up in the blob on the page (Which is the 'Call Out', technical term fans. - Ed) but those Sensible boys have done my job for me. "War's never been so much fun," they tell me, and when you load up the game, you get a pretty groovetastic song that drums the same message home. It's about two minutes long, is reminiscent of an early UB4O track and sets the tongue-in-cheek, boot-in-mouth tone of the game brilliantly. As the song runs, you're treated to pictures taken from the pop video in which the Sensible team dress up as soldiers, run around with plastic guns and pose against a WW2 halftrack. It's all very much in the vein of Oh What A Lovely War, or perhaps the fourth series of Blackadder, and serves as a bit of an antidote to the serious theme.
So boring game details next. The game is made up of 23 missions which are spread over 72 different maps. There are five different terrains - Jungle, Desert, Arctic, Heathland and Underground Base, and although they're fairly well mixed up, there's a definite weighting towards jungle levels at the beginning and underground levels at the end. Oh yeah, the game comes on just three disks, with the last half of the missions coming on disk three. Since it recognises a second disk drive this means virtually no disk swapping while you're playing. Hoorah!
So why buy this game then? Well, for a start it's massively simple to get into. You start of the game with a squad of men, and at the end of every mission, you get a further 15 recruits, which initially seems a tad excessive. However, by the time you get to Mission Six and your boys are being slaughtered like cattle at every twist and turn, you start to realise why you get so many troops. Every time a soldier survives a mission, he's promoted, and his accuracy, range and rate of fire is increased. You get quite attached to anyone who survives more than a couple of levels, but since everyone in the game has an equally tenuous grip on life, there's inevitably a horrible moment when a rocket with his name on it comes whooshing in and he gets his. The promotion system means that you can end up with a crack team, but it also means that you get terribly paranoid and ever so careful with your men.
You control your boys with the mouse, and click on the left button to move, the right to fire and both to throw a grenade or fire a rocket, depending on what you've selected. You can easily split the band up into sub-groups, which opens up all sort of possibilities. The soldiers can't swim and shoot at the same time, so by sending them over rivers two at a time, you can provide supporting fire from the bank. You can even click a preset course for one group while you control another, which allows you to attack from two directions at the same time. Not only is this easy to work out, but it's so simple that you can do it quickly, which is essential if you want to split the team or switch to rockets when you're under fire from tanks and helicopters and all manner of nastiness. The scrolling system works so well that most of the time you're not even aware of it. To look in any direction, all you have to do is move the mouse near the edge and you push the screen, just like you'd imagine it would. If anyone made a dictionary of computer game words, then the listing for 'intuitive' would be "Just play Cannon Fodder and you'll know. Okay?"
Still not convinced yet? Well, the missions involve lots and lots of killing, with the occasional spot of hostage rescue thrown in before masses more killing. Strictly speaking, the missions break down to killing everyone, blowing up all the buildings, rescuing prisoners, taking hostages and protecting civilians, but it all involves killing so many people it isn't even funny anymore.
Complete carnage doesn't impress you? How about four channels of sound that completely immerse you in each world? How about authentic jungle noises with parrot squawks, or the howl of a freezing wind blowing across the broken ice floes? How about sound that reflects what you're looking at on the screen and that fades realistically with distance, making it an essential gameplay feature? What do I mean? Well, if you come out of the jungle (squawks, rustling, etc) and get to a river (running water) but hear distant rotors (whump, whump, whump), then you know there's a helicopter near, and that it's time to hide. Muted gunfire tells you that enemy soldiers can see you and are heading your way, and the flop-sweat fear of hearing a rumbling tank engine has to be experienced to be fully understood. And if that doesn't get you, then stirringly patriotic WW1 jingles as you complete each mission or a Jimi Hendrix-esque rendition of the last post as you remember your dead are sure to knock your ear-socks off.
Thinking that it sounds like 72 maps of pretty much the same thing? Wrong! Although you start off the game with a fairly simple run-around-and-shoot-everything approach, you quickly cotton onto the fact that this tactic only works for the first few levels, and that a bit more finesse is required for later levels. By the time you get to Mission Seven, many of the levels are puzzles in the Lemmings mould, and successfully completing the level depends as much on you planning ahead as it does on your reactions. How exactly do you get past the helicopter, evade the gun turrets, blow up the bunkers and then blast down the stockade wall so that a civilian can escape to his house? Well, take it from me, it's hugely difficult and involves a tank.
Yes, tanks! And skidoos and jeeps and helicopters firing heat-seeking missiles. Whatever fearsome vehicles the bad guys have got, then at some point in the game you get to drive them as well. Many of them haven't got a weapon, but that's no problem as you can just drive over people, and whenever you find a ramp, then rest assured there's lots of Dukes Of Hazzard tomfoolery to be had.
Hey, I just mentioned civilians, which are another feature to keep you guessing. There are cute little eskimos in the arctic, natives in the jungle and even moseying gunslingers in the desert, but you never know how they're going to react. Some of them are neutral and just wander around, some of them are hostile (in which case they deserve everything they get) but a lot of them are reactive, so if you kill any of them, they'll open up on you.
You want more before you buy this game? Blimey, how much? Okay, how about hyper-intelligent baddies in helicopters who'll trash you in the open, but can be evaded by hiding in the treeline or holes? How about a completely interactive terrain, so your troops bounce over every bump, slide across every ice floe, fall down every cliff and even sink in the swamps? It's another incredible game feature, since you can blow down fences with grenades and destroy huts with explosives, but you've got to look out for bits of debris as they fly off in all directions. You've also got to keep a look out for suspicious lumps in the ground as many of the levels are littered with lethal booby traps of all descriptions.
And you want blood? Good, 'cos Cannon Fodder's got masses of it, with each little guy blowing apart in a hail of gunfire, or lying around moaning and squirting after a spring-loaded spear has shot out of the ground and impaled him. And then there's the... Oh, just go and buy the flipping thing.
So you've waded through four pages of top-quality pictures and masses of praise for this game, and no doubt you'll have noticed that there's something missing - criticism. The simple reason for this is that I can't find anything wrong with the game. "In which case," smart arses out there are going to say to me, "why haven't you given it 100% then?" Right, here are a few reasons why:
Amiga Power, Issue 32, December 1993, p.p.32-35
"Oh, just go and buy the flipping thing."
'War has never been so much fun' or so the song goes. Jon Sloan dons fatigues to join the chorus of Virgin's latest bloodfest.
cannot camouflage my feelings about this game. I have just got to shoot my mouth off. Cannon Fodder is the best thing since gun powder. It is bloody brilliant. It is better than sex. But that is enough adulation (And bad war puns – Ed.) for now. So, what is it about? Simply put: shooting, shooting, shooting, more shooting and, just for a change, a few explosions. That is it. No fancy storylines. No deep and meaningful scenarios. Just grab a handful of recruits, drop them in a war zone and then blast everything in sight.
Speaking of controls, even a complete mouse-a-phobic could get to grips with these. Just point the mouse where you want to go, left click and off the men will trot. Right click and they will shoot at that point. Bullets are unlimited but there is also a fixed amount of secondary weapons. Firing them is easy too. Right click on the target and then left click at the same time to release one. It is tempting to let rip all your weapons early on, but that would be a waste. And some missions need you to carefully control your resources.
For instance, one objective could be that you have to blow up all the enemy's huts. This is not possible with bullets alone.
CU Amiga, January 1994, p.p.86-87
Amiga version: 94%, AP32.
No new levels, no extra sound and no gratuitous but pointless in-game music in this CD32 conversion, and it does not make the slightest bit of difference. It is Cannon Fodder, and so it is brill. For your money you do get a flashy intro sequence starring the Sensible crew and the option to play it using the CD32 controller, although to get into the full flow of the game, you really do need to get yourself a mouse. Shoot, bang, kill, run, swim, bomb, fly, rocket, spike, bleed, maim, drive, die, fall, slide, panic and bodge your way through 72 levels packed with moral disregard and political incorrectness.
Amiga Power, Issue 40, August 1994, p.81