Amstrad Action

By Infocom
Amstrad CPC464

Published in Amstrad Action #22

Quite frankly, I hate Bureaucracy. I simply will not countenance the mind-boggling level of crass ineptitude and paranoia that slowly but surely overwhelms the player in this, the latest Infocom masterpiece. By gad, sir! It shouldn't be allowed! That Douglas Adams chappie should be clapped in irons!

Let me tell you the whole, the horrible, the hideous truth. It all starts like this...

You have just received a letter from your new employer Happitec, to tell you that the company is laying on a free trip to Paris. It's also sending you a cheque for $75 spending money. All you have to do is take the letter to your local travel agent, who will exchange it for an air ticket. Then you grab a taxi to the airport and you're away! You lucky devil, you...

That is where the nightmare begins. You see, there has been this teensy-weensy spot of bother with the bank. On starting work for Happitec, you moved to a new address and... ooops!... the bank seems to have mislaid your change-of-address slip. So it has sent all your documents to the wrong address... and it has cancelled your credit cards because it hasn't heard from you. No sweat, mate, you think, just grab Happitec's cheque and skedaddle off to Paris. Sort the mess out when your return.

Ho no, clever dick. Things ain't that easy. You see, the local mail system seems to be suffering somewhat, and your precious cheque has also been delivered to the wrong address. So off you go to find it.

As soon as you load up the game, all the inefficiencies and paranoia of our super-stream lined 20th-century society make themselves evident. To start with, you must fill in an on-screen licence registration form (the first of many absurd bits of documentation) for the program itself. The form asks you for the names of your lovers, and passes rude comments about you and your personal attributes. It also refuses to fill itself in in the correct order. It is, in fact, just the sort of form we're accustomed to dealing with in everyday life.

You must then get the better of a hungry llama, an ancient matron with an elephant gun. and a highly unpredictable subscriber to Popular Paranoia magazine. This latter gentleman lives down the road in a house painted brown and green (for camouflage) and believes that yogurt is the breeding ground for all major modern diseases. As you approach his gate, he announces through the intercom, "Unfortunately I've got a radio connected to my brain" -and if you don't have the right reply to this and later equally insane remarks you'll find yourself stitched up by machine-gun fire. Ah well... neighbours! If it weren't that you needed to check up on their mail deliveries (in search of your cheque) you could do well without them.

By the way, I won't give you an excuse to slit your wrists at this stage by telling you that the cheque - when you eventually get it - is quite useless. Ooops...

Add to all this a game which features an infuriating cab company who won't take credit cards, a mad stamp-collector, a fast-food restaurant that gives you the exact opposite of what you ordered (if you're lucky), a travelling nerd who keeps trying to sell you a "universal interface" and a parrot that chants fascist slogans and has a deep appreciation of Mikhail Gorbachov (or Ronald Reagan - its tastes change with each game), and you've got a very trying game. And all that's only the beginning...

You should by now have some idea why I hate Bureaucracy so much, and why I am still playing it! The awful thing is that I simply have to urge you to go out and buy it... just keep the aspirin ready during play.

The Pilgrim

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