Third time lucky for Detroit's finest in

Robocop 3 logo Amiga Computing Gamer Gold

OCEAN * £25.99 * 1 meg recommended * Joystick * Out now

I hate months like this. You wait ages for something good to come along, and then you get about four or five brilliant games in one go. Makes us reviewers look like a right bunch of pillocks, I can tell you. It's all very good fun having loads of great games coming in at once, but it doesn't do our credibility any good.

Just you wait, I bet next month there'll be nothing. Not one good game. But this month we're packed full of Gamer Golds. Typical, innit? Anyway, enough of this selfish journo whining and on to RoboCop 3. And lo and behold, it's brilliant.

It's based around the forthcoming Robocop 3 movie, which has yet to see the light of day either here or in the States. A bit of a first there then, the film licence coming before the film. Of course, this means that we'll all know exactly what happens in the film before it even comes out. The price you pay for entertainment, eh?

Another first is Ocean's pirate-beating 'dongle'. This plugs in to the second joystick port and the game won't work without it. It does mean that two-player games are a bit tricky, but that isn't a problem as this is strictly a one-player affair. The only drawback I can foresee is that the dongle is fairly small. As you'll have to unplug it when you want to play something else, there's a very real danger of either breaking or losing the little fella. So let's be careful, right kids?

And the game is a bit different in other ways as well. Ocean have been teasing us with 3D screenshots for ages now, so we knew all along that RoboCop 3 was going to mark a distinct change in direction for them.
You see, RoboCop 3 takes the form of a true interactive movie. Not like Ocean's ill-fated attempt at a Cinemaware-type affair with Nightbreed, but a proper movie in which you take the role of the eponymous Robo and become embroiled in the usual mix of corrupt corporations and crazy street gangs.

Thanks to a revolutionary new 3D syste, the game feels arcadey but has enough depth to make it anything but run-of--the-mill. And for those impatient ones, you can either plump to play the whole interactive movie gubbins, or play each of the arcade sections separately (which doubles as a handy practice option).

If you go for the movie option, which is the best, then you'll be presented with the now familiar fizzogs of Casey Wong and Jess Perkins. They then churn out the latest news, John Craven style, and this leads you into the game. You know the sort of thing - an ironic and handy scene-setting story about just how buggered up Detroit is, and then a tale about how some crime has been committed and ber-limey, RoboCop happens to be on the scene.

So you switch to RoboCop's steel keks and start driving around Detroit chasing some stolen van or other. A bit like that part in the first tilm, actually. Pretty soon though, you get a message flashing up on your visor to go and help out Officer Anne Lewis who's got herself in a right old mess.

She's being held hostage in an old warehouse by the beastly Splatter-punks. Gasp! So RoboCop drives up, jumps out of his car and stomps inside to rescue her in another display of 3D japery. And so it goes on.

Basically, it's just a series of 3D arcade sections, all interlinked. It's not as repetitive as it sounds though, 'cos the sections range from smooth and fast driving, tense and violent shoot-outs, very tricky jet pack dogfights to a 3D punch up between RoboCop and Otomo, a Japanese RoboNinja. So a fair bit of variety splodged about then.

The real drawing point of RoboCop 3 is the fact that it's the first film tie-in where you actually feel part of the film. Atmosphere. That's the magic word here. Especially during the 'walk around and shoot the bad guys' bits. The caution required to go just around a corner, in case you're confronted by a gun-wielding Splatterpunk, is phenomenal. As a film tie-in, RoboCop 3 plops from a great height on everything else.

The 3D is excellent, with just the right balance between detail and speed. The still screens are absolutely amazing, though, with recognisable characters from the movies and some of the 3D animations overlaid onto them. Just watching RoboCop 3 in action is a treat. Playing it can be a problem to begin with. The driving section is simple enough to control, but navigating around the map can be quite a task at first. Once you get the hang of that you should have no trouble getting to the second arcade sequence which is where the real control problems appear.

When you're indoors you manoeuvre Robo by using his gun sights. So pushing forward on the joystick moves the sights up and Robo starts to move forward. Any move to the left or right makes Robo rotate on his axis until the sight is centred again. This means that upon confrontation with an enemy gunman, precious seconds are spent trying to get Robo facing in the right direction.

This has the unfortunate effect of meaning that you can lose quite a lot of energy before you get a chance to shoot back, or you might even shoot a hostage by accident as you spin around.

The slippery controls can be mastered with practice, but it does mean that the game isn't immediately appealing as it might have been. This is a minor problem though, especially when you consider just how well the game plays as a while. The cinematic feel has been captured well and really makes the game stand out from the usual film tie-in nonsense.

A worthy effort, and a welcome return to form from the past masters of movie licences. Just insert your own RoboCop cliché here to round off the review. Ta.



Robocop 3 logo

Film conversions, lately, have been getting bad press, but here's a movie licence where the only thing it shares with the film is its name. Third time lucky for Ocean?

Robots eh! Like 'em or loathe 'em, but they've been getting bums on seats in cinemas for about the last 40 years or so. It wasn't until Robocop hit the big silver screen in 1987 though, that the world got the first robot with both an attitude and a mission. He appealed to people because (like all the best machines) he was partly a human and thus a terribly nice chap underneath all that chrome, wiring and spandex.

The original Robocop film was always going to be a likely choice for a licence. IT had everything which software houses look for in a cross-over: appeal to kids, technology aplenty, wodges of violence and the likelihood of sequels. So here we are five years down the road with two of the films already consigned to the ¨1-a-week shelf in the video rental shop and the third in the series due for release in this country in the summer.

The first two Robocop games were brought to you by those masters of the game of the film, Ocean. They were both boring and predictable platform games with a bit of shooting and a bit of jumping, so it's not surprising that nobody expected much from Robocop 3. All the more reason then, to be pleased that it's actually a wicked game.

Protect the American way
There are two ways to play Robocop 3, you can play it as a movie adventure or as an action game. The action game is, in essence, a way to practice the different portions of the movie game because you can choose any of five different scenarios which make up the body of the game.

The first two of these involve walking around on foot picking off baddies. The first is a hostage situation in which the OCP (Omni Consumer Products) building has been taken over by a group of terrorists who'll quite happily blow away tonnes of thrusting young executives unless they get a billion knicker in ransom.

These hostages aren't too important, so Robocop can wander around the complex wasting all the bad guys. The second is pretty similar except that you're in the street picking off punks and there are no hostages, just some innocent bystanders.

After being briefed by your helmet computer, the view switches to a 3D representation of the building with your cross-hairs floating on the screen. These are used both to sight your gun and to control where you move, mainly because wherever you point Robo's Magnum, he'll wander.


The first games were boring and predictable, so it's not surprising that nobody expected much from Robocop 3. All the more reason then, to find it's a wicked game.

Usually the first sign of trouble is the sound of gunfire and a drop in your efficiency rating at the top left of the screen. You start off with 99 per cent and depending on how many civilians you accidentally bump off and how many times you take a hit, your score drops. When it hits a zero you're dead.

Every time that yo take a hit your visor display goes a bit dodgy and crackles like a detuned television. All of this makes it a tad harder to zero in on the next enemy and unleash a few bullets at his torso. Life is made ven harder still because the difference between a civilian and the enemy is only a pair of raised hands, thus making it very easy to ruin your efficiency rating.

Uphold the right to wield a gun
The stalking around corridors with your cross-hair ready is an extremely atmospheric experience. Moody music whispers away in the background and your concentration level is high because you never know just where the next bad buy could be lurking. To make things even better, your Robocop moves like the real article. If you remember the film, you'll know that for Robo to turn to face a target he slowly rotates his upper body, then zeros in on the target with his head and finally fires. You'll find yourself doing exactly the same kind of thing, with Robocop's built-in highlighting the bad guys with a flash screen.

This feeling of tenseness isn't just restricted to the hostage stage. For the third situation you have to hop into a police-car and attempt to bring a halt to a rash of GTAs (Grand Theft Autos). Robo's approach to all this is a trifle OTT because it consists mainly of ramming the perps off the road with your patrol car. Judge Dredd would be proud of you.

The 3D graphics in the driving section are top notch. They're detailed, colourful and move extremely quickly. What's more, Robocop's patrol car moves realistically. You really do get a feeling of weight from throwing it around corners and the inclusion of a reverse gear makes the whole section a real blast to play. Just when you think you've mastered ramming a sports car off the road, you find out that you've got to deal with terrorists firing guns at you as well.

Batman doesn't have all the best toys. Oh dear me no, Robocop's got a few spiffy inventions of his own, just ready for a good field test. One of these is the basis of the fourth scenario, the gyropack section. In this game Robocop takes to the air and scraps the military in a very Rocketeer influenced game. This is one of the hardest parts of the game to master, you're not going to be able to master the gyropack in one day.

The final scenario pits Robocop against a super-android. The vicious android is actually a ninja robot who enjoys nothing better than whacking tired Robocops with his sabre. In order to beat this chappy you're going to need a tough, tough game plan.

Serve the migthy dollar
So how do the parts hand together and do they meld well into a whole game? Yes, they do. Few games will make you concentrate quite as hard as Robocop 3 does. You see, it's got that wonderfully tense feel to it which games like Silent Service and Aliens (the American version) had aplenty.

If the game gets at all frustrating, then you're probably half way to understanding why Robocop gets so miffed all the time. The stalk 'n' slash sections on foot are particularly hard, because even if you carefully peek around the corner of a corridor, you can still guarantee that some guy is going to pepper your tin bott with a few well-chosen rounds of dum-dum bullets.

If you elect to play the movie game then you'll get to see some top-notch animations. These link together the sub-games with a plot that's actually interesting, which is no mean feat for a computer game. They include a flying Robocop, a driving Robocop and an android scrapping Robocop.

It's a rarity and a joy to write about a film licence which actually works as a game. The boys at Digital Image Design have done a wonderful job for Ocean, despite never actually seeing the film. Licences can be fun, they can be original and most of all they can be playable. Miracles can (indeed) happen.


LET'S HAVE A LOOK AT YOUR DONGLE!

Robocop 3's got a surprise lurking within its box. Inside you will encounter a widget which goes by the rather dubious name of a dongle. This wonderful device is meant to stop all you naughty punters priating this terrific game.

What happens is you attach the little black device into the joystick ports and then load the game. If the dongle isn't present then the game won't load. Now, some chaps might try hacking into the game and removing te bits of code which search for the dongle. However, Ocean tell us that it will take even a good programmer months and months to hack all the bits out.

Life for all the skull-and-crossbones fans isn't going to get any easier either. You see, in the future, programmers will entwine dongle code with the actual game code as they write it. This means you will have more luck actually rewriting the game than trying to remove dongle-checking code references.

Let's hope these security measures stamp out piracy. Then maybe all Amiga owners will have to pay for their games - like the millions of cartridge owners already taking over the games market. Stop pirating or risk seeing your computer disappear favour of consoles. You have been warned. 15 seconds to comply.



Robocop 3 logo

Das ist Tempo, das nennt man Dynamik: Jetzt erscheinen die Filmumsetzungen schon, bevor der Film selbst in den Kinos zu sehen war! Wenn das so weitergeht, dürfen wir uns wahrscheinlich bald auf die ersten Leinwandkonvertierungen erfolgreicher Computerspiele gefaßt machen...

Doch Oceans dritter Blechbulle ist gottlob in praktisch jeder Hinsicht ein recht flottes Kerlchen, auch in spielerischer! Während sein unmittelbarer Vorgänger noch das übliche Filmversoftungs-Mischmasch aus Plattformaction und Hochgeschwindigkeits-Tüftelei zu bieten hatte, gibt's diesmal zwei säuberlich getrennte Unterspiele - zum einen das "Arcade Game", zum anderen das "Movie Adventure".

Beiden gemeinsam ist die Präsentation in 3D-Vektorgrafik, die teilweise mit herkömmlicher Pixelgrafik hinterlegt wurde. Auch inhaltlich ist der Unterschied zwischen den beiden Spielen bei weitem nicht so groß, wie die Anleitung behauptet: er besteht nämlich in erster Linie darin, daß man im Arcade-Teil die verschiedenen Aufgaben direkt auswählen kann, während sie im Filmabenteuer immer schön der reihe nach gelöst werden müssen.

So oder so sieht sich Robobobby diesmal der Gelben Gefahr gegenüber: Japaner wollen seine Herstellerfirma übernehmen, sollte sich unser Held nicht bewähren, wird er kurzerhand durch Robot-Ninjas ersetzt. Dementsprechend stehen saftige Duelle mit so einem asiatischen Blechhaufen an, daneben gibt's allerlei Autoverfolgungsjagden. Straßenkämpfe, Geiselbefreiungen, und sogar fliegen darf man hier ausgiebig.

Den Flugsequenzen ist am deutlichsten anzumerken, daß das Programm von Digital Image Design entwickelt wurde, also jenen Leuten, die schon "F-29 Retaliator" gemacht haben(aha, kein Wunder, daß "Epic" so lange auf sich warten läßt!). Tatsächlich bekommt man hier denn auch einen "richtigen" Flugsimulator geboten, der sich nur in der wesentlich einfacheren Bedienung von seinen "ernsthaften" Kollegen unterscheidet.

Aber ansonsten ist (fast) alles wie gewohnt, sprich, man hat allerlei Waffen und Außenansichten zur Verfügung, es darf auf die verschiedensten Luft- und Bodenziele (Helis, Panzer, etc.) geballert werden - bloß abschmieren kann der Vektor-Blechbulle kaum, was ja nicht unbedingt ein Nachteil ist.

Sollte unser Lieblingsandroide dann mal in sein Auto steigen, glaubt man zunächst in "Test Drive" gelandet zu sein: besonders wegen des sehr ähnlichen Cockpits. Aber das täuscht, in Wirklichkeit sind die Verfolgungsjagden weit eher mit "Chase HQ" zu vergleichen. Denn auch hie schubst man seine Gegner durch wiederholte Karambolagen kampfunfähig, der Gebrauch von Schußwaffen ist im Straßenverkehr dagegen verpönt. Dafür hat man wiederum diverse Außenansichten und ein Radar, was angesichts der meist besser motorisierten Feinde auch absolut notwendig ist - Abkürzungen durchs Gelände gehören einfach zum kleinen Einmaleins des erfolgreichen Gangsterjägers!

Des öfteren muß der Held auch in Gebäude einsteigen, um dort irgendwelche geheimnisvollen Terroristen zu erledigen. Warum die bösen Buben eigentlich so böse sind, läßt sich anhand der sparsamen (deutschen) Anleitung kaum rauskriegen; aber das macht auch gar nicht so viel aus, denn im Spiel selbst halten die Guten (Geiseln, Spaziergänger) immer gleich die Hände hoch. Wer die Pfoten unten läßt, ist zum Abschuß freigegeben - so einfach ist das.

Vom Gameplay muß man sich die "Gebeudereinigungsszenen" ungefähr wie eine Mixtur aus "Castle Master", "Corporation" und "Operation Fieselschweif" vorstellen, falls Ihr damit etwas anfange könnt. Fehlen noch die Duelle mit dem Roboter-Ninja: Dabei sieht man das Geschehen ausnahmsweise nicht durch die AUgen des Helden, sondern ganz normal, wie sonst auch, von der Seite. Der besondere Clou und gleichzeitig das Hauptproblem bei diesem Kämpfen ist die technische Überlegenheit des Blech-Schlitzauges.

Abhilfe: Man muß diesen Vorteil halt durch eine bessere (Stellungs-) Kampftechnik ausgleichen...

Bewertungsmäßig ist Robocop 3 eine durch und durch zwiespältige Angelegenheit. Einerseits ist die grafische Präsentation sehr aufwendig, so wird man z.B. in die einzelnen Missionen immer von zwei (TV-) Nachrichtensprechern eingeführt, und die Vektorgrafik ist superschnell; anderseits hätte etwas weniger Tempo und dafür etwas mehr Detail sowohl der Optik als auch der Spielbarkeit gut getan. Beim Sound dasselbe - gute Musik (Maniacs of Noise) und sehr durchwachsene Effekte. Das gleiche in grün gilt für die Steuerung (Joy, Tasten, Maus), beim Fliegen und Autofahren klappt sie hervorragend, während die Gebäude und Duelle zumindest sehr gewöhnungsbedürftig sind.

Überhaupt hinterläßt Robocop 3 einen recht gemischten Eindruck: vom Konzept her absolut zukunftsweisend, in der Ausführung stellenweise etwas schlampig. Zum Beispiel müssen die drei Disks permanent gewechselt werden, es sei den, jemand hätte ein Drittlaufwerk (und 1MB Speicher wäre sicher auch nicht verkehrt). Noch schlimmer ist, daß sich der beiliegende Kopierschutz-Dongle bei einem 2000er nicht anschließen läßt - hier ist einfach das Gehäuse im Weg! Naja, wo viel Licht ist... (mm)



Robocop 3 logo

Right at the very tail end of 1991 came an astounding game, one that found new uses for solid 3D, and redefined our ideas of film licences...

There's one big problem doing computer game magazines at Christmas. None of the big games are ever ready - or, at least, ready if you insist on reviewing finished versions as we do (© Quick Digs At Other Mags Inc) - in time for review in the pre-Christmas issues, so poor punters (like you) have to buy effectively blind, hoping that this or that big name is really as good as the software house responsible hopes you think it is. There's not much we can do about it, I'm afraid.

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER, I GUESS

That being the case, you'll probably already know that a) RoboCop 3 comes with a 'free' and okay-ish hologram of the Delta City dick in the box, b) that it uses a special Electronic Key (or 'dongle') which you need to link to your computer before you can load the game up at all (the latest in high tech protection devices from Ocean), and c) that - hurrah! - the game's actually rather good. Bloody good in fact - arguably the best full price release Ocean have had in over a year, and a ground breaking product in its own right. More on that later.

First off though - and sorry about this Ocean - a bit of a whinge. The first one is to do with the dongle. Apart from a half-hearted sticker on the front and a scrappy piece of paper inside the box it doesn't mention the damn thing anywhere in the packaging, particularly the instruction manual where the loading instructions are exactly the same as for a normal game.

Let's just hope nobody tries to load Robo 3 from the instructions given in the manual (where it not only fails to mention that you have to put this funny metal-and-plastic thing in your joystick port, but also refers to 'Disk A' and 'Disk B' when the things you get in the box are quite clearly labeled Disks 1, 2, and 3!). End of whinge.


The best full price release Ocean have had in over a year, and a ground breaking product in its own right

The game, then. For starters, you can forget about the film. Yes, the game does have some plot similarities - particularly the fights with a superpowered Japanese ninja robot sent to test his mettle against our hero - but beyond that it's anybody's guess as to whether this really provides an experience similar to the movie or not.

And frankly, who cares anyway? The staff at programmers DID have apparently never seen the Frank Miller-scripted flick, and managed to get only the minimum of movie stills to look at for visual reference during the course of development, while publishers Ocean have made no attempt to tie the release in with the film's arrival in this country.

Linking things tightly to the film seems to have been of low priority with everyone concerned. 'About time too!' it's tempting to comment when one remembers the low standard of recent movie games - to all intents and purposes what we have here is a totally original product, and it should be treated as such.

Don't trust a quick synopsis of the game then. A quick glance at what would have you think this is built up of five sub-games in the established Ocean film game tradition, but nothing could be more deceiving. Yes, there are five distinct sub games - two of them shoot-'em-ups, one a beat-'em-up, plus driving and flying sections - but these aren't what you'd expect. Instead of some sort of platform effort these are solid 3D constructions - and fast, smooth 3D at that. They're not linear either - y which I mean, you aren't forced to perform tasks in a set order, but can wander around at will - so perhaps comparing them to the missions you get in flight sims would be more appropriate than likening them to the sequences in Batman The Movie or whatever.

SOLID 3D WITH ADDED SOUL
It's rarely, if ever, that 3D has be used so effectively to depict anything other than high-tech weaponry either. Instead of appearing soulless and rather lacking in character - surely factors that prevented The Assembly Line's Cybercon III from being a bigger hit than it was - this very effectively plunges you directly into RoboCop's world. With this and F-29 Retaliator (a very shoot-'em-uppy flight sim) behind them. DiD seem determined to take solid 3D out of the realms of po-faced, 'serious' simulations, and into the more mainstream action arena, and in their hands the style seems to be taking to it like a duck to water.

The individual sub games, then, we'll deal with in a separate side-bar. Before we do that though we've first got to mention the presentation, which is, to make no bones about it, seriously excellent. The music is the first thing that hits you - moody, repetitive and quite simply brilliant. It sets the scene, it builds tension throughout the game - getting fast and more desperate as Robo's power fades - occasionally cutting out for silent patches, then building up again, sometimes even managing to act as an ironic counterpoint (something I remember, or think I remember, from film crit classes) to the on-screen action.

Music rarely gets much of a mention in AMIGA POWER reviews, so to justify a whole paragraph it must be something, eh?

That's only the beginning of it though. From the film-like titles to the disk swapping messages (for crying out loud!) the look and feel of the game is supremely atmospheric. In achieving this DiD have been helped by the look of the films, of course - the first two, and no doubt the third too, are constantly punctuated by sequences seen through RoboCop's own eyes, with gunsights flicking on and off, computer messages flashing across his visor and so on, and DiD reproduce this look to great effect.

In the sequences where you see things from Robo's points of view - and through the external views are nice to look at, they're not really very playable - these visor messages usefully hold information about energy levels and so on, but DiD take the RoboCop look a step or two further. When RoboCop gets shot, the screen goes crackly and static-ridden for a moment, the controls failing to respond while his systems recover. When he crashes the car his windscreen smashes, bullet holes crack the glass, and thin lines flick across the entire visual display. These are tricks that worked superbly in the film, and do equally well here too, truly putting you in RoboCop's size 11 cast-iron shoes.

The main storytelling trick of the films, of course, was the TV news bulletins that constantly punctuated the action. And what do you know but the game uses them too - Jess Perkins and Casey Wong, our friendly Mediabreak hosts, introducing the sections of the game and commentating on the action. While they're a nice touch to the various individual action sequences, Jess and Casey really come into their own in the Interactive Movie version of the game where they help move the action along quite nicely.

Ah yes, I haven't mentioned that yet, have I? You see, perhaps the most important thing about the game is that it can be played in two ways. First up you have the Arcade Action option. This allows you to play each of the game's five main sequences as a stand alone mission, with its own plot line and objectives.


It's rarely, if ever, that 3D has be used so effectively to depict anything other than hi-tech weaponry

ROBOCOP 3 - GRAPHIC & NOVEL
This is fun as a training exercise and great for the impatient (like me), but things really start moving if you opt to play the while thing as one big adventure instead. Here you get essentially the same sequences, but with more characters, different baddies, and attached to a solid, if much-twisting, plot line.

Those familiar with the comics work of film scriptwriter Frank Miller (Batman: The Dark Knight, Elektra: Assassin, Give Me Liberty, etc.) will have some idea of the sort of story elements you'll encounter - the Japanese buy-out of OCP, the company that runs Detroit; the rise of the ultraviolent 'splatterpunk' gangs, mercenaries from some futuristic Amazon war zone brought in as even-more-violent special police; social injustice on a massive scale; rival ninja robots on the rampage and so on.

In game terms it all moves at a cranking pace, and happily allows the player some degree of freedom in the order he executes his various tasks - you can abandon any one particular mission and go off to do something else at pretty much any point in the game, and your doing this will effect in some small way what the baddies do and how the plot unfolds. It comes closer to the concept of an interactive movie than anything we've seen yet - perhaps even more than things like Another World because it allows you more freedom of movement.

There's little else to say really, except what a great game. In two ways it's phenomenal - as a way of depicting a film in game form it simply eclipses all that's gone before, and as a way of using solid 3D to depit something other than hi-tech planes it breaks new ground too. Buy it unless (as its high Christmas chart placing would suggest) you've actually gone out and done so already.


CAR WARS, ROBO-STYLE
The life of a patrol man is not an easy one (even if you are made of metal) - the driving sequence from Robo 3...
Robocop 3: First Person Perspective Driving View

1 See what we mean? We barely get out on the road and some people took pot shots at our windscreen here. Yikes!

2 This scrolling map thing down here is super-duper dunky dory useful. It gives you the layout of the main roads in the central part of Detroit, building up to form a maze you play your games of automotive cat-and-mouse on. One dot is you, the other's whichever baddie you're pursuing, but beware! Keep your eye on this too long and you may plough right into another car!

3 Flashing lights and whizzy dials might look very nice - the only one that actually does anything is the speedo. Here you can see how fast your going - not in actual mph, but as a proportion of the 360 degrees of the dial. (If the arrow is pointing to the right you know you're going quite fast!)

4 Enemy truck ahead! That door you see opening up there is about to reveal men with machine guns! (The same ones who are responsible for the holes in your windscreen already). Watch out - even RoboCop can't take too much of that sort of punishment!

5 Here's your steering wheel - your mouse controls the white dot near the top, while you accelerate with one mouse button, brake/reverse with the other.

6 This signpost says 'toll'. That's because there's a toll bridge coming up - try and make it through without taking half of the car of on a toll booth in the process!

7 Score - useless; efficiency - useless. Oh dear, we're not doing too well, are we?

OP WOLF, ROBOCOP STYLE - YOU'VE NEVER SEEN A DUCK SHOOT LIKE THIS!
We're in bog-standard mode at the moment - looking out through RoboCop's eyes if you like - and this is what we can see. Those messages play across the inside of his visor.
Robocop 3: First Person Perspective Shooting View

1 These crosshairs have two uses - when walking, you move in the direction you point them in, when shooting your bullets go straight for the intersection of the cross.

2 3D office furniture and so on its realistic - you can't walk through it, for instance - and helps build up the impression of a realistic 3D world.

3 There are numerous bad guys hiding at the back here - shoot 'em Robo! (And keep your eyes peeled for any who might sneak up and attack you from just outside your range of vision too).

4 Leave this guy alone though - he's a completely innocent hostage.

THOSE FIVE ROBOCOP 3 SUB-GAMES IN FULL

DRIVING
The first section you come to in the Movie version of the game, this puts you behind the wheel of a squad car on a mission that takes place around the streets of Detroit. The play area is impressively large - a network of wide interstates and smaller roads dotted with buildings, road signs, other cars and distinctive landmarks (like toll gates and the police headquarters).

Whether you're playing this as an individual mission or part of the larger story, RoboCop must react fast to the missions given him. One minute he'll be pursuing a stolen vehicle down the highway, the next a van load of terrorists armed with machine guns. The car is fast and steering (fairly) easy to master, while a neat little map of the streets mounted in his centre console allows you to follow the baddies around the map.

Generally a very atmospheric rendition of driving round a city at night - good enough to rank as one of the year's better driving games, despite the fact that it's only one element of a larger product.

STREET FIGHT
One of two fairly similar shoot-'em-up sequences, a 3D walk round a maze of back streets (effectively narrow corridors in the main), shooting vicious 'splatterpunks' and leaving innocent civilians well alone. It's vaguely reminiscent of walking down the corridors of Cybercon III (or Probe's new Alien III game), but perhaps better than both - the dark streets, shadowy environment and chance of danger lurking around every corner work extremely well, while the actual action - quickly moving your on-screen cross hairs into a position where they're aimed at an aggressor, then blasting them (often between arms or legs of innocent civilians, as seen in the first film) - is as exciting as any ten Operation Wolf games, which it vaguely resembles.

It's easy to get lost, despite the impressively detailed nature of the individual streets and walls, but heading in the direction that the majority of baddies seem to be coming from generally seems to do the trick. Quite simply, a great shoot-'emup.

HOSTAGE SITUATION
Very similar to the street fight mission, only here your innocents are hostages (they're the ones standing with their hands up), while your surroundings are of the potted plants and computer terminals variety, as found in any large office building. Booby trapped doorways, grenade throwing terrorists and neat lift rides (you walk into the elevator, shoot the up arrow, and you're onto the next floor!) add to the feeling of menace. Just like Die Hard!

FLYING
Without having seen the film I found the idea of a RoboCop flight sim slightly hard to imagine but here it is and it works a treat. The area you get to buzz around - massive jet pack attached to your back - is fairly small, and getting shot down is exceptionally easy, but nipping between the towering sky scrapers of the Detroit city centre isn't something you're going to forget in a hurry. Perhaps the sequence of the game that made least impression on me, but that doesn't mean it's bad.

CLOSE QUARTER COMBAT
Now this really is Frank Miller stuff - Robocop and Otomo, an incredibly acrobatic ninja robot, must fight it out to the death. Robo has a range of clunky beat-'em-up moves and the opportunity to use this gun (high speed was never one of our hero's great virtues) while Otomo leaps about like a mad thing. Set in Detroit (as the film is) it's tempting to see this as some sort of ironic comment on the decline of the US motor industry - Robo, a big, chunky Buick of a cyborg, quite literally getting rings run around him by te 16-valve, turbocharged Otomo (But, erm, maybe not).



Robocop 3 logo

With the stench of victory still pungent in his sensors, that towering metallic monolith, Robocop, is back in an arcade movie-adventure that's so fresh you could vacuum pack it and stock it in Tesco. Robocop 3, the game, is unique in the fact that it will hit these shores whilst the film is still in Detroit buying its plane ticket. And that's OK by programming team D. I. D., as in their opinion the game far outstrips any action the film has to offer.

OCP, the security and construction giants, are desperate to get work underway on their new project, Delta City. They have hired a ruthless group of mercenaries, the Rehabs, lead by the psychotic McDagart, to drive the people out and make way for the corporate bulldozers.

Reluctant to leave their homes, the inhabitants form a resistance group to fight off the marauders and protect their homes. When news breaks that the Resistance have reprogrammed an ED209 and used it to break into the police armoury, Robocop is dispatched to the scene to apprehend the escaping perps.

The preliminary section is a screaming car chase through the detailed 3D environment of Old Detroit pursuing the criminals in your standard issue Turbo Cruiser. Their speeding van is targeted on a road map on the dashboard of your car. Avoiding oncoming vehicles, Robo must cut the van off and ram it until it crashes.

Things aren't that easy, though, as the van has a good head start and you have to make use of every straight stretch of road so you can slam into turbo to catch up. Any close contact with the van, and a rather miffed resistance fighter swings out from the side to pepper your windshield with bullets. Get too close at the back and the doors fly open and riddle Robocop with more of the same.

The gameplay can be viewed from up to 10 camera angles, using the F keys, some of which are quite spectacular as they pan around in the action in a circus fashion. Unfortunately, it is virtually impossible to play any of these modes as the difficulty in judgement involved makes it far too hard to complete. However, it doesn't detract from the beauty of the scrolling and makes it a worthy addition..

Some of the camera modes kick into action automatically when something special happens so panicky button pushing is slightly reduced.

During the chase section, the game throws up one of its most interesting features. A message comes through to you that your partner Lewis has been trapped in an alleyway by a gang of bloodthirsty Splatterpunks. This means that you have to chose between saving her life or pursuing the rebels. This theme crops up throughout the game and whatever course of action you take at these junctions will affect the running of the adventure.

Robocop is also bound by his programming directives: (1) To serve the public trust and (2) Protect the innocent. Often he will be faced by conflicting missions. In one instance, he is in a church and the resistance have taken flight down the sewers whilst the Rehabs have surrounded the building. When he arrives the church is actually full of women and children. Does he protect the innocent and shoot it out with the rehabs? Or does he blast the crowd and pursue the rebels?

From a technical point of view, one of the most accomplished sections of the game is a 3D beat 'em up involving Robocop and a Japanese droid called Atomo. Again, a number of different viewpoints can be taken and the polygonic battle is certainly worth a good bash at even if Robo is a little slow to react in this state.

For me, however accomplished the nice effects are, the corridor section, with Robo tracking the rebels, was one of the most interesting. Depending on which directive you are following, Robo searches the maze of rooms and halls, dispatching all the aggressors that try to hinder him. The villains are animated shadowy figures armed to the teeth with firearms and grenades.

Slightly reminiscent of Operation Wolf, you must pick off the creeps with an extremely accurate cross-hair and watch as their splattered remains fall to the floor. The splatter that your shots cause is highly entertaining and the silhouetted computer targeting is very effective. Additionally, some villains throw incendiaries at you which must be shot whilst others use hostages as shields so that you never know who is around the corner.

The accidental killing of an innocent seriously reduces your efficiency percentage which, if below 30%, causes malfunction and eventual shut down.

Also at Robocop's command is a Gyropack. This is certainly one of the most enjoyable missions in the game as our alloy hero dons the pack and jets off into a war zone complete with ED209s, tanks and heavy artillery. All the action takes place around an industrial complex protected from the air by helicopters. This is the only place in the game where Robo has any choice in weapons and his trusty gun can be traded in for a large bore cannon and smart bombs. Believe me, he needs them as flying over all the hardware on the ground attracts all manner of attention. Huge 3D helicopters buzz and fire at you whilst ground attack forces launch wave after wave of flak into the sky.

It's a good idea to clear the skies first before diving into the building complex and destroying the support vehicles. Ducking in and out of the skyscrapers, twisting through the factories, dodging bullets and opening up on the huge walkers makes this the highlight of the game and the third dimension is thoroughly exploited.

All aspects of the game are repeated in the Arcade section, but involve different tasks such as the Street Fight where the city is plagued by punks and Robocop has to apply his special brand of justice. There's also a hand-to-hand combat stage where you can practise the arts against a robotic ninja and a driving sequence where car theft has reached epidemic proportions.

Robocop 3 is a polished peace of programming that tries its best to be varied and original. However I still question its lastability. There is no denying what's there is pretty good, but, as far as I can fathom, there are only four game styles and with the exception of the Gyropack section these are quite limited. The game comes on three disks and D.I.D. Tell us that there's an extra special surprise upon completion. It's great to see something that steers away from the normal Ocean licence, and Robocop 3 deserves a look.


HAVE A BREAK...
Media Breaks are positioned throughout the game and provide the introduction to the Movie section. Information about the days top stories and RObocop's progress are presented in a mixture of text, with two Amiercan newscasters as backdrops, and splendid 3D animations providing an atmospheric link into the actual game zones.
TWO-IN-ONE
Split into two sections Robocop 3 boasts two distinctive playing styles. The first is the full Movie Adventure incorporating virtually the whole story-line from the third film. The second is the Arcade Game which allos you to access all the elements of the full version, but through different scenarios.


Robocop 3 logo Zero Hero

"Review Robocop 3," said ED 209. "Shan't," said David 'Foolish' Wilson. "You have ten seconds to comply!" "Er..." "Nine... eight" "Um..." "Seven," (fishing P45 from top drawer), "Oh, alright then."

Everyone's favourite mincing bobby is back. The original Robocop was one of the biggest-selling computer titles to date and deservedly so. It was followed up by Special FX's Robocop 2 - a well-executed but predictable licence,and now Ocean has entrusted Digital Image Design (the geezers behind the chart-topping F29) to bring you the third installment in the Roboplod saga. And guess what? Yep, it's a complete break from the usual Ocean film-licensing tradition.

Taking the plot of the forthcoming movie due out next Easter, DID have built up a series of filled-vector 3D games each tied to the film's main elements. As well as playing the movie, however, you'll also get the choice of just playing an arcade game. This offers five separate sub-games each derived from sequences in the movie.

Choosing the arcade game, you'll see the familiar Mediabreak newscaster with a choice of 'Tonight Headlines'- each being the title of a sub-game. There's the 'Terrorists Hijack OCP Tower' (a first-person perspective shoot-out), 'Crazed Punks Terrorize Neighbourhood' (another shooting-gallery number), 'Police Strike - Stolen Vehicle Epidemic' (a driving/chasing/ramming game), 'Robocop Gyropack Trials' (a jet-pack flying game), and 'Android - Cyborg Duel' (an arcade battle between Robocop and Otomo).

For the Movie, the Mediabreak news team will fill you in on the scenario. They tell you about an ED 209 going berserk and helping rebels rob the armoury, and that Officer Lewis is in pursuit. Robocop is, too, and after more atmospheric animated sequences you're into the first game-game. It transpires that Lewis has come to grief - she crashes and is kidnapped by splatter punks. You've now got two objects - ram the armoured van and rescue Lewis. When you go for Lewis you find that your car gets shot up. Cue animation of Robocop emerging from smoke-filled screen.

Next you're into a first-person perspective shooting section Your gunsight consists of moving X and Y axis that vectors in on the targets. Some are legitimate, some are innocents or surrendering terrorists. Just make sure you hit the right ones, or you'll be terminated. From here on in, the action switches to encompass more shoot-out action, a jet-pack battle against an army of tanks and ED209s - eight action setpieces in total. Being in 3D, each section has a plethora of external views - including movable views and preset cameras, and in the car you'll also get views to the left and right.

ROBOPLOT 3
Right, I'm now going to tell you a bit about the plot of the movie. Um... but I don't really want to spoil it for you. So read it after Easter 1992. Okay? No peeking now. Right... Happy Easter.

Robo 3 opens where the second film closed - with OCP building the Delta City project. In order to 'persuade' the residents of the old town to move out, OCP employs an army of mercenaries, the Rehabs - to use intimidation and violence to clear the way for the new construction. This is all covered up, of course, and the increased crime - largely penetrated by splatter punks - is used as an excuse for the Rehabs presence.

To protect themselves, the citizens form a resistance force. Robocop starts out combating the rebels, but soon finds himself facing a contradiction in his prime directives - Upholding The Law and Protecting The Innocent.

When Robocop finds himself with the task of clearing out a church full of rebel women and children, it's make your mind up time. You'll face this dilemma in the game. In the background, the shady Japanese firm Kanemetsu is buying up OCP. After Robocop's meddling against the company's interest, this leads to a further challenge to his existence. The Japanese have their own robotic law-enforcer - Otomo, a ninja assassin who's sent to shut down the steel Peeler once and for all. The two are pitted against one another in a duel to the death. Gad! Oi! Wait a minute... you've been peeking! Right, well I'm not going to tell you any more info, so nerr.

Amiga reviewDavid: After throwing away huge licences like Total Recall and Terminator 2 with predictable and oh-so-average platform shoot 'em ups, Robocop 3 is a massive, Lenor springtime-fresh breath of air. It is a collection of sub-games, but there's nothing sub-standard about them - they don't even feel like sub-games because the whole thing gels so well.

The interleaving animated screens help to create this impression. The games value-for-money soars with the inclusion of the arcade game in addition to the movie conversion. And no, the arcade game isn't what you'd expect - the arcade bit's pulled out of the movie sequence. But in fact three new stand-alone sub-games come complete with their own scenarios based on the movie arcade sections.

The graphics and sound are both very special, and being 3D you've got a host of external views at your disposal. It's a real shame that these views are of little practical use. You can really look at them when you're out of danger. Trying to drive in a straight line while viewing yourself from a three-quarters-on stationary camera is not recommended.

These views would really come into their own with a replay facility which, due to memory limitations, isn't included. DID obviously came in for quite a bit of stick over the collision detection in F29, and as a consequence a great deal of attention has been focussed on this aspect. In the shoot-out section, when terrorists hide behind hostages, there's nothing more impressive or satisfying than blasting away the bad guy by homing-in on the fraction of his head appearing over the innocent's shoulder.

The game is pitched at a challenging level, but if you're of an impatient nature or you're finding it too tricky, then the arcade section provides you with a taster of what lies ahead. The weakest of the sub-games for me was the ninja beat 'em up, but the others more than compensate. And that's Robo 3, in a nutshell.
Great atmosphere, great value, great sound, great graphics and a cracking good film conversion. Buy it - you'll be so glad you did. Stop


CROSS DRESSING
Everyone expected Robo 3 to be another view-from-the-side horizontal shoot 'em up, and Ocean and DID deserve commending for having the courage to break the mould. But now the precedent has ben established, what are the connotations for future conversions? ZERO pontificates...
Robocop 3: George Formby GEORGE FORMBY IN 'ME TARZAN, UKELELE'
"It's turned out nice hasn't it?" says a digitized George in the polished animated intro sequence to this new film conversion. The lovely cheeky chappie plays a humble shop assistant who catches wind of a dastardly plot to steal the Crown Jewels. He also meets a rather nice young lady he would love to court but falls foul of the bobbies when he borrows a bicycle to chase the villains. Cue an enormous Dungeon Master-style RPG romp where you as George work your way through an underground maze viewed from first-person perspective.
Robocop 3: Hannibal Lector SILENCE OF THE LAMBS
This adventurous new conversion of everyone's favourite tale of serial killing and cannibalism features the cutest of cutesy sprites romping about in a multi-world packed with platforms. Armed with a magic touch that attaches steel facila-restrainers to the nasties you encounter, bouncy bunny Clarice embarks on a race against time to capture big meanie Buffalo Bill before he hurts the lambikins.