Sim Crime hits the Amiga and political correctness is thrown out the window. 'Ronnie' Dillon learns that crime doesn't pay, even if you are wearing a duffel coat.
Burglary is a very complicated thing, far more so than you would expect. It isn't just a case of smashing a window, running around turning furniture over and grabbing whatever you can. There's a huge amount of planning involved, as I once discovered in a newsagent somewhere in Islington. Don't worry, though, it was a long time ago. To give you some idea of how long ago it was, I had unbuttoned the middle fastener on my duffel coat, and was using the opening to stuff as many rubber dinosaurs inside as possible. Needless to say I was deservedly caught the moment I tried to leave, but that's another story altogether.
In The Clue, you are a poor traveler with certain skills, who has managed to find their way to London in the 1950s. You already know that one of the best ways to get rich quick is through crime, and London of the 50s is a good place as any to start indulging in a little burglary. From this modest starting point you have to collect your fortune, from ripping off small corner shops and newspaper kiosks to robbing the Bank of England, the grave of Karl Marx and eventually going for the big one – the Crown Jewels themselves. OK, so that might seem a little adventurous for an inexperienced thief with no money and no possessions, but then aren't challenges the things that games are made of?
So you start in Victoria Station, with only a little cash and no idea where to go. On entering a cab, you are told that you are the one millionth customer of the company, and are issued with a pass for free cab journeys for a whole year. Then you are dumped in Holland Street and left to your own devices. On the corner stands a strange looking South American, smoking a cigarette and looking your way, You walk over and talk to him, and find out that his specialty is as a lookout man, and should you ever have any work to push his way, he's happy to accept. With your head spinning, you walk into a local bar, where you find three more unusual types, including an attracting young housewife who is bored with her humdrum life, fancies something a little more exciting, and has a better than average knowledge of cars. You've done it, you've already been introduced to the fringes of the London criminal underworld.
Popping across the road, you book in the Ugley Dog Hotel. Realising you have no money, you give a fake address at reception, and are shown to your room, which you know is to be your base of operations for the entirety of the game. Here you can plan your robberies, call any accomplices you may need to contact and, of course, stash the loot. On entering the room, however, you receive a phone call. A friend of a friend has a job for you, and wants to meet you in the pub across the road in fifteen minutes. You walk over and meet him and he tells you about a kiosk he wants to hit That's it – you're on your way!
Sound exciting? It really is that good, and it just gets better and better. The Clue is more than your average adventure game, taking a very interesting plot, and then spicing it up with loads of humour and some real intensity. After spending a couple of days staking out an old people's home, another couple of days finding the right group of people to join you, and then another day working out the plan itself, right down to who is in what position at any given moment, you end up on the edge of your seat watching the robbery unfold, and then fall off your seat as you watch the police investigation into the robbery, where you find out just how careless you may have been in any of the stages.
It's a very easy game to play, as you will have found out if you've played our exclusive coverdisk this issue. A row of commands at the bottom of the screen show you exactly what you can do at any given time, and an interactive and dynamic database shows you everything you've seen and heard so far. Although you start with nothing, in no time at all you have a wealth of information to work with, from building layouts and notes on the times when the police are likely to be around to full character profiles and access to the personal thoughts of the character you are playing.
The game looks fantastic, as you can see from these screenshots. Coming from Austria, the game doesn't paint an accurate picture of London, but more a stylised image which fits the rest of the game perfectly. That said, you will still recognise most of the major landmarks enough for their to be a real atmosphere to the game, and that's what will really keep you playing.
In a way, The Clue is a simulation of being a master criminal. I know that sounds like a strange idea, but it's one that is so original that you just can't help getting sucked into the game. As an adventure, it throws a lot more at you than just mere puzzle solving. It can all seem a little daunting at first, but once you learn the game systems, it becomes an extremely involving and enjoyable experience.
CU Amiga, September 1994, p.p.76-77