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There is more to the Germans than BMWs, Apfel Strudel, big sausages and wicked beer. They also make some cracking games, as Rob Mead discovers.

The helicopter has been something of a tour de fource in 1993,m what with the brilliant Desert Strike, the fantastic Gunship 2000, and the slightly less impressive Firehawk. Noel Edmonds has still got his, I think; and Leonardo Da Vinci almost invented it. And Guns 'n' Roses go to concerts in them, apart from when they go by bus. Or by limousine.

Next up is Vision Software's Seek and Destroy, a blast-em-to-smithereens affair. Four different terrains (desert, water, snow and jungle) and a heap of missions are on offer in this easy-to-complete number.

I am lying actually. This game is not easy. I have got a fax from Vision headed 'Hints and Tips'. At the bottom of the sheet it states: "Everyone at Vision has been able to complete all 15 missions and continue playing for points". Fair enough, they wrote it, but they are so matter-of-fact about it, I have not seen sight nor sound of snow or jungle. So this is a shoot-em-up that will keep you in business for some time.

Seeking the folk that you must destroy is achieved by using the radar which is permanently on the tail of the chopper. Coloured dots represent the different enemies which include 'copters, tanks and ships. Buildings are yellow (not scared, yellow dots, I mean). There is also a built-in map screen which you can refer to in times of need - in my case this was constantly.

Tactical manoeuvres
Seek and Destroy has a two-player simultaneous mode. One player flies the chopper while the other acts as a gunner, using a joystick from the other port. It is also possible to play in two-player mode on your own using a joystick in one hand, and bashing away on a mouse or stick with the other (if you are a bit clever, unlike me).

There is a decent array of weaponry at hand, accessed using F1 to F6 on the keyboard (if you are ambitious - you need three hands) including interceptor and ground missiles, nicely complemented with a generous helping of napalm bombs.

Some enemy buildings, when blown to pieces, reveal pick-ups which replenish either fuel, shield or weaponry. Trouble is, you have to land to acquire them and often, you face a barrage of fire when attempting to do so. But no matter, practice makes perfect (and practice, you will need to).

Slick and smart
But do not be put off by the difficulty of Seek and Destroy. It is very slick and well presented, with smart graphics, and dandy kabooms and 'Return to base' sound effects. When used with an A1200 or A4000, it recognises the AGA chips and automatically enhances both the graphics and sound by some four times.

The scrolling is super smooth and the chopper easy to manoeuvre; and when you are spinning the chopper around, the scenery rotates in such a way that you still feel in control, unlike with Firehawk where you seemed to spin wildly.

Out-and-out blasting
Yes there are many shoot-em-ups out there. And Seek and Destroy is by no means an original example of the genre, but in successfully combining elements of the best Vision have come up with a winner. If one was to be unkind, one might suggest that it is Desert Strike without the drama. But as an out-and-out blast-em-affair, it is up there with the best of them.

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Spätestens seit "Desert Strike" sind Heli-Ballereien groß in Mode, das hat nun auch Mindscape erkannt und flugs einen Action-Hubschrauber von der Leine gelassen. Ein nicht hundertprozentig geglückter Start...

Die Spielidee hat man der Einfachheit halber gleich vom "Wüstenschlag" übernommen. Der Pilot darf auch hier kriegerische Missionen fliegen, wobei taktisches Vorgehen gut und schnelles Reaktionsvermögen besser ist.

Völlig neu und eigenständig ist dagegen die grafische Präsentation, auch wenn sie auf den Fotos ein wenig öde aussehen mag. Der Witz bei den von oben sichtbaren Landschaften ist nämlich die Animation, denn all die Palmen, Gebäude und Gegner rotieren um das (quasi in der Bildschirme fest installierte) Heli-Sprite herum, und das absolut ruckfrei. Tatsächlich bekommt man ähnliche überzeugende Dreh-FX sonst nur auf der Super Nintendo-Konsole mit ihrem speziell dafür konstruierten Grafikchip zu sehen!

Das ehemals in der PD-Szene aktive Programmierteam Vision Software hat sich also einen Orden für technische Höchstleitung verdient, beim Gameplay sind die Jungs indessen nur knapp an einer Degradierung vorbei geschrammt. So unterscheiden sich die 14 hintereinander absolvierenden Missionen weder in puncto Aufgabenstellung noch in Sachen Einsatzort nennenswert voneinander, zumeist rotiert man eher gelangweilt über Wüsten oder (seltener) dem Meer, um versteckte Geiseln auszumachen oder bestimmte Ziele zu zerstören - auf ein Feindbild bzw. eine Begleitstory hat die Anleitung verzichtet.

Unterwegs werden nun Flakstellungen, umherschwirrende Feindhelikopter oder auch mal Kanonenboote beharkt, wozu neben der unbegrenzt munitionierten MG auch Luft-Boden-Raketen, Napalmbomben sowie (einmalig) alleszerstörende Luftunterstützung zur Verfügung stehen.

Als äußerst praktisch erweist sich dabei ein Radarscanner, der die gesamte Umgebung in zwei Zoomstufen zeigt: außerdem finden sich in ruinierten Ruinen bisweilen frische Treibstoff- oder Munitionsvorräte.

Solokrieger mag der eintönige Spielverlauf somit bald ermüden, Piloten mit Teamgeist und Partner haben es da besser: Wenn ein Spieler die Waffen und ein weiterer die Steuerung übernimmt, kommt durchaus so etwas wie Laune auf!

Günstig auch, daß sich der Heli wahlweise via Stick oder Maus dirigieren läßt, wobei der Nager sogar die bessere Wahl dürfte. Was nun die Präsentation angeht, so sollte man sich von den Standfotos wirklich nicht täuschen lassen, denn der Rotier-Effekt ist ganz große Klasse, und an Grafikdetails herrscht auch kein Mangel - da ziehen Raketen Abgasdämpfe hinter sich her, und getroffene Panzer blasen vor der finalen Explosion ein letztes Rauchwölkchen in die Luft.

Daneben sorgen Funkverkehr in glasklarer Sprachausgabe und eine realistische Soundkullise für Atmosphäre, im Titelbild dröhnt zum harten Thema passende Heavy-Metal-Musik.

Was Seek & Destroy zur Spitzenballerina fehlt, das sind Levelcodes und vor allem eine Portion mehr Abwechslung, so reicht es halt nur für den kleinen Actionhunger zwischendurch. (rl)

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It is this month's obligatory helicopter game! It is viewed from above, it scrolls in every direction, and just for a change, it features the Apache!

Attention! You have just entered a non-protected review area! Your full co-operation is required by military law! You have got to hand it to the American Defend Machine. They are the leaders in design, development, production, maintensnce, upgrade, refurbishment and support.

For every military encounter, whether it be global conflict, local skirmishes, South American drug-runners or plain old Somalian rebels, they have got a fast tactical response piece of combat hardware specifically designed for the job.

"So what! Big deal!" and other proclamations of disinterest you may be thinking. What has this got to do with me? Well, seeing as the average age of combat military personnel in Vietnam was only Ni-ni-ni-ni-ni-nineteen and the average age of an AMIGA POWER reader is So-so-so-so-so-somewhere near that, it seems quite logistical for you folks to be interested in Seek And Destroy.

Your mission is to pilot an Apache Helicopter in a Nintendo Mode 7 circular motion simulation exercise, with each mission becoming progressively more difficult. So difficult in fact that game-hardened psychopathic types who complete civilian games quicker than it takes to pull on a pair of cellophane fatigues, you will start smiling knowingly.

The principles of war do not change. The commander who employs surprise, manoeuvre, mass and economy of force faster and smarter will dominate his enemy. And you cannot get more economical, faster or more forceful than a battle helicopter. In short, you have got to: See first, Shoot first, and Survive. That is where your first advantage lies.

The Apache helicopter was built for the fast lane. Smart, flexible and proven in the field. The only attack helicopter to be called "the workhouse of low-level high-payoff hovering aviation". The rotor-blade-to-air horsepower-to-weight ratio is excellent for those spin-round 'overkill' shoot-and-slaughter manoeuvres.

For today, tomorrow and the next mission on disk, the Apache is all you have and all you need for the role of 'fighter/attack' neutraliser of enemy combat systems; buildings, armour, rocket launchers and anything else that moves.

In order to fulfil the first principle (See First, Shoot first and Survive, generally referred to as SFSSFS or Esseffesseffas) your Apache is equipped with a DAV (probably an Electronics Space Corps DAV product) Warning and Surveillance System. This neat 360-degree coverage compact module enables you to detect, classify and identify air threats and ground targets.

Not only that, it locates hostile helicopters at safe distances. It works in all weathers and over most forms of terrain. Although the game does not have any weather as such, which is a shame really. It is set in a desert, snow, water and jungle terrain, randomly scattered with Charlie. No,no, sorry, I mean, 'hostiles'.

The first mission is relatively easy. You always set out from a home base helicopter pad to the cheerful pseudo-authentic of an Australian-American accent: "Apache One you are clear for take-off". You will, however, find yourself suffering from termination fatigue until you are competent enough with the control system.

Top Tip: as soon as you can complete Mission One using only the chain gun and without suffering any damage, then you are well on the way to successful Apache-ing.

Now that I have mentioned the chain gun, it seems like a good time to discuss the weapons systems you have at your disposal. There are six in all and you select them using the function keys.

With the exception of the first two systems, we will go through them in sequence. The most useful of the systems and the one you will use most often is the FFAR (Fire & Forget Air Rocket). You generally only have 500 rounds to play with on each mission, so it pays to be economical. The beauty of these missiles is their ability to hit ground targets and air targets. Their damage coverage is pretty wide, anyone or anything in a relatively broad area is fatally compromised.

The workhorse of low-level hovering aviation.

The Chain gun is the only weapon system that offers a limitless number of rounds. Use it against personnel and buildings only. It can neutralise self propelled anti-aircraft guns, but this usually involves hanging about in the air too long for comfort.

Air-to-air intercept missiles. This system automatically tracks hostile aircraft and a hit is virtually guaranteed once you fire. Notice that I said a hit is almost guaranteed. Not a kill. For this reason, and this reason alone, it is often more preferable to shoot enemy helicopters down using the FFARs.

Air-to-ground. These can be great fun assuming the tracking system chooses the target you intended. There is nothing more annoying thatn your sight alighting on a hangar or a building when there are anti-aircraft systems on the ground. It is usually best to take out all of the anti-aircraft missiles and mop up loose buildings with the chain gun.

Air Strike. These are incredibly useful when you come up against a clump of highly armoured attack vehicles. Call up an air strike and see everything in a small area disappear. I will break ranks at this point and mention the game's sound. The sample used for the air strike is particularly poignant; a high velocity roar of power, death and destruction. You almost feel sorry for your pixellised enemies.

Napalm. Ah, I love the smell of napalm in the morning. Now you can use it on whoever or whatever you want. This is the sort of thing we want in games - much more reference to and, what the heck, use of a weapon that sticks as it fries as it kills with. They are just about your only help in a hostile world. Use them wisely and you will be rewarded.

Fuel and shields can be replenished with the icons that appear when you destroy buildings although, annoyingly, you have to land on them to do this (the weapon replenishment icons only have to be flown over). The game is difficult enough without this adding to the torture. There is nothing worse than being down to your last segment of shield, trying to land on the shield icon and ending up being shot by a hostile.

So now that we have got here in one piece, it is time to summarise in a hundred or so words.

Because of its theme, it is always going to be compared to Desert Strike which... it is not as good as. It does not have the depth or the atmosphere. The graphics are functional and could be more exciting. The sound is nice, although the sample quality could be better.

The gameplay is difficult - it is not a game you can just cruise through. Having struggled with it for nigh on a week, I can only conclude that game champions and determined people are going to love it. The enemy really are as hard and resolute as you.

In a sentence, Seek And Destroy is not going to explode onto the game scene with any great impact but it will hover about and make slow advances.

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"You spin me right round, baby, right round". Tony Dillon's all in a spin, thanks to Vision Software's new blaster that takes rotational control and turns it on its head.

There's always been something about helicopter games that captures gamers' imaginations. Just think back to games like Thunderhawk and Desert Strike to see how the public just love the destructive powers of Da Vinci's flying machine. New Zealand's Vision Software, those of Woody's World fame and long time Blitz Basic campaigners, realise this too, and have spent the best part of the last year pulling together their own answer to Desert Strike.

Like most games of this type, you have to fly your chopper out on a series of missions across a variety of terrains, blasting airborne and ground-based targets with a single aim in mind, usually to eliminate a certain number of opposing units, destroy a particular building or rescue some hostages. All in a day's work, really.

The whole thing is viewed from above, with your chopper holding a slightly below centre position on the screen. A scanner below you shows the positions of all the enemies in range, and small readouts dotted around the screen show the state of your fuel and shields, along with the currently selected weapon. It's an extremely uncluttered display, and with the speed of this game, it needs to be.

Each mission is played out over an enormous map, yet the screen only scrolls upwards. In a similar style to Bob's Bad Day, the entire screen rotates around your helicopter when you push left or right on the joystick, which while being a fair bit more disorientating than, say, Team 17's Overdrive, certainly looks a lot more impressive.

Oddly enough, once you've got used to the whole world whirling around you every time you touch the joystick, it actually becomes very playable.

What helicopter game would be complete without a wide variety of weapons? Seek And Destroy gives you six different weapons to play with, from the basic chain gun to more advanced weapons such as FFAR (Folding Fin Aerial Rockets), Air-to-Ground and Air-to-Air-homing missiles. More unusual weapons are the air strike, where you can call a fleet of combers to an area to completely annihilate it, or Napalm bombs, ideal for wiping out long lines of enemy tanks.

If six weapons seems like a lot of hard work for one person, then you can stick the game in two player mode, where player one flies the chopper and player two takes over the weapons. A strange way to have a two player arcade game, perhaps, but it works well enough.

Visually, the game looks a little sparse at first. That is, until you take a good look at what it is actually doing. Obviously it's rotating a whole load of objects around a point, using a sequence of pre-rotated sprites to give a convincing image, but one things that isn't immediately apparent is that it is also rotating and placing the shadows for everything on screen.

The light comes from one direction constantly, and the shadows move in relation to your helicopter to represent that. It might not look great on a still screen, but it is extremely effective when moving.

Seek And Destroy is a very easy game to get to grips with, but in time honoured fashion it will take you quite a while to really conquer. Very playable and very addictive indeed, this fast paced blaster shows that there's more to New Zealand than breeding sheep. A hell of a lot more.


One of the most impressive things about Seek And Destroy, other than the fact that it's a particularly fine Metallica song, is the use of samples within the game. Along with all the usual chuggs and flapping sounds from a helicopter game, there is plenty of speech from your imaginary New Zealand co-pilot. Collect some fuel when you're running low, and he'll chip in with "Just in time!", or go a bit berserk on the killing front, and he'll utter "Overkill". My personal favourite is the point where you lose all your lives. The screen goes black, and a voice over the radio starts panicking when you don't respond to his radio messages. Classy stuff.

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Another chance to auto-rotate yourself into oblivion in Vision's Desert Strike clone.

Under normal circumstances a CD title should command more space than we've granted here. However, as you proceed further into the review it'll become quite apparent to you why we have resisted the temptation.

What you have in Seek and Destroy is basically a Desert Strike clone without the desert of the strike! Seek and Destroy is a fairly straightforward helicopter Gulf-'em-up.

Your overall mission is to take control of the Apache gunship, fly into enemy territory and teach them a jolly good lesson. To help you achieve the unenviable task of putting every Arab notion through virtual genocide, you have the normal, rather obvious armour of weapons.

On board are a full range of machine guns and air-to-ground missiles, all of which can be put to great effect. By far the best weapon within your large arsenal is the Air Strike. This allows you to call up an immediate heavy missile strike. All you have to do is fly over the area you want flattening, press the fire button and get your chopper out of there. Five seconds later the whole area is totally torched in a most effective way.

In fact, by far the most impressive aspect of Seek and Destroy are the sound effects. Improved by the virtue of CD technology, the sound is excellent, from the whipping rotors of the Apache, through to the grind of the heavy machine-gun chewing through buildings.

Like Desert Strike, Seek and Destroy is viewed from an overhead perspective. Graphically, the earthbound views are pretty average and seem as though they were created for an A500, although the way the Apache's shadow casts its pixelled image on the landscape below is particularly well handled.

At the final analysis Seek and Destroy isn't really that bad in its essence. It moves quite slickly and there's plenty of action within the structure of the missions.

However, there aren't that many missions in total, and more disappointing is the lack of variety involved. For example, in the majority of cases you'll either be destroying other helicopters, or ground-based tanks and buildings.

After the first couple of missions, Seek and Destroy soon becomes frustrating and a little dull. Part of the reason is because of the gross lack of variety in the action and the enemy's reliance on downing your Apache by a war of attrition.

It's not as if they vary too greatly, you just seem to get more enemies on your screen at one time, and it becomes neigh-on impossible to co-ordinate your weaponry among that level of confusion.

To be honest I'm a little disappointed with Vision software. After the quite excellent Cybernetix and their cracking little platformer Woody's World, Seek and Destroy is well below par.

Given the type of product Seek and Destroy is, it might well have proved popular on the A500 and A600 floppy drive, and did indeed make a brief appearance. But, as a practically full-priced title for Commodore's 32-bit CD-driven prodigy, it's extremely hard to justify.

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Mindscape * £25.99 * Out now

It is all well and good flying in the force of fashion; that is easy to cope with, but flying in the face of hordes of enemy choppers, ground to air missiles and battalions of soldiers is a completely different kettle of fish.

Seek and Destroy, make no bones, is one of the toughest shoot-em-ups around. The 14 missions and then some more, over desert, sea, snow and jungle terrain are the ingredients that ensure even the canniest gamesplayers are tested.

As the pilot of an Apache helicopter your task is to fly off and destroy enough bases to complete a mission, but even in the earlier levels, the enemy more often than not, have the Indian sign over you.

Fortune favours the brave warrior though and we at AF find the best tactic is to fly over the bases shooting like billy-o. You always end up dead but it is damned good fun.

Seek and Destroy uses an overhead perspective to great effect - when spinning the chopper around, the scenery rotates effectively and scrolls smoothly. Using the joypad enables greater control because the weapons are more easily accessed - they include guns, rockets, napalm and missiles. Unlike Desert Strike, Seek and Destroy has few tactical elements, nor does it look as good but as an out-and-out shoot-em-up it is certainly in the same league.

My only reservation about Seek and Destroy is that it is just so difficult, but in terms of playability, Seek and Destroy is excellent and a real challenge for blast-em fans.

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Obwohl Mindscapes Action-Heli mit den tollen Rotationseffekten auch nur vier Wochen von der Diskette zur CD gebraucht hat, wurde hier die Zeit genutzt: Man darf sich auf mehr Grafikdetails in den Wüsten und auf den Ozeanen, über CD-Musik im Titelbild, zusätzliche Sprachausgabe im Spiel und eine verbesserte Steuerung freuen.

Nicht geändert hat sich die geringe Anzahl von nur 14 wenig abwechslungsreichen Missionen, wo immer nboch das Waffenarsenal des Hubschraubers an feindlichen Gefechtsständen und Flugzeugen (etwa zur Geiselbefreiung) zu verpulvern ist. Doch weil man gerade im Team-Modus wieder gerne eine Runde sucht & zerstört, spricht nichts gegen die Aufwertung auf 74 Prozent. (rl)

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Mindscape, £29.99

O dear, what has gone wrong here, then? I spent a good ten minutes fiddling with this, poring over the instruction manual and going 'it does not work, it won't do anything at all!', before a sudden flash of inspiration led me to try plugging my joypad into the wrong port and bingo, off it went. Yep, the dopey clots have actually managed to make the game work through the hitherto-completely-untouched-by-human-hand-joypad port two. Tch.

Get past this elementary cock-up, though, (I would not like to be in Mindscape's returns department over the next few weeks) and you will find exactly the same game as the ordinary Amiga one (79% in AP32), except with intelligent use of the joypad buttons to make it a good bit easier in play (switching weapons, for example, is now just a matter of cycling through the available ones with the top buttons instead having to lunge at the function keys). There is still far too many loading pauses, badly structured ones at that (loading pause, mission briefing, loading pause, actual mission, loading pause etc), which break up the flow of the game quite badly, but put up with those and you get an entertaining and well thought-out shoot-em-up, a bit like a zappier Desert Strike with better sound.

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Praise be to Mindscape, for verily they do support the cause of the CD32 well. Yet another A1200 port here, but that's all right because it's a great game. In case you hadn't read the review a couple of issues ago, Vision Software's neat little shoot em up takes the Desert Strike approach to helicopter combat and stands it on its head.

You fly a lone Apache chopper (as usual), over desert and sea (as before) and there's an entire army waiting to take you on when you get there (surprise, surprise).

So what's new about it? The full screen rotation, really. Take Bob's Bad Day, and use the screen shifting routine, apply it on the whole screen, including the backdrop, and you've got Seek And Destroy.

Though very disorientating at first, watching the whole world bend to your will is quite a pleasant way to spend an afternoon.

Not that you spend all that much time watching the world spin. You're far too busy taking out the millions of targets that make up each objective, while trying to avoid being blown out of the sky by the dozens of bullets and guided missiles shooting around at any one time. Naturally you have more than enough in the weaponry department to return fire, but you're still going to have one hell of a time keeping the bird in the air long enough to complete a mission.

I couldn't help but feel a little disappointed by the conversion though. The only real improvement is some new music, which is far from stunning and loading times which have been decreased slightly. It's a great game, but I can't help wishing they had done a little more with it in the conversion process.