In a couple of months time hostilities are going to break out between Iran and Iraq again. This may come as a surprise to observers of the Middle East where conflict between Iraq and Israel seems far more likely, but they do not have the benefit of the manual to Persian Gulf Inferno, an indispensable guide to current affairs.
Magic Bytes' proposed scenario for Middle Eastern conflict first surfaced nearly a year ago with a demo which included a number of gentlemen dressed in tablecloths taking control of an oil platform in the Persian Gulf. It looked neat but the finished game bears little resemblance to it. All that remains is, vaguely, the scenario in which a large international oil rig is taken over by a terrorist group known as 'Mashad' (a name which sounds as much like the Israeli Secret Service as anything).
Whatever your feelings about software companies taking such a glib overview of world politics or, worse still, reinforcing racial stereotypes, it is hard to find anything impressive about Persian Gulf Inferno.
The game begins with your hero out on his own with 35 mintues to locate some hostages, find a nuclear device and defuse it. The oil rig is divided into two sections and you begin by some gantry steps.
Take a couple of steps and alarm bells begin to ring - not in the game, but in your head, the echoey clatter of your hero's flat feet sound vaguely reminiscent. Exploring a little should rapidly confirm those suspicions - you are in an Impossible Mission clone.
That Magic Bytes have chosen to base their game on such an old classic may be a recommendation for some, but they have made little attempt to develop the idea.
The robots have been replaced by terrorists, and the furniture by doors. You move between levels using lifts, whilst entering certain rooms will provide you with extra weapons (a shotgun or an Uzi), ammunition and explosive charges.
Persian Gulf Inferno is thoroughly unremarkable. The action is slow and the strategy limited. The game is also complicated by the lack of sound effects for the enemy - you do not hear them firing which makes it easy to take a hit unless you are very careful. Graphically too the game offers little. The characters are small, and whilst everything is neatly drawn, there is little style.
If you are looking for a good Impossible Mission clone, then Vivid Images' Hammerfist is a much better prospect. As a slice of contemporary political bandwagon jumping its timing is good, but then again the Middle East is always going to be a hot spot. That said, there is nothing hot about Persian Gulf Inferno but then reconstituted and reheated matter never is.