Freeze punk, if ya wanna keep all yer important bits. This King Of Chicago is Cinemaware's latest down-town interactive movie an' you gotta be one helluva gangster to last out the day.
The game is set in 30's and 40's Chicago, with you assuming the role of Pinky Malone. The city has been left open after the imprisonment of Al Capone and someone has to take over the organisation so it seems natural that the job should head in your direction. Unfortunately, there are others on the beat who don't agree. You have to call out the dirty tricks brigade if you're going to do a better job of keeping out the rain than a cullander.
The game is laid out in the old Fighting Fantasy books style - questions appear on the screen with a list of viable answers and then you must reply in a certain way to be led off to confront different challenges. Since the game usually opens with a different plot you can guarantee that none will be the same.
Aside from tacking just about every hoodlum who ever lived and some who didn't, you can make demanding visits to Lola, your mistress, and boy is she one hell of a girl - Lola gets what Lola wants.
King Of Chicago is visually very appealing. Full screens of clear, well-drawn, atmospheric pictures make up the main display. Periods of animation occupt most of these scenes but unfortunately these are slow, jerky and not entirely believable. Sound effects aren't just poor, they're virtually non-existent. No sampled speech, no decent music or gunfire all combine to let down the suspense.
The size of scenario is very important in this kind of game where the ability to meet a different challenge each time is vital. This Cinemaware have admirably achieved. Clear, imaginative graphics add atmosphere to the whole thing but where the problems do emerge is in the speed.
King Of Chicago is, in many ways, like an adventure game where paragraphs of text are read and followed so that the continuity of the storyline proceeds. This is accompanied by short bursts of animation in otherwise stationary pictures. All of this would make for the perfect environment if only you weren't left watching and reading all the time. At the very least a key press should lead you through the game faster. It would have been better to have a much larger number of interactive elements.
Being a Cinemaware game, a vast number of disk swaps means that a DS drive really is essential. Sound effects could have been revamped and smoother graphics would have assisted in removing some of the tedium associated with viewing bursts of text and pictures.
However, King Of Chicago has an exciting and unusual gameplan bursting with comic interludes. If you're prepared to put up with the agonising waits and put a lot of time into it then you can find a challenge.