Publisher: Alternative
Compatibility: BBC B, B+, Master 128 & Acorn Electron
Reviewed by: Dave E
Originally published in EUG #71

Licence To Kill is a game that was released on the budget label - and it shows! The premise, which is ludicrous, is that you are a secret agent who has infiltrated a Neo-Nazi organisation ruled by the 'surclives'. How, and why? Well, that's for Alternative to know and for you to find out.

This game has an opening sequence - a rarity among Electron games! But don't get excited just yet; the opening sequence is simply the sound of gunshots whilst the screen stays totally blank - and it lasts thirty of the longest seconds you may ever have to wait. After that comes the instructions which, truth be told, make the game sound like a variety of pelmanism. Being told you will need to save access codes on a cassette is also puzzling - it's not clear if it's a physical operation you need to perform with your Acorn Electron and cassette recorder, or a graphical cassette you need to collect during the game proper!

The game proper is virtually incomprehensible. It runs in Mode 5 with a playing area of only 3 x 17 CHR$ and jerks terribly as you move around. Oh yes, it's a platform game by the way. There seem to be about five separate graphics - you, doors, swatiskas, the enemy and the ground. You are told in the instructions that the enemy are robot 'surclives' - they look like regular people to me!

Anyway, you start on the 32nd floor of a building and can wander up and down the ladder or pace the corridors to the right. The idea, from the instructions, seems to be to carry out a search of each level to try and find cassettes and computers. So far I've haven't discovered a damn thing - you have no weapon apart from a knife to stab with. This requires perfect timing to inflict a wound and has no auto repeat meaning you have to tap the key in order to 'keep' stabbing. Frequently the enemy 'robot' just wanders through your efforts, touches you and then you die. Even if you do manage to kill him he disintegrates but sometimes appears again just pixels away. Up to four of them sometimes put in an appearance - the odds of survival are about 8:1 against from what I can tell. I frequently found myself alive for just moments between one try and another.

Curtains for you entails a cacophany of random notes; moving left and right elicits a long beeeeeeeeeeep from your Electron's speakers! If you are killed more than five times you'll be told, in Mode 5 barely readable text, that MI7 has sacked you!

The Opening Sequence Takes About 30 Seconds To Get Started - Sigh! The purpose of the doors is unclear. There does not seem to be any way of opening them, and standing next to them produces odd effects - such as the ladder on the left of the screen temporarily disappearing! They perhaps are simply there as background, because the game tries to keep your character in the centre of the screen at all times - and the doors therefore give the impression of animation as he moves along corridor after corridor.

And another thing - what exactly is this game called? The box calls it Licence To Kill, the game says you are 'licenced (sic) to kill' but the proof-readers have got to some references and corrected these to licensed to kill. This sloppiness is in keeping with the game's general hopelessness.

I held off on reviewing this game for many months just trying to find something - anything! - that may give me a clue as to what the player is meant to be doing. The instructions don't mention doors or ladders but do mention an access code. There seems to be a status bar above the so-called 'action' at the top of the playing area. But, seeing as only the hardiest of games players will remain alive longer than sixty seconds, you're probably just as unlikely to find out its use as I am.

I struggle to see how this got published so late in the Electron's life; I've seen type-ins which were head and shoulders better than this effort. It's dull infinitum and lazily presented to boot. The worst of all worlds in a professionally released game, even if was only £1.99.