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US Gold Ltd
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

Other Links

Linda Barker
Chris Bourne

Oh dear. Line Of Fire seems to be rather topical, doesn't it? It's all about loads of soldiers in a desert running about shooting each other, you see. (Let's hope reality doesn't get any closer to what we see here than it has already, eh?)

Ahem. But anyway, the game. As you've probably guessed from the screenshots, it's a shoot-'em-up along the popular lines of Operations Wolf and Thunderbolt. In fact, it's the only Op Wolf clone being touted this year, which more or less guarantees it a fair slice of the action - the only thing it's really got to do is convince us that it's not something we've all seen a million times before (though, of course, it is).

Just like its Op predecessors, Line Of Fire is a sort of shooting gallery affair (as if you didn't know already). Various objects including soldiers, helicopters and speedboats come hurtling towards you firing missiles and dropping bombs and it's your job to shower them back with bullets, using a little gunsight thingie that you move around the screen.

(Actually, I start to get a bit worried about myself when I play these sorts of games, because though I'm a peace-loving soul most of the time - it doesn't take much to get me yelling "Kill! Kill! Kill!" and thinking about joining the army. Yikes!)

But anyway, back to the game. So far it all sounds pretty identical to Thunderbolt, doesn't it? Yup, pretty much the same comin'-at-ya action, and with a two-player option as well. But what about the 'big twist'? The 'hook' that's going to make us all want to rush out and buy it? Well (wait for it) in Line Of Fire you can actually move around corners too! One minute you're zooming along a corridor, shooting at soldiers, when suddenly you come to the end and whammo! Everything twists around 90 and you zoom off down the next corridor. It's enough to make you feel jolly giddy, I'll tell you.

There are eight levels, all of which sound fairly varied but don't let that kid you. You start off in an enemy base, with loads of 'orrible foreigners charging at you, and then move on in the second level to another enemy base, this time yellow and stuck in a jungle. Here you get to blow up jeeps and helicopters, as well as collect lots of little boxes (as you do on all the levels). The ones marked with a cross are first aid boxes (sorry if I'm insulting your intelligence here), the others are ammo or what have you.

Onto Level Three then, and it's an escape by high-speed boat, with lots of enemy boats to destroy. Here your ammo and medicine boxes are perched on top of bridges and all goes fairly swimmingly until the end, when something very odd appears. I'm not quite sure what it is - it's a sort of big grey lump, with lots of knobbles and guns and, yes, I think I can make out some gunmen there too. It looks like a wall floating in the middle of the river, but I guess it's really a sort of two-tier bridge, with little baddies hiding between the arches.

And that's one of the main problems with the game really - you couldn't really call Line Of Fire pretty (everything's in monochrome with the levels in different colours) and you certainly couldn't call it clear. I mean there you are, merrily blasting the Christmas stuffing out of everyone when giddy aunts! What's that?! A boat? A helicopter? A something else? I don't blooming know. (Ahem. Perhaps I'm exaggerating here a bit but you get the general idea, and it's certainly not helped by things being a bit jerky at times.)

But anyway, back to the plot. We've also got some fighting in a canyon, a ruined city bit (which scrolls sideways), a bit set in a tunnel (where you seem to encounter a bloke in tight leather trousers suspended in a cage affair and surrounded by hooks and chains - very strange), an aeroplane bit and, ooh, much (much) more. But for all this supposed variety the action's pretty much the same throughout.

The basic trouble - and I guess it's the same with all these sorts of games is that it's all just a load of killing (and then a bit more killing after that). The scrolling-round-corners effect - the selling point to make it different from the Ops - isn't a big enough twist to keep you interested and it just ends up being too old hat to be very exciting. For die-hard shooting gallery fans only.

(Hmm. The thrill of blowing things up seems to have worn off - maybe I won't be joining the army after all. Besides, there's all that horrible food to consider too.)

Disappointing Op Wolf variant that claims to be different but isn't at all really.


Screenshot Text

They throw lots of stuff at you, but even here it's not very clear what it all is - things get even worse when it's moving.

Check out these odd bridges on the boat level, packed with collectable goodies. (Hurrah!)

Hmm. I don't think Player Two is pulling his weight somehow. (It must be Matt.)