Not content with the success of their recent war-'em-up Cannon Fodder, Virgin seem to be continuing on the warmongering path with this, their latest offering, Apocalypse. Borrowing many of its ideas and looks from the film Apocalypse Now, the game suggests the scenario of the Vietnam war. Political correctness is abandoned as you take control of your helicopter, massacre enemy soldiers with a vast array of weapons and destroy their bases and artillery.
The game was the original idea of development team Strangeways, who disbanded the project leaving it to the capable hands of Miracle Games. Their aim was to create a product for the Amiga that was worthy of an arcade machine. And now after what seems like an eternity the title is finally here. But was it worth the wait?
Mission Apocalypse. Rebel forces have invaded the insignficant island of Majipoor taking hundreds of prisoners. Chosen from one of the Tlie, it is your mission to destroy the enemy forces and rescue as many prisoners of war as possible.
Find the five key enemy bases situated in the dense jungle, attempt to blow up the battleship docked somewhere on the island and rescue your best buddy being held in a ruined temple in the heart of the jungle.
Above all, rescue captured scientists and military experts. A medical team is at your disposal. Use your piloting skills and the multitude of weapons available to you get get through this arduous task.
Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind
John F Kennedy to United Nations Assembly, September 25, 1961
However intentional it was, the game can be closely related to the Vietnam war and so a title of this nature will inevitably raise questions on moral implications. As the conflict was so controversial in the first place and comparatively recent, the game could cause offence. More so perhaps across the Atlantic than here, but even so, it is perhaps worth considering the inspiration behind the game.
The routes of the conflict can be traced back to 1954, to the Geneva Convention when Vietnam was split into the Communist North and the Pro-Western south, right up until 1975. It was later known as "America's longest and most unpopular war". For the first time the full horrors of war came under the scrutiny of the general public via the new medium of television. Anti-war protests broke out, some resulting in outbreaks of violence.
One such protest took place on October 15, 1969. This was the Vietnam Moratorium, and was the biggest anti-war demonstration ever organised in America.
The war resulted in the loss of 200,000 South Vietnamese soldiers, one million North Vietnamese soldiers and 500,000 civilians. Losses were also high on the American side with 56,555 US soldiers killed between 1961-75, a fifth by their own men.
For instance, in August 1966 20 US soldiers died when US planes accidentally napalmed their own troops. Neutral Cambodia also suffered, estimating one million killed or wounded by US bombings.
A great deal of the atmosphere has been conjured through the excellent sonics resulting in an almost chilling realism. From small details like the background jungle effects to the many different weapon noises, they all combine to portray an authentic war zone atmosphere. A vital factor in a successful shoot-'em-up is how accurate the weaponry sounds. Apocalypse creates this well.67%
Apocalypse is a multi-
Jungle settings have been cleverly used to recreate the terrain almost to the extent of looking like a scene form the aforementioned Apocalypse Now. The immense amount of foreground and background detail make Apocalypse astoundingly authentic.
However, the multi-layered backdrops and different levels of platforms used cause problems, especially when gameplay becomes hectic. One moment's lack in concentration and you find yourself exploding into the ground as it's sometimes difficult to make out which is merely foreground detail and which is a landing platform.
Sprites are well-animated and despite their size show a great amount of detail, displaying all the gory effects of explosions.75%
As far as being a highly realistic war game goes, Apocalypse looks and sounds the business, evoking a powerful image of war. But it does verge on the excessively difficult side, and although this provides longevity, the game becomes exceedingly frustrating.
It's also let down by the fiddly control system, and although the helicopter is easy to fly, the Fire button serves the same function for both weapons and changing direction resulting in firing accidentally - sometimes at your own men.
More depth in the gameplay, rather than just an advanced shoot-'em-up, would have benefited the game, and a save game option would have removed some of the frustration.
However it is graphically brilliant and the realistic, sampled sound effects make the game stand out above others in this genre.