Whoo-ee! This was a bit of huge, stonking, blockbusting whopper of a movie last year, wasn't it, Spec-chums? It starred that dangerous hunk of gristle we all know and love as Arnie Schwarzenegger - which meant it made up for in designer violence what it lost out on in plot!
And the games exactly the same - only more so! (Hurrah!) For reasons best explained in the movie, 'Little' Arnie has to travel to Mars where he gets caught up in a battle for the planet's air supply. This means that he's got to dodge and kill loads of baddies and collect a few necessary items to help get him to the air supply generators and save all the 'Martians'. (Told you it wasn't much of a plot)
You've Got To Find Lots Of Bits!
The game is split into five levels, of which 1, 2 and 5 ace platform-and-ladders shoot-'em-up-cum-punch-'em-up jobbies, and 2 and 4 are sort of 'glue' sections which stick the others together and take the form of car chase sequences (What? Exactly like Batman? How dare you! Well I suppose a bit like Batman...)
The first shoot-'em-up level more or less sets the blueprint for the others. It's set in a sort ofr space-age interior city with loads of lifts, force-fields and odd little switches dotted around the place. Arnie's job (he's called Doug Quaid in the movie, but we all know he's really Arnie) is to collect a briefcase and work out the settings of switches he needs to get onto the next level. These cause bridges and steps to appear (or disappear), allowing you to reach certain parts of the screen that you couldn't just a minute ago (all the while shooting lots of extremely rude chappies who are always trying to blam you!).
Level 3's pretty much the same (only harder and set in a warehouse), but Level 5 does at least try a bit (this is the one on Mars) and we get treated to a brand-new backdrop and layout (jolly exciting), and some different baddies.
As for the car chase bits, well, they're generally easier (there's no puzzle element) and less endearing. They're just fast-scrolling highway blast-'em-ups really, a case of getting from A to B to carry on looking for collectibles.
So What's It Like?
Well, not at all bad actually! The car bits are a pretty standard, but the platform sequences are very tricky and playable. They've got the difficulty level pitched just right - instead of having numerous lives you're only given one per level, and all those are up against the clock! The graphics are spanky too - they've got a really nice blocky and bouncy feel to them. (For example, when you die you explode in a kind of splat of gory goo. Eurgh!)
But there is a problem (In fact, some of the more observant Trainspotters among you might have picked up on it already.) You see, Total Recall is not the game it was supposed to be! (Eh? Reader's voice) Perhaps I'd better explain...
Anyone who read Matt's Megapreview in the November ish will realise that, though the original Speccy version was very similar (same types of level and gameplay), this is a much scaled-down and simpler game than we were led to expect. (And Lord knows we've waited long enough! The first ads for this appeared in the October ish, over 6 months ago!) We're not too sure what went wrong, but we do know it was given to a different programmer at the very last minute and he had to chum it out in three weeks! It's a shame because with a few more bits and bobs the game would've had a good stab at getting a Megagame as it stands it's all a bit thin on the ground. (Like a B-movie game with an A-movie licence really - if you see what I mean.)
Still, although Total Recall won't knock your socks off, it is fast and addictive, and Ocean should at least be congratulated for releasing a more-than-competent game when they were up against such very hefty odds. (And well done to you, Mr Schwarzenegger, sir, your highness - er, please don't point that thing at me...).
A great game, but not quite as big as 'Big' Arnie himself. (It's not too easy either.)