As the famous toothless budgie put it, "if at first you don't succeed, try, try again". Never has this been so true as in the case of 2000AD licences.
Loads of people have recognised the potential for a fab game based on the characters in Britain's favourite (sorry Viz) second-favourite comic, but few (ie none) have managed a really successful adaptation. Strontium Dog, Rogue Trooper, Nemesis The Warlock, even Dredd himself - they've all been done (and done fairly badly, it has to be said). Let's see what they manage this time round, eh, Spec-chums?
Programmed by Random Access - the Sales Curve bods responsible for the classic Silkworm, the Double Dragon games et al - this new Dredd is a viewed-from-the-side romp through Mega City One. As well as his weapon (fnar) - the Lawgiver, which fires three types of ammo - the Judge also has at his disposal the Lawmaster, his trusty armoured motorbike. In some levels he walks around the place on foot, in others he rides the bike. (In fact, in one later level he actually rides a flying version of it!)
Each section of the game takes its scenario from a different Dredd comic strip - Level One, for instance, is based on the famous Fatties Revolt story. Here Dredd has to explore a maze of platforms and ramps, finding and turning off four food dispensers before the rampaging fatties - citizens who've turned themselves into one-ton monsters by gross overeating - can get their bellies round them. It's a case of ducking, dodging and shooting fatties while keeping an eye on the metre that indicates the crime rate. If Dredd is arresting or shooting lots of perps the crime rate comes down, but if he gets injured, say, and has to go to hospital it zooms right up again (let the crime rate reach maximum and it's Game Over). Having successfully turned off the machines, he then has to find the exit and move onto the second part of the level - protecting a food convoy from the lard buckets!
Later levels are based on other 2000AD stories - the second one is about a city block where an escaped enzyme has reversed evolution and turned the population into monkeys(!), the third and fourth are about SowCity agents trying to contaminate the Mega City water supply, while the fifth introduces the Dark Judges - bizarre beings from a dimension where life itself is a crime!
All these original 2000AD ideas have been coupled with a fair few neat touches from the programmers as well. The action is often interspersed with still comic frames (almost like digitised pages from the comic books) to explain what's going on, and there's a good deal of humour dotted about the place too.
For instance, the game opens with a computer terminal type screen where Dredd has to log on. Here you can select to go on patrol (and so play the game), or perhaps check through Dredd's mail or even play a handful of sub-games (apparently what judges do in their spare time!) which look suspiciously like stuff last seen on the Vic 20!
But (yep, here it comes) despite all the variety - and the different tasks Dredd has to complete on each level - the basic gameplay remains more or less the same throughout. What we've got here is rather a lot of scrolling around the map, arresting, shooting, and destroying/turning things off, and it can all get a bit boring rather quickly.
The fact that the Dredd sprite is so small and the graphics so monochrome doesn't help things much either. The game's spartan look probably allows for quite some depth of play - each of the six stories is in two parts, so that's 12 levels - so if you stick with it you'll more than get your money's worth, but personally I'd rather have seen Dredd given the Last Crusade/Batman: The Movie type treatment - bigger sprites, more varied gameplay and less scenarios. It's like they've tried to get too much in and as a result spread everything too thin. I dunno, maybe for Dredd it'll be third time lucky. Ho hum.
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