Hill Street Blues logo

KRISALIS * £24.99 Mouse

Freaky licence of the year award, certainly goes to Krisalis. The hit american cops-and-robbers series may be over, but the memory kinda lingers. Hill Street Blues was one of those 'gritty' true to life programmes which appealed to the viewing public because the characters were something more than cardboard cut-outs. The problem in converting such a series into a computer game is in retaining that realism and characterization. So have the programmers managed it?

Roll Call 6:52 am
The easiest way of thinking about Hill Street Blues is as Sim City with cops and robbers. The idea of the game is to manage the Hill Street precinct. You take on the role of Captain Frank "Frank" Furillo and your job is to allocate your resources so that crime is kept down to an absolute minimum.

The game starts with a polished introductory sequence which familiarises you with the officers at Hill Street. The all too familiar words "Roll Call 6:52 am" then appear on screen and the game proper starts.

Your initial duty is to allocate rookie cops to certain areas of the city. This can be quite important, as if you need back-up in a rough area, you will need to know that he or she isn't going to bottle out. With these people in place the main game screen appears and AJ, the radio operator, introduces herself.

Let's be careful out there
The control of the Hill Street precinct is entirely by means of icons. Each officer can act independently of the rest of the squad, therefore it's possible to have all your officers out at once tackling completely different crimes.

Once A.J. Informs you that a crime is in progress the first job is to find out where it is. This means scanning the map screen by clicking on each block in turn, valuable minutes can be lost if you have to check the whole map. Then with the destination set, you pick an officer, send them to their car and then on to the crime's location. While the car is en route it's advisable to call up Furillo's computer to see if there is a picture of the criminal on file.

When the officer arrives a new set of icons come into play. Pedestrians can be compared with the description of the criminal. If these match then the person can be apprehended. IF they try and escape you can either chase or shoot them. Should the crime have been violent then paramedics can be called, if there is more than one assailant then back-up can be called for.

Guilty as charged
Against all odds, Hill Street Blues is a lot of fun. Initially it's quite bewildering. There are 48 different icons to get used to and it can be frustrating to lose your way while a criminal is doing his best impression of Ben Jonson.

The pace of the game hots up quickly. No sooner have you allocated your last officer to a crime and AJ comes over the radio to report another crime. You have to constantly check the progress of your officers, sending the right person to the right job. Get it wrong and crime will escalate, and eventually the mayor will replace you.

Graphically the game is nothing special. The icons are clear and functional. The graphic stills are adequate and the animation's fine, though slow at times. Sound is uninspiring, consisting most of car horns.


CAR 54 WHERE ARE YOU?

Hill Street Blues Enter Furillo's office to examine crime file and view officer statistics.

Hill Street Blues Enter/leave car.

Hill Street Blues This is to access the city map.

Hill Street Blues Us the radio.

Hill Street Blues Send officer to a destination.

Hill Street Blues Assume direct control of the officer.

Hill Street Blues Select a different officer.

Hill Street Blues Park police car.

Hill Street Blues Use to approach a suspect.

Hill Street Blues This will set the siren wailing.



Hill Street Blues logo

Wer die gepflegte Hektik des Polizeitags sucht, wird jetzt bei Krisalis fündig: Die englische Company hat sich der gleichnamigen TV-Serie angenommen und eine spannende Simulation daraus gemacht!

Als Captain Furillo steht man vor der undankbaren Aufgabe, die Kriminalität in einem Knapp 150 Orte umfassenden Stadtbezirk in erträglichen Grenzen zu halten. Kein leichtes Unterfangen, denn jeder der etwa 600 Einwohner ist ein potentieller Verbrecher! Dem Ordnunshüter Müssen hingegen neun Detektiven samt Einsatzwagen genügen - Verstärkung kommt nur in Härtefällen...

Die meiste Zeit betrachtet man einen kleinen Ausschnitt seines Distrikts, der aus der Vogelperspektive gezeigt wird und in vier Richtungen gescrollt werden kann. Auf dem Straßen fahren Autos, morgens gehen die Menschen zur Arbeit, nachts ist die Stadt erleuchtet... tatsächlich führt hier jeder Bürger ein richtiges Eigenleben!

Sobald über Polizeifunk ein Fall gemeldet wurde, bringt man per Computer die Einzelheiten in Erfahrung (Delikt, Opfer, Täterbeschreibung, usw.), dann wird ein Detektiv beauftragt. Selbiger eilt nun zum Tatort, je nach Lage mit dem Wagen oder per Pedes.

Nicht selten sind so mehrere Fahnder gleichzeitig unterwegs - echtes Multitasking also. Zwischen den Cops sollte dabei ständig hin- und her geschaltet werden, denn sobald einer am Tatort ankommt, ist individuelle Steuerung gefragt. Die verarztung von Vorletzten will dann ebenso organisiert sein wie die Überprüfung der Passanten: War man schnell genug, dürfte sich der Täter noch in der näheren Umgebung herumtreiben, andernfalls ist er zumindest vorläufig entkommen.

Verdächtige, auf die das Phantombild aus Furillos Computer passt, können festgenommen werden, bei ganz schweren Jungs sprechen auch mal die Kanonen - ja, sogar eine Gerichtsverhandlung samt Täteridentifikation wurde nicht vergessen!

Bei guter Aufklärungsquote sinkt die Kriminalität, aber nicht nur das ist wichtig: Die Bürger sind auch unzufrieden, wenn die Nachbarschaft ständig durch Schießereien belästigt wird oder dank des Einsatzes von Strassensperren ein Verkehrschaos entsteht. Sinkt Furillos Popularität zu stark ab, wird er gefeuert, bei guter Arbeit winkt die Beförderung zum Polizeichef.

Die Grafik sieht bei alledem nicht übel aus - wenn nur Scrolling und Animationen nicht gar so ruckeln würden! Im Intro ertönt ein schöner Blues (der TV-Melodie nachempfunden), aber auf der Strasse ist wenig mehr als Hupen zu hören. Gesteuert wird das Ganze per Maus und einer anfänglich verwirrenden Vielzahl von Icons.

Spielerisch ist Komplexität geboten, wie man sie bei einem Lizenz-Game selten sieht: Schwere Verbrechen wie Morde geschehen beispielsweise vorwiegend nachts, nicht jeder Cop ist für jeden Einsatz gleich gut geeignet, und wer sich in seinem Distrikt nicht perfekt auskennt, verliert oft wertvolle Zeit. Kurz und gut: Hill Street Blues ist der Traum jedes Hobbykommissars! (jn)



Hill Street Blues logo

It may not be the most timely licence ever, but Hill Street Blues triumphs in two important areas - it's true to its source, and it's actually a good game.

I'm at a bit of a disadvantage reviewing this game, because I've never actually watched a single episode on the TV series on which it's based in my life. The rest of the office have given me a quick beginner's crash course in it though, so I should be okay - just forgive me if I miss any important little plot points or subtle nuances along the way.

So okay, into the actual game. This lends itself in some ways to comparison with Sim City, in as much as it puts you in control of a city precinct - you play Captain Furillo - whereby you've got to deal with half-a-dozen problems at once by zipping (although I use the word 'zipping' in the loosest possible sense here) around the scrolling map, getting to where the action is and doing something about it.

The 'doing something about it' bit is where things start to differ slightly. Here there's no solving the problem with a simple budget decision - you have to get out there and get your hands dirty.

Being a cop game, the problems are all of an identify-perpetrators-then-chase-them-and-catch-them nature, but being a licence of Hill Street Blues, with its 'realistic social milieu'(well, that's what the rest of the office told me), things turn out to be rather more complicated than they are in, say, Narc.

Not that you'll be tempted to use your SWAT team all that often anyway - a policeman's lot is not all high-speed chases and big shoot-outs, and sometimes it'll seem a lot more sensible to simply put up a road block to trap the baddies rather than take any more drastic action. Be careful though, because blocking roads tends to create traffic jams, and if the whole city transport system grinds to a halt, you're not going to be Captain Popular.

Your ultimate objective is to get promoted to Police Chief, but since to do that you're going to have to keep 90% of the people happy with your work for a significant length of time, it's not something you'll be achieving in a hurry (even at the easiest of the five difficulty levels).

At first, Hill Street Blues is a little hard to get a handle on. The mass of icons which are used to control your actions are easy to get mixed up in, and things cn swiftly become totally overwhelming. There are annoying little bugs too - such as the way an officer on foot can quite happily cross roads and railway lines, oblivious to any traffic that might also be attempting to use the same section of highway.

Rather than getting messily run down, the character appears to simply walk under the car or train and emerge smiling at the other side. It's a silly oversight and knocks a bit of a hole in the game;s realistic feel. (Or maybe I'm just a sicko and it teaches me right for trying to get my characters deliberately killed in the most unpleasant manner possible...)

I guess what you have to bear in mind here are that the graphics are functional and representative of what's going on rather than arcade-style perfect, with painstakingly worked out collision detection and the like, so it's not too big a fault. What really matters is that the inhabitants of the city (some 400 of them) are all unique and identifiable, so it becomes quite easy to believe in them as real people, and thus get quite closely drawn into the game.


Hill Street Blues is a Jekyll and Hyde kind of a game

The game can sometimes come across as an odd blend of painstaking detail and occasional carelessness, lending everything a slightly shizophrenic air. It doesn't quite give the impression of quality and confidence in the product so prominent in something like, say, Sim City.

This is starting to come over as slightly negative though, and it's not meant to at all. If you can stick with Hill Street Blues for a while, you find yourself drawn in by the atmosphere of it. The fact that the game opens with high-quality digitised pictures of the whole TV team makes it easy to identify with your characters and care about what happens to them.

It's worth putting in a good word for the music at the start too, so here's a good word for it: really nice. Oops, that's two words. Never mind, it saves me having to think of a word for the sound, which would be tricky, as there isn't any. Well, that's not strictly true, but effects are so few and far between (the odd toot of a horn, or the slamming of a car door) that they're hardly worth the mention.

The most impressive thing about Hill Street Blues, though, has to be the attention to detail. Favourite bits include the way that every time you shoot a criminal yo have to call in a coroner to cart the body away, the citizens getting stroppy about the streets being littered with smelly corpses, and so on.

Also, if you let a perp escape, the likelihood of him committing another crime is increased, and continues to increase the more he gets away with. Even the time of day is simulated, with everything getting darker and street lights coming on as the day turns into night.

ONE FOR HILL STREET GROUPIES
For all the nice touches though, the game is the important thing, and eventually things do get a touch samey - possibly a limitation of the police-work format. Still if you're a fan of the show you'll probably jump at the chance to step into your heroes' shoes, and the similarity to the TV storylines will actually be a good thing,

Krisalis certainly have to be congratulated on taking a brave, unusual and true-to-the-spirit-of-the-source-material approach to producing a TV licence - far rather this than another horizontally scrolling blaster, Operation Wolf clone or whatever. This isn't a bad effort at all, and it has an advantage over games like Sim City and Railroad Tycoon in that everything happens on a much more personal level, so it's easier to get involved.

I don't think it's quite zippy enough to appeal across the range of every sort of game player (like Sim City did) though, as the initial mass of icons is just a little too off-putting for all but the dedicated god sim fan.

Hill Street Blues is a Jekyll and Hyde kind of a game. On the one hand it's well thought-out and friendly, on the other it's demanding and sloppy, and it might well be the case that for many people the bad points outweigh the good ones. Then again, the kind of people who habitually buy this type of thing (to generalise things) don't tend to be all that pernickety about programming finesse, and for them it could be more than acceptable. If you're one of those people, this could be for you.


ON THE HILL STREET BEAT
All your favourite characters (and probably quite a few of the ones you hate too) from the TV show appear in the game. They're introduced by way of these rather pretty pictures plucked from the (ahem) 'atmospheric' intro sequence.

Hill Street Blues
Programmers lurking in the background horror!

Hill Street Blues
Hard-woman Bates is Coffey's patrol partner.

Hill Street Blues
Undercover cop Belker growls and bites people.

Hill Street Blues
Narcotics cop and serious hard-case.

Hill Street Blues
Coffey's the resident Italian stallion.

Hill Street Blues
Furillo's girlie and local District Attorney.

Hill Street Blues
Hurrah! The father-figure of the whole street team.

Hill Street Blues
Part cop, part bleeding-heart wimp.

Hill Street Blues
Bobby Hill partners the rather difficult Renko...

Hill Street Blues
Hunter's the SWAT chief and part-time fascist.

Hill Street Blues
Renko's a redneck who's not very good with girls.

Hill Street Blues
Famous for chewing matchsticks and, erm...



Hill Street Blues logo

At last someone's had the incredibly brilliant idea of turning the acclaimed TV series, Hill Street Blues, into a computer game. Hill Street's digital debut comes to you courtesy of Krisalis Software, who've been working on the game for more than nine months. Now you, too, can take control of Hill, Washington, Belker and Buntz or even Sergeant Hunter and his gun-toting SWAT team.

As Captain Frank Furillo, all the resources of the Hill Street Precinct are at your disposal, including five rookie officers who can be assigned specific areas of the precinct to patrol in their cars or on foot.

Te aim is to combat a rising crime rate by apprehending perpetrators of crime while keeping a watchful eye on your popularity levels. Your popularity is judged by the clean-up rate, excessive use of force, corpse-strewn streets or a multitude of other factors.

Keep your popularity above 90% for a long enough time and you'll be promoted to Police Chief; if it falls below 20% you'll be fired bya nervous Mayor and the game will be over.

The game begins, like the TV series, with an early morning Roll Call. The nine officers and five rookies under your control can then be assigned to various districts within the precinct. Each area has its own crimerate and the mere presence of an officer on patrol will tend to reduce the number of crimes committed.

The main screen gives a Sim City-style bird's eye view of the Precinct, complete with roads, buldings and cars, which is remarkably detailed. The city also has a day and night cycle; when it gets dark, the streets light switch on and help illuminate the roads. The 400 citizens in the game are all unique and have their own individual appearance. This helps give the game extra depth and long-lasting appeal.

Each time a crime is committed, the radio operator at Hill Street ralays the information via a scrolling message which appears at the bottom of the screen. To the right of this is a bank of icons which help control the game. With nearly fifty icons to master, this isn't a game you can instantly load up and play; you'll have to actually read the manual (strange, but true!) before you dive in.

There's a useful player's guide included in the manual which takes you through the initial stages of the game if you find the icons too bewildering. After an hour's play, everything should become clear and then the fun can really start,

After arriving at the scene of a crime it's useful to explore the area and question bystanders to see if they match the description of the suspect. When you've decided on a likely villain you can either warn, arrest of shoot them.

It's a good idea to call for back-up from the five rookie officers on patrol, as the presence of reinforcements might make suspects more cooperative. Only get gun happy if you think you've a potentially violent criminal and don't be surprised if he shoots back!

Once a suspect has been arrested, he's taken back to the station, charged and then, if it's a serious crime, sent for trial. The arresting officers must attend the court or else the accused will get off through lack of evidence. The suspect must also be correctly identified or the case will be thrown out. If convicted, previous crimes will also be taken into account and removed from the outstanding case file.

Crimes range from bag-snatching, mugging and pickpocketing through to drug peddling, armed robbery and random murders. There are even serial killers on the loose who are extremely dangerous and will resist arrest at all costs. The more crimes an individual commits without being caught, the more likely they are to commit others.

Things can quickly get out of hand, and the cases pile up. At one point, I had more than 150 unsolved crimes and my popularity was at an all time low - needless to say I got the boot.

Hill Street Blues is a complex and highly enjoyable game which requires careful planning and allocation of resources. The graphics are functional and suit the game perfectly. Although the sprites are extremely tiny, it's still possible to make out individual characters,

The attention to detail is quite staggering - even the police cars' lights flash when the siren is turned on. The in-game sound effects are also noteworthy. Drivers will blast their horns if they get caught up in a traffic jam, cars doors slam when closed and pedestrians emit a strangled shout when shot by police snipers. One of those rare games which you can't put down once you've started to play.


UP HILL STRUGGLE

The hit TV series, Hill Street Blues, focussed on a dedicated group of officers assigned to an early morning shift in one of the worst crime-ridden areas of a big American city. It was much more than a cops 'n' robbers show, often dwelling on the bizarre and comic aspects of patrolling a downtown area populated by a weird rag-tag collection of complete psychos. During its seven year run, the series picked up a smattering of top awards and become notorious for over-shooting its production budgets to become the most-costly TV programme ever made.

Created by Steven Bocho and Michael Kozoll, Hill Street portrayed the underbelly of American society and often dwelt on social issues such as poor housing, prostitution, expensive healthcare and run-down wellfare services. It was also rather good, as any late-night devotee of Channel Four will testify.

Unfortunately, it failed to deliver the mass audiences needed to ensure the series in the tough American TV market and the show was eventually cancelled. Sob, sniffle, snerff!!



Hill Street Blues logo

Ever since an incident with a WPC and a tube of smarties, Paul Lakin has always had a thing about uniforms. (Oh dear Ed.) So we closed his tea with bromide and gave him a cold shower before unleashing him on Krisalis' Hill Street Blues...

There's no doubt that TV police shows have come on a long way sicne the days of Dixon Of Dock Green, Z Cars and the like. Policemen are tougher and crooks are less likely to say: "you got me bang to rights copper" than: "come and get me copper, there's a sawn-off shot gun just waiting for you". More importantly, the theme music has changed. Whereas the Z Cars tune went "Do-de-do de-do-do-do-do", Hill Street Blues is more of a "Duh-do-do duh-do-do duh-do-do-do-do-do-do-de-duh-do-do". An important difference as I'm sure you'll agree.

As well as changes in language and tune there's also been a change in content. In the old days of black Wolseleys and "will you come quietly sire?" programmes used to concentrate on a single case per episode. In these days of a-quick-truncheon-across-the-knee-caps-and-we'll-talk-
about-the-lawyer-later programmers like The Bill and Hill Street Blues tend to be more about day to day station life rather than single cases.

Realism is the order of the day. This 'day in the life' approach of Hill Street Blues has been borne in mind by Krisalis when converting from TV screen to monitor (or, if you can prefer, from programme to program). They have produced a game somewhat in the Sim City mould where you try to maintain law and order on your precinct in the face of the sort of crime wave that would make Dirty Harry take a bath. (Yer wot? Ed.)

You start the game with a blank sheet - no crime, no discontent and no chance of things staying that way. By placing a number of rookie cops you can keep an eye on certain areas but your main work is in crisis response. (Now there's a good American sounding phrase if ever I heard one). There now follows a step by step guide to the chain of events leading from the perpetration of a crime to the bit when you get to throw the criminal in the slammer.

STEP ONE
THE MESSAGE

The first you know of a crime (unless you stumble across a body) is when radio-controller Hill calls all units to the scene of a crime. Then it's time to go to police HQ and click on the computer. There you'll learn the type of crime, ranging from bag snatching to serial killing (the great Sugar Puffs Slaughter ho ho ho... oh please yourselves), and see a photo-fit of the suspect. (Except in the case of a murder when death has somewhat interfered with the key witness's ability to testify). (Can we have less brackets? Ed.) (No.)

STEP TWO
ON THE CASE

By selecting a character from the digitised pictures of all your TV faves (that's faves from Hill Street Blues not form TV in general - sadly you can't ste Paul Daniels on the trail of a psychopathic serial killer such as Sad Eyed Stan The Shreddies Strangler). (Shut up. And stop using all these brackets. Ed.) A quick check on the map will show the scene of the crime and you can send the officer, or officers, hurrying along by car or foot.

STEP THREE
AT THE SCENE

When you arrive at the scene it's time for a nosey round looking for suspects. If the crime is a murder or mugging, your first priority is to find the body and then summon either the coroner or paramedics. After all, the sight of bodies lying around the streets is not likely to fill Joe Public with confidence in your abilities as Chief of Police. Besides which, mugging victims are likely to feel a little hacked off if they have to pick themselves up and hobble all the way home.

STEP FOUR
SUSPICIOUS MINDS

If you're lucky, a prowl round the scene of the crime will reveal a character with arrows pointing at him. Bit of a give away that one, so with barely a pause to say hello (hello hello) you should arrest him. (Unless of course you're a member of the West Midlands Serious Crimes Squad, in which case you'll arrest the first person you come across and beat a confession out of them instead).

In the absence of helpful arrows you might have to do a bit of thinking. Is anyone behaving suspiciously, i.e. lurking in the shadows running away from you or carrying a large bag marked 'swag'? If so, you can radio a description back to HQ, and if it matches any suspects you can make an arrest. Petty criminals tend to come quietly (it's a fair cop guv).

More Macca-ish violent offenders might make a run for it (or pull a gun on you). Fortunately you have the option to open fire and gun them down. If things get really sticky you can even call in the SWAT team and really let fly. This saves you all the hassle of a court case.

STEP FIVE
THE TRIAL

Most petty criminals tend to confess the moment they cross the threshold of the Police HQ. However, your murderer is made of sterner stuff (and can afford a decent lawyer). To get him or her slapped away behind bars you'll need to pull them out of an identity parade and then rely on the vagaries of the jury system to produce the verdict you want.

Now this step by step guide might sound fairly straightforward. "This police lark's a doddle," I hear you cry, "next stop the DA's office." Ah, but this is a description of just one officer dealing with one case.

In Hill Street Blues you're dealing with nine officers. Criminals don't wait for you to solve one crime before getting on with the next. Cases keep piling up faster than you can push a luggage trolley. Even with a few lucky breaks and skilled detective work, unsolved crimes will inevitably outnumber available officers. Repeat offenders will become increasingly confident, crimes will become more serious and if you're not on the ball your job security will become somewhat tenuous.

Amiga reviewPaul: Hey, Hill Street Blues is a pun! Like it's blue as in uniforms and blue as in sad. All these years and I've only just realised. (So much for education. Ed.) Nownthat we've got that little worry out of the way we can get on with looking at the game.

The first thing to say is what an imaginative conversion this is. Many companies, having got their hot little hands on a licence like Hill Street Blues, would have churned out a bog standard shoot 'em up. This is something a bit different, so full marks to Krisalis for that. Well done boys, go to the top of the class.

Of course there are various obvious 'licence' touches such as the theme tune and digitised screens of all the Hill Street characters. I've never actually seen Hill Street Blues,but even without an encyclopaedic knowledge of the programme the game has a lot going for it.

The look and some of the play is very reminiscent of Sim City. Traffic and pedestrians all toddle along in their own merry way, stopping at traffic lights, road blocks (if you're mean enough to set them up) and indulging in crime. The screens are more detailed than Sim City since you can pick out individuals. The viewpoint is at a slight angle so streets are shadowed. If anything the screens are too detailed, since the angle means that you can't see people if they're standing against certain walls.

Once you've got into the swing of things, gameplay is relatively straightforward. It's very easy to get totally involved in the game. The problem is that the more the game (or the crime rate) develops, the more aware you become that it's all a bit slow. The process of sending an officer to the scene of a crime requires you to go through four or five screens. It would also be useful if a message came up telling you when they'd arrived. Instead you have to keep checking up on them while you're trying to control other members of your team.

This slight sluggishness is not, however, enough to spoil the gameplay. Hill Street Blues is an extremely imaginative conversion and, more importantly, a very playable game. A few slight flaws prevent the game reaching the category of excellent but it's a very close run thing.Stop