Chase H.Q. 2: Special Criminal Investigation logo

OCEAN £24.99 * Joystick, mouse or keyboard

If all crimes were as easy to solve as those in SCI, we'd never have to suffer Nick Ross and Crimewatch again. All the felons in Taito's coin-op world walk about with a large red arrow above their head bearing the word CRIMINAL, which is a bit of a giveaway. Mind you the two tec's who star in this cops and robbers, car-chase game don't have it all their own way. While the crooks are easy to spot they ain't easy to catch.

SCI - Special Criminal Investigation - takes over where Chase HQ left off. Two policemen drive, under your command, a special high-powered car enforcing the law. After they get a call from Nancy, at Chase HQ, telling them which criminals are about then it's race time.

With turbos on full, they're off in hot pursuit along winding roads - ramming the villains into submission. The boys get a gun this time too, which they use to cut a path through slower traffic by blowing them up. It's harsh but it's fair - everyone gets blasted.

60 Seconds to Comply
The chase splits into two sections. First comes the pursuit of the criminal, who has a substantial lead. Once they are in sight the second section commences: sirens go on, the big red arrow appears and you've 60 seconds to ram them off the road. To give the coppers a helping hand, a police chopper drops in a bazooka for some extra firepower. As the damage clocks up - from ramming, gun shots or bazooka shells - a small meter appears on-screen which allows you to gauge your success.

SCI went down a storm in the arcades and it has carried its coin-op baggage to the Amiga in full. Explosions litter the screen and the roads flick by at real speed. You control both the car, turbos and the gun-toting passenger. They must be used to the full if the bad guys are to do time. The tactics are simple: go as fast as possible then ram and shoot the crook, side-swiping lame drivers en route.

SCI features an impressively fast red car, good backgrounds and enough similarity to the arcade - roadwise - to satisfy any coin-op junkie. The villains are obvious, but are hard to hit. They are surrounded by outriders and continually try to sucker pursuers into time consuming errors. The turbos are crazily fast and rate as the high point of the whole show.

Identity Crises
Everything works the way it ought to and looks the way police pursuit games should. There is something missing from SCI however. It lacks any real identity and as such doesn't exactly scream "play me". That certain something makes arcade conversions like Pang and Rainbow Islands (both from Ocean) so compulsive just isn't there.

SCI relies on the need for speed, spiced with a little fire-Power, for its addictive edge. Efforts have been made to support the game with loads of digitised speech and curiously violent arrest cameos, but the trimming can't really make the game.

SCI is fun, but repetitive. The main improvement to the Chase HQ formula is a gun and again added firepower doesn't significantly increase the gameplay quotient. The graphics are good, but there is nothing that makes SCI challenging. Without this SCI is consigned to that jam of car games on the motorway of life.

Chase H.Q. 2: Special Criminal Investigation logo Amiga Joker Hit

Fortsetzungen regieren zur Zeit die Software-Welt, wieso sollte da ausgerechnet Ocean aus der Reihe tanzen? Ausserdem: Solange die Nachfolger nur besser sind als ihre Vorgänger, gibt's ja auch nichts zu mosern!

Der erste Teil dieser rasanten Verbrecherhatz war vor einem Jahr der Weihnachtshit in England. Damit stand praktisch schon fest, daß auch der Nachfolge-Automat (Special Criminal Investigation) für den Amiga umgesetzt würde. Und man muß sagen, es war eine weise Entscheidung!

Natürlich hat sich am Spielprinzip selbst so gut wie nichts geändert: Nach wie vor werden hier böse Buben von tapferen Polizisten mit einem schnellen Auto gejagt und (wenn alles gutgeht) zur Strecke gebracht. Immer noch hat die Karre einen Turbobooster (Spacetaste), immer noch gibt es hübsche Zwischengrafiken.

Neben eher kosmetischen Korrekturen (unsere Turbo-Bullen sind mit einen neuen Modell unterwegs, und das Mädel vom Polizei-funk heißt jetzt Karen statt Nancy) gibt es auch ein paar wirkliche Neuerungen. So hat zwischenzeitlich wohl jemand den beiden Cops verraten, daß man Verbrecherautos nicht nur rammen, sondern auch auf sie schießen kann. Und da ihr Flitzer ein Schiebedach hat, steht dem Feuerwerk ja nichts im Wege. Auch für Luftunterstützung ist jetzt gesorgt, gelegentlich kommt ein Polizeihubschrauber dahergeflogen und wirft einen besseren Ballermann ab.

Beim Szenario hat es ebenfalls einige Änderungen/Verbesserungen gegeben: Es gibt mehr Details wie z.B. wechselendes Wetter, die Gejagten wehren sich und schießen zurück oder werfen Gegenstände auf die Fahrbahn. Ja, sogar eine ausgewachsene Motorrad-Gang wird aufgeboten, um unsere Helden bei der Dienstausübung zu behindern. Noch ein paar Kleinigkeiten sollte man erwähnen, beispielsweise informiert nun eine Anzeige den Spieler, wie weit das Gangsterauto gerade entfernt ist, und nach dem Bestehen eines Levels wird die verbliebene Restzeit in Bonuspunkte umgewandelt.

Die Grafik wird dem Amiga jetzt wirklich voll gerecht; sie ist nicht nur schöner und farbenfroher, sondern gleichzeitig auch schneller geworden. Der Sound braucht sich ebenfalls nicht zu verstecken: Das Angebot umfaßt sehr gute Musik, flotte Effekte und auch ein bißchen Sprachausgabe. Die Steuerung ist weitgehend die alte, höchstens das Kurvenverhalten ist vielleicht um eine Nuance besser geworden. Das Zeitlimit ist knapp bemessen wie eh und je, aber (den zwei Continues sei Dank!) übermäßig schwer ist Chase H.Q. II deswegen nicht.

Ocean hat hier eine Umsetzung abgeliefert, bei der man tatsächlich keinen Grund zum Meckern findet. Auch wenn es den ersten Teil bereits auf einer (im übrigen ausgezeichneten) Compilation gibt - dieses Game ist seine Kohle auf alle Fälle wert! (mm)

Chase H.Q. 2: Special Criminal Investigation logo

Although Chase HQ was a playable enough race game, it didn't really capture the atmosphere of the brilliant Taito coin-op. Graphically, it was adequate, but hardly close to the original, and it was also slightly too hard, making it nigh-on impossible to complete. The coin-op version of SCI boasted major improvements over the first game, with more varied action and the addition of weapons. With this conversion, development team ICE (who were behind the conversion of US Gold's Turbo Outrun), have included most of the improved features.

Once again, you step into the Gucci shoes of two of Miami's hottest cops, but this time you are cruising the streets for information regarding the whereabouts of the Mayor's kidnapped daughter. You start the game at your HQ and are briefed on what to expect. After that, you must burn up the city highways, avoiding other motorists, and attempting to reach the felon within the strict time-limit - using your limited supply of turbo boosters whenever time is running short.

Once he is in sight, the crook's cover will be blow by a rather conspicuous arrow which hovers above him, so you must stay behind him and repeatedly shoot him until he pulls over. However, unlike in the first game, SCI's villains fight back, and as you pursue them, you must avoid the crates and bullets that they throw at you and keep an eye out for the gun-toting bike riders that surround them.

From the above description, it doesn't sound as if there is a lot of difference between Chase and its sequel, and that's a perfectly valid assumption. ICE have definitely written a better game, but it still doesn't convey the urgency that the coin-op did. Likewise, the graphics are a little on the dull side, with the main sprite reminding your of Turbo Outrun, and features very little in the way of animation, whilst the update of the road is far from impressive or smooth.

Chase H.Q. 2: Special Criminal Investigation logo

Chase HQ... Name rings a bell... Flight sim, wasn't it? A bit of a Christmas hottie last year? Well, Chase HQ II has just arrived. And, strangely enough, it's all about cars. Blimey, I bet someone's for the chop at Ocean.

Where to start, really... a game of such fiendish complexity, it's difficult. Here goes. There's a girl missing (or it might be two, actually) and you've got to find her. She's been kidnapped or something. Or is that completely wrong? You're after a drug baron and he's got this girlfiend who... um... anyway, you've got this spanking Ferrari which you habitually drive so fast that your fellow undercover officers call you 'Princess Anne'. You're a cop, by the way. It's got a sunroof fitted which is quite handy, really, since your pal has a habit of standing up and taking pot shots at other cars with a dirty great 12-bore. I mean, he'd bang his head rather a lot otherwise, wouldn't he?

The idea is to drive about shouting rude comments to all the busty Californian 'chicks' wandering about until Nancy - a busty Californian radio officer - calls you up on the intercom and tells you to get your, um, 'butt' into gear and chase such-and-such a criminal in some distinctive vehicle or other.

Without further ado, you press your plate of meat to the floor and give chase. That, you see, is why the game is called Chase HQ II. It has nothing at all to do with a new branch of Chase Manhattan (the famous New York bank) as you might previously have thought. Anyway, you roar along, avoiding all the various supercars that coincidentally appears to be racing along the highway at speeds in excess of 150 mph (gasp) until you catch sight of the evil crims in their getaway vehicle. This is the cue to whack flashing lights on your roof (ruins the aerodynamics mind) and for your partner to thrust himself manfully out of the sunroof and hurl lead shot and gross obscenities after the evil felons. (Fortunately the foul language is obscured by 'wind noise'.)

Once you've caught up, the idea is either to ram the wrongdoer up the jax or shoot him enough times to knobble his rig. At which point, you smack him about a bit to prove you're a real copper even though you aren't wearing a uniform and take him back to the station for a quick interrogation session and 18 months in a remand cell.

That sounds easy, doesn't it? Well there are a few hindrances. Firstly, you've only a limited amount of time to 'apprehend' (i.e. destroy) the transgressors' motor car (and it's never ever enough); and secondly, there are hazards all over the shop, including boulders that plunge across the roads at inconvenient moments and grenade-lobbing motorcyclists. So it's by no means a picnic (unless you fancy parking somewhere nice along the way).

Amiga reviewTim: "Vroom! Kerscreech! Stick your head out of the sunroof and get shooting, you big Jessy!" Sorry, got a bit carried away there. You see, Chase HQ II is one of those games where you have to be in the right mood, otherwise there's not a lot of point in playing it. For example, if you fancy a game of chess but your sister tells you to bog off, then it's probably not advisable to turn to this instead.

Okay, so what you wall want to know is: how does it compare to Chase HQ, which was a tadge on the disappointing side? It plays better, definitely, but you expect that really. The real difference is that the gameplay is much meatier. Chase HQ was a real yawn after the first couple of levels: the sequel has loads of neat little touches to keep your attention - like the helicopter which drops extra weaponry.

The graphics are extremely pretty (note the rather tasteful graduated skyline) and is as faithful to the coin-op as can be expected. What you won't be able to tell from the screenshots is how smoothly it runs. Chase HQ II ain't the best when it comes to speed but, heck, it's good enough. I mean, are you really worried about things like frame rates when you're hanging out of a Ferrari at 174 mph?

If there are any criticisms, they lie with the coin-op itself. I mean, after Outrun, Turbo Outrun and Chase HQ, are you really in the mood for another chase 'em up? If deep down you're looking for a straight racing game, then maybe you should be checking out Lotus or Indy 500. But if you want to play Chase HQ II, you can't really beat Chase HQ II - if you see what I mean...

Atari ST reviewDavid: "Vroom! Kerscreech! Stick your head out of the sunroof and get shooting, you big Jessy!" Oh dear, sounds a bit like the last review, doesn't it? But then Chase HQ II is rather like Chase HQ so it's actually quite relevant. (Look, just get on with it and stop cribbing my review. Ed.).

When we looked at the coin-op a year ago, it got five 'invaders' (i.e. top whack) and the following comment: "Sure, it's just Chase HQ with knobs on, but what knobs!!" Quite. It's got nifty bits strapped cleverly onto the side of the original 'chase 'n' bang' design. Being able to shoot the crims is a definite plus, as are the entourages who chuck stuff back at you. There are 'power ups' in the form of a helicopter that drops weaponry to you (fancy using a rocket on a Cadillac limo?) and the scenery is nicely varied.

The ST version is the same in gameplay as the Amiga but chugs a bit. Still, that's the price you pay for having about ten billion sprites on screen at once. If you liked the original game, then chances are you'll prefer this sequel - it plays better in almost every respect. If, on the other hand, you felt it was a bit boring and passé, then Chase HQ II may well have arrived a year too late. Oh dear. Stop

A blow by blow guide to gang-busting the Chase HQ way.
Translated from the native Californian by Lord Paul Laking (jnr).

"Hello, I say chaps, it's Nancy the well-endowed police lady calling you on the radio apparatus. There seems to be a car of Teutonic origin, quite possibly a Porsche 959 or similar generic chassis, speeding off towards the suburbs with a girl who fits the description of your quarry. I should beetle over there pronto and kick some bottom!" (That's enough translating thank you Lakin. Ed.)
When you finally catch up with the car, it turns out to be an incredibly ugly bruiser accompanied by a female with knock knees - and they aren't even the knees you're looking for!

Blimey! Nancy's on the case! Scarcely have you wiped the 'red ink stains' of your 'large leather-coated interrogation biro' than the news of a station wagon that looks like Bob's heading off with a girl called Joyce in the passenger seat. Pausing only to remark that 'Joyce' is a very uncommon name in the Los Angeles area, you leap into action...

Well, that was a waste of time: it was the wrong girl and it wasn't Bob. Next thing you know, you're headed off into the mountains. This, If I remember right (which I probably don't), is the level where you take the car for a wax and polish - the road tunnel entrances are all concealed behind waterfalls, so you have the rather unnerving task of driving at a wall of water.

It's Nancy again. That little tyke Bobby has stolen a police patrol wagon (i.e. a dodgy grey camper van) and is speeding away (again), catch him (again) and pump him for the true scam. But the truth is shocking: Tony Raymond, the next mayor, is the real baddy! Cripes! This level, by the way, features three 'out of control school buses'...

Now you'd think this Tony Raymond character would try and slope off inconspicuously once his cover was blown. Not so - he speeds off into the desert in a lorry with 'Tony' written all over it in large letters. The dork. You have a mystery adversary in this level, who turns out to be a psychopathic helicopter pilot with a 'thing' about red Ferraris. Shoot him down and Raymond is revealed, laughing manically. You have 30 seconds to rescue the girl who is hugging a time bomb back in town!

No time to explain... (Screech.) Has anyone got a watch? (Screech.) No? In that case, um... Blammmmmmmmmm! Whoops!

Chase H.Q. 2: Special Criminal Investigation logo Zzap! Sizzler

Ocean, C64 £19.99 cartridge; Amiga £24.99

The mayor's daughter, Jennifer, has been kidnapped and he's desperate to save her. So desperate that, yes, Chase HQ's Broady and Gibson have been given a new car, powerful guns and even a police helicopter to supply them with bazookas! Can the city survive this explosive onslaught?

Chase HQ's new controller, curvy Karen, kicks off the SCI by telling our favorite demolition derby duo that some suspected perps are escaping in a red Porsche 911. A picture of the car is shown on the sophisticated comms unit and the chase begins.

The world's most dangerous cops have replaced their battered black Porsche with a red Ferrari lookalike. It's got a fully automatic gearbox, plus nitro fuel injection for bursts of super-speed --to begin with, the car has four nitros which last just a couple of seconds when activated. As the car accelerates into action a timer starts counting down, if the duo fails to catch up with the Porsche before time runs out the chase is called off (one of three continue-plays can be used to resume the action, though). Once the villain is sighted, more time is added to allow the pair time to apprehend him.

Rather than ramming the car off the road, Broady leans out the window and starts blasting away. As you'd expect, Broady is also free to blast any civilians who get in the way. To arrest the perp the damage gauge must be increased to 100%, the car bursting into flames. Further help is provided by the bazooka dropped by a police helicopter: if Broady manages to catch this, he gets a couple of super-shots. Once the 911 is stopped, a screen comes up to show the cops cuffing the perp and rescuing one of the girls, but Jennifer is still missing.

The next stage of the investigation is pursuing a van. The same casually-intensive procedures are used to bring the perp to book, but this time the baddie has some friends. A group of Hell's Angels bikers try and block the way, so they must either be avoided or shot. The next criminal drives a limo and is protected by black Porsche 911 Porsches. Interrogating him reveals one of the kidnappers is driving a truck. His associates hurl barrels out of the back to stop Broady and Gibson, and once the truck is destroyed an attack helicopter swoops down to finally stop the investigation. Survive this and Jennifer's location is revealed to be in a warehouse. This final level gives you just one nitro and no continue-plays to make a frantic race across desert roads to rescue the mayor's daughter. Any mistakes will almost certainly be fatal!

Phil King Phew, what an improvement over Chase HQ! With Mark Kelly's technical advice and Steve Crow's game graphics the C64 game resembles Turbo with guns! Programmer Grant Harrison ensures it all comes together brilliantly, the graphics are truly remarkable with an incredible fast 3-D road and plenty of scenery flying past. The cartridge is great for eliminating long inter-level pauses, and although the arrest screens are a bit disappointing they'd be impossible on tape. This is certainly one game you won't be zooming through on your first go; it's so tough. Even catching the first criminal is a difficult task with all the traffic that gets in your way. Then it takes ages to blast the criminal's car to a standstill, with it gradually catching fire until it's a burnt-out wreck.
The Amiga version is slightly easier but just as impressive with a scorching soundtrack and smooth 3-D graphics, beautifully detailed and frighteningly fast - a vast improvement over ICE's previous Amiga race game conversion, Turbo.
On both formats, it's the sheer pace of the action that gets the adrenalin going. As well as being a technical masterpiece, SCI is a thrilling challenge.
Robin Hogg C64 SCI brings across the sheer exhilaration of the coin-op, barreling along in hot pursuit of determined criminals. In Chase 1, it was often depressing when you realized you wouldn't be able to reach the criminal within the time limit: now that you're armed, you can be a fair distance away and still bring the perp to a halt. What's more, you DO have the speed sensation (even without the Nitro on) which brings across the coin-op's atmosphere and feel incredibly well.
The Amiga version is very slick presented although loading times are a little long. The graphics are worth waiting for, though, with a very attractive horizon fade matched by decent speed of movement and the impressive sight of eight vehicles all on screen at once. Sound is also good; for once, the car features a decent engine roar. This version looks a lot like coin-op and has faithfully kept nearly all of the extra features which made that so much better than Chase 1. Oncoming traffic to worry about, buses crossing your path, and the extra effect of waves crashing over the sides of the bridge as you rocket along all show off the professionalism of the game's translation. Any slight worries about long-term challenge with only five levels were quelled with the arrival of Level Two: fighting your way through the horde of Hell's Angels is tough enough before getting anywhere near the bad guy's van. A mighty tough challenge but so much fun to be had!
Stuart Wynne C64 SCI lives up to its early promise. The speed of the graphics is astounding, surging past Turbo in the speed stakes with a brilliant range of hills, tight curves and tunnels to test your driving skills. Then there's the number of vehicles on the road. It's a lot more crowded than Turbo and with Nitro activated it gets very hectic. But of course the best feature is the enemy: catching up with them usually isn't too difficult, but bringing them to book will require a lot of persistence and skill. Making that perp's car burst into flames gives a great feeling of satisfaction. My only slight reservation is that the inter-level screens are merely adequate; they could've been better. But this is without doubt the best driving game out, finally knocking Turbo off it perch. Not only because it's a better game (partly due to the coin-op it's based on) and technically superior, but also because the cartridge eliminates the loading hassle between levels. No tape-based game can compete with this, while the ability to simply slam the cart in and start playing instantly means it's going to see a heckuva lot of action.
On the Amiga front, playability is just as high. The ICE team have certainly improved since Turbo, packing in an incredible amount of graphical detail and more importantly ensured the game is overflowing with action. The car handles well, while the sensation heavy traffic is almost overwhelming; there's a huge amount of stuff all moving incredibly quickly, including plenty of obstacles such as boulders and crates. With some superb sonics this truly is a dedicated Amiga game, not an ST port, and it's a pleasure to play.