Robocop is undoubtedly the hottest video release this Christmas, and Ocean are hoping to cash in on its phenomenal success with their computer adaptation of the blockbusting film.
The scene is Detroit, some time into the future. Crime is rife, and the police force, now privatised and owned by the omnipotent OCP Corporation, is pushed to their limits. Body armour and full-face visors are mandatory, and a policeman's life is cheap.
When the central character, Murphy, is gunned down in a particularly grisly incident, his body - declared clinically dead - is requisitioned by OCP for use in their Robocop project. The result is Robocop, an unstoppable and emotionless cybernetic law enforcer that's half man, half machine and, to coin a phrase, all-cop.
At first all goes well, but when Robocop malfunctions and begins to remember Murphy's memories, he embarks on a mission to track down and destroy the gang members who shot him. And this is where the game starts.
There are nine levels in all, each one recereating a scene in the film. Because there are so many levels, the game is multi-load, although Spectrum +3 owners have the luxury of the whole game loading in one go.
The first scene is a horizontally scrolling shoot-'em-up with Robocop walking along a street taking pot-shots at the hordes of armed hooligans who are marauding around. They return fire, which reduces Robocop's energy meter if he sustains hits. If his bar is diminished entirely one of his three lives is lost.
Ammunition is limited, rounds remaining shown numerically at the bottom of the screen, but there's extra ammunition dotted around the landscape. There are also extra weapons which can be picked up and used against the enemy - my favourite is the mega-bazooka which blows away dozens of villains!
When Robocop has walked far enough, he turns into a side alley and the second level begins, which is seen through the eyes of Robocop in first-person 3D. At the end of the alley is a thug who has to be apprehended - but he's using a woman to shield himself. By using Robocop's crosshair sights, the player has to shoot the thug several times as he moves left and right. Shooting the woman reduces Robocop's energy bar severely. I particularly enjoyed this sequence, as it requires split-second reflexes and timing to get in that crucial shot - the graphics and feel are also superb.
Next is another scrolling shoot out, with motorcyclists entering the fray, followed by a photofit session. Here the player has to match the picture of a felon with identical photofit components: eyes, ears, hair, nose and mouth, within a 30 second time limit. It's quite tricky, as all the bits look very similar, and failure results in loss of a life. Just to make things more difficult, there's a pool of faces, and the computer chooses one randomly. It's a neat idea, and breaks up the blasting perfectly.
More shooting next, this time with vertically scrolling sections as Robocop climbs the steps of a warehouse. Next comes a confrontation with Dick Jones, the evil Senior President of OCP, and his robotic killing machine ED-209. More shooting follows as Robocop escapes from OCP Tower, followed by even more blasting in a junkyard. The game reaches its climax with the final showdown between Dick Jones and Robocop - who will win?
Robocop is one of my favourite films, and Ocean's tie-in captures its atmosphere perfectly - I don't think they could have done a better job. The fabulous graphics certainly help, and there's even digitised speech from the film, although it's a bit scratchy. The gameplay is tough, but it's very addictive, and there's plenty of variety, with straightforward shooting, a reflex test and a puzzle game to test the player. The game is also brilliantly presented, with an introductory sequence straight from the film - when Robocop is first powered up - and the multiload is swift and painless.
This is definitely the best film tie-in to date, and is an utterly superb game in its own right - don't miss it.