Guns, knives and all round nastiness in

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INFOGRAMES * £25.99 * 1/2 meg * Joystick * Out now

Somebody in this game hasn't quite got the right idea. Your average law breaker tends to steer clear of prisons in general. Criminals and prison cells. It's a bad combination.
But our Mr Big Baddie in this game has seen fit to break into a prison. Not out of prison like any normal, balanced public enemy, but into one. Alcatraz, strangely enough. Lucky for him that Alcatraz was deserted or he would've looked a proper charlie. So now he's running his drug cartel from within the fortified walls.

Obviously, this sort of disregard for common sense can't go unquestioned. This being the case, some blokes in suits decide that some blokes in combat trousers should sneak into the prison and shoot the bad guy. Democracy, eh?

The blokes in combat trousers, who are also lumbered with the rather crap names of First and Bird, are then dumped in a dinghy and given a hearty shove in the general direction of Alcatraz.

And when they finally drift ashore on Alcatraz Island, they find themselves armed only with nine throwing knives each. This is so they can infiltrate the prison without making too much noise. Unfortunately, as soon as any of the guards spot them, they let rip with guns, grenades and flame throwers, thus spoiling the surprise somewhat. Ho Hum.

Anyway, with all hell breaking loose, our two heroes must battle their way to various buildings in the Alcatraz complex and either nick evidence or blow them up. These sections are played in 3D, rather than the horizontal scrolling of the game, presumably to add to the atmosphere.

Alcatraz, it must be said, bears an almost uncanny resemblance to Hostages. This isn't surprising when you realise that Alcatraz is, to all intents and purposes, Hostages 2.
While this is undoubtedly a bit of a plus, seeing as how Hostages was and still is a stonking little game, it also brings to light the bad pints in Alcatraz.

You see, Alcatraz looks a hell of a lot like all the different sections in Hostages, but played in a different order. You've got the left to right bit, the 3D walk-around-and-shoot-baddies bit, and the "too bloody hard for its own good" abseiling bit.

But whereas in Hostages the left to right bit was a pain in the rear end, in Alcatraz it is excellent. You can pick up a variety of weapons from downed guards and use them yourself. This, coupled with the screams and gunshots, makes this section quite a tasty little shoot-'em-up.

Its only real let downs are that the two player sprites are identical and you can only change weapons when you're hiding in the background, so you end up having to dodge behind doors while being shot to pieces, which is a bit of a chore in the middle of a fight.

At the end of each scrolly bit there's one of those "important" buildings where you switch to 3D. And true to Sod's law, whereas this was the best bit of Hostages, in Alcatraz it's a bit of a let down.

All the meaty weapons you collected outside are useless indoors, and well, let's be honest, RoboCop 3 did this tons better. What should have been the best section just feels a bit flat I'm afraid.

I can't comment on the abseiling bit as I've yet to find anybody who can actually do it. But it's probably like it was in Hostages - a tricky bit that you have to do to get to the next shooting match.

As a whole, Alcatraz is an improvement on Hostages. The simultaneous two-player option means that you can run around and shoot people with your mate, and teamwork is absolutely essential to success.

The scrolly shooty bits are absolutely brilliant, and the 3D bits are not quite as good, but still fun. All in all, a reet groovey little blaster and one that should keep you happy on a wet weekend. Well worth a look.

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This is the deal. The year's 1996 and Alcatraz has been taken over by some nasty chaps in a drug cartel. Your job is to capture the rotten dealers, burn the drugs and blow up the laboratories. This is carried out over four levels; the approach, the entrance, the clean out and the departure.

Essentially, what we've got here is a revamp of Hostages. The game consists of one beat-em-up section (fight with knife or gun or hide), followed by a maze-like section, some abseiling and then a swift exit.

Each of these sections manages to be suitably tense as you can choose to either lay low or fight. The gloomy graphics add greatly to the sombre atmosphere and the clock in the top left-hand corner of the screen slowly ticks down your allotted two hours.

Either one or two players can play the game (simultaneously) and this is where the game really does come into its own. Each can help the other out or stand by dispassionately while they get their heads kicked in or underwear singed.,

Your task is greatly helped by the number of spare weapons left lying around, although I found it extremely difficult to actually change weapons, it's meant to be joystick up, but it doesn't work too well, mainly because you have to be in hiding before swapping.

There are knives, flame-throwers, rifles, machine-guns and hand grenades all lying around ready for you to use. Of these, the flame-thrower is definitely the most useful as it manages to obliterate all enemies who happen to be on screen at any one time.

There's nothing too revolutionary about this game, but the two-player option is a lot of fun. There are some very nice touches in the game particularly when it switches to an Operation Wolf-style environment, and these lift its lasting interest considerably. If you liked Hstages (the game, not the news report), check this one out.

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Vor vier Jahren präsentierte Infogrames das Geiseldrama "Hostages", vor anderthalb lief die Werbekampagne für den Nachfolger, dann herrschte erstmal Funkstille. Der neue Action-Schocker kam also langsam - kommt er auch gewaltig?

Die Zeit: 1996. Der Ort: Alcatraz, längst stillgelegte Gefängnisinsel der Bucht von San Francisco. Die Situation: Der Drogenhändler Miguel Tardiez hat auf dem heruntergekommenen Knast-Eiland sein Hauptquartier errichtet.

Die Aufgabe: Mit einer Eliteeinheit die Insel stürmen! Das hört sich vernünftig an, doch scheinbar besteht der Trupp aus ganzen zwei Leuten, die (vorerst) nur mit Wurfmessern bewaffnet sind und sich zu allem Überfluß auch noch den (Split-) Screen miteinander teilen müssen - tja, man spart, wo man kann...

Die Jagd beginnt im Inselhafen, von dort aus muß man sich unter Zeitdruck auf einer düsteren Straße weiter nach rechts vorkämpfen. Aber nicht zu weit, sonst steht man plötzlich vor dem Hubschrauber, der einen eigentlich erst nach getaner Arbeit abholen soll!

Das passiert aber nur, wenn man bei der anfänglichen Einsatzbesprechung nicht aufgepaßt hat: hier erfährt man nämlich, welche Gebäude in welcher Reihenfolge durchsucht werden müssen: In einer Baracke sind Beweismittel sicherzustellen, dann geht's wieder raus zur Straße und kurz darauf in eine verlassene Fabrik, die Miguel als Lager benützt. Sobald man dort zwei Zeitbomben gelegt hat, darf man sich als Fassadenkletterer betätigen, um in das dritte und entscheidende (Gefängnis) Gebäude einzudringen. Aber keine Sorge, bis dahin ist es ein weiter Weg!

Solange man sich auf der Straße befindet, ist der Bildschirm horizontal geteilt, in den diversen Baulichkeiten vertikal.

Das gilt auch, wenn man alleine unterwegs ist - das Zweitspieler-Sprite bleibt dann einfach stehen, bis es Miguels Schergen abserviert haben. Und Schergen hat der Drogenbaron eine ganze Menge, zufallsgesteuert tauchen sie von links, rechts oder vorne auf und machen mit ihren MGs, Flammenwerfern, Messeren und Handgranaten Jagd auf des Spielers (drei) Bildschirmleben.

Das hat auch sein Gutes, weil besiegte Gegner ihre Waffen zur Weiterbenutzung zurücklassen; um die gerade aktive Waffe zu wechseln, muß man sich auf der Straße allerdings erst einen sicheren Hinterhalt suchen. In den Gebäuden hat man dagegen immer ein Gewehr, außerdem wird dort ein kleiner Radarscreen zur besseren Orientierung in den labyrinthartigen 3D-Räumlichkeiten eingeblendet.

Das Radar und die Fassadenkletter-Sequenz (bei der man Suchscheinwerfern ausweichen muß) kennt man bereits von "Hostages", überhaupt ist Alcatraz ein typischer Nachfolger. Das verspricht zwar einerseits wenig Originalität, anderseits erneut abwechslungsreiche Action in stimmungsvoller Präsentation - sowohl was die Grafik (lediglich das Scrolling ruckelt leicht), als auch das Musik und Sound-Fx betrifft. Dazu kommt eine absolut problemlose Handhabung mittels Joy oder Keyboard: insgesamt war die lange Produktionszeit also nicht umsonst. (C. Borgmeier)

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Infogrames deal up one of the oddest missions yet - break into Alcatraz!

I thought the traditional idea was to escape from Alcatraz. You know, I if you see Alcatraz, run in completely the opposite direction!' sort of stuff. Certainly, Clint Eastwood didn't hand around long before doing a runner, armed (incidentally) with onlya cunningly fashioned spoon-cum-knife gadget and an inflatable rubber coat (!). Even the infamous bird-man (some sort of cross-dresser? I haven't actually seen the film) could only have been there under duress.

But not so according to Infogrames! Here our objective is to get into Alcatraz. Bird and Fist are two crack commandos on the trail of Public Enemy No. 1, the international drug terrorist Miguel Tardiez. He's holed up in the seemingly impenetrable former federal prison, together with his gang of armed-to-the-gold-teeth hardnuts.

The deal is that if the boys can brake into Alcatraz, successfully complete three separate missions and then capture the guy himself, well, he'll certainly think twice before selling any drugs again.

Alcatraz is a two-player game in the Bonanza Bros split-screen style, allowing both characters to explore their surrounding simultaneously. In one-player mode you actually control both players - a tap of the return key swaps control from Bird to Fist (or back again, whatever), with one player stopping moving and the other continuing from wherever he was abandoned.

This may sound complicated, but in fact it's initially quite fun. The two characters can 'hide' in the background. This involves simply guiding them to strategic points of the scenery where they can wait in safety. So walk, roll and scrap your way with Fist until he gets to a hiding place further into the game, then leave him there and advance Bird along the same path in his footsteps.

There are three missions to complete, and you have two hours to complete them all in. Mission one: explore the barracks and seize some vital incriminating documents with which you can pin down Miguel.
Mission two: locate the industry building, and destroy the drugs and cash located within. Lastly, mission three: infiltrate the cell-houses and bang the head honcho to rights. One quick dash to the helicopter pad later (don't worry, Infogrames provide a map of the island) and you've finished.

Fans of Infogrames' release Hostages from a few years back will be on very familiar grund here.
The problem is, of course, that Miguel's henchmen are dotted around the place waiting to give you a hard time. As Bird and Fist scamper around the island, they'll encounter quite an unfeasibly large number of armed guards. The action is either beat, knife, rifle, flame thrower or grenade-'em-up, depending on which weapon you've managed to collect or have selected to use. If you manage to kill a bad guy, he'll drop his weapon. Pick the weapon up, and it's yours for the using (until the ammo runs out of course, then you'll have to find yourself another one).

The graphics are good. The animation is smooth (Bird and Fist really creep around the island with style) and there's a real atmosphere of menace. But in one player mode the two-player switching soon becomes a pain in the Alcatraz, the only relief coming when one of the characters dies so the other can carry on alone. To get the most out of this game you really need two players - even more so than with the Bonanza Brothers.

So grab a friend, 'soften him up a bit'(all good practise for the game ahead) and get him to go halves with you - you're guaranteed to have more fun on Alcatraz than the bird-man (I'm still worried about that) ever did.