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Article #26 (74 is last):
Newsgroups: freenet.sci.comp.atari.product.8bit.reviews
From: aa700@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Michael Current)
Subject: Infiltrator / game / commercial
Posted-By: xx004 (aa700 - Michael Current)
Reply-To: aa700@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Michael Current)
Date: Wed Feb 12 00:02:26 1992


Reprinted from the A.C.E.C. BBS (614)-471-8559


NOTICE: This article originally appeared in the September '88 issue of the
Michigan Atari Magazine and may be freely distributed or reprinted in
non-profit User Group publications as long as the article's author and Michigan
Atari Magazine are credited AND this notice is reprinted with the article.  All
other publications must obtain written permission from Unicorn Publications,
3487 Braeburn Circle, Ann Arbor, MI 48108, Phone: (313) 973-8825 before using
this article. 

Mindscape's Infiltrator on the 8Bit by Bob Retelle

The packaging for "Infiltrator", from Mindscape, Inc., would seem to indicate
the game is just another combat helicopter "flight simulator" like Super Huey
and Gunship, but there's a lot more to it than that.  The disk actually
contains two related, but different games.  First you must fly your
heavily-armed helicopter behind enemy lines, then you disembark and go on foot
into the enemy headquarters on a covert intelligence mission.

The manual for the game is written as an overdone parody of military manuals
and spy movies.  After some silly stuff about getting you to abandon your
current career as "neurosurgeon, politician, movie actor, rock star, world
class motorcyclist, explorer, karate expert, and devil-may-care all around nice
guy," the manual moves on into (almost) specific details about how to play the
game.  First you're presented with the Owner's Flight Manual for your new
"Whizbang Enterprises 'Gizmo'(tm) DHX-1 Attack Helicopter" (affectionately
known as the "Snuffmaster").  Once you get through that, you find the McGibbits
Guide to Ground Installation Infiltration, (Pocket Edition) which goes into how
to play the second part of the game.  This cutesy-parody style is laid on a bit
too heavily for my taste, but the actual game instructions are clear enough if
you can get through the other stuff.  Thankfully, the style of the manual
doesn't detract from the game itself.

The game starts with Captain Johnny "Jimbo Baby" McGibbits (that's YOU) sitting
in the cockpit of the "Gizmo" helicopter.  The graphics are quite well done,
with the typical helicopter instrumentation on the control panels, and lots of
flashing indicator lights.  Also nicely done are the graphics of the pilot's
hands on the control sticks.  When you move the joystick, the hands move the
control sticks in the corresponding directions. Pressing the fire button, makes
the thumb on the right hand reach up and press the button on top of the right
stick.

After you start your engines and get into the air, you switch to your
"Tactical" display to find out the Automatic Direction Finder frequency for
your mission.  As it turns out, this frequency is the same every time you play
the game.  Then you switch to your "Communications" display and enter the
frequency manually into the ADF.  From that point on, the ADF indicator on the
instrument panel will point you in the direction of your target location.

While flying to your destination, you'll encounter other aircraft, some
friendly, some enemy and some "maniacs" who will attack ANYONE.  You have to
switch to your communications system and type in a request for identification.
The other aircraft will reply with the pilot's code name and a request that you
identify yourself. This is where some "skill" is required to guess whether the
other pilot's name sounds like a "friendly or an "enemy".  If you guess right,
and your reply is accepted, you'll be allowed to proceed without having to
fight. You have to be constantly watching for other aircraft, because if they
challenge you first, you won't have a clue as to their loyalties, and will just
have to flip a coin as to how to answer them.

The chopper's controls, often a subject for criticism with me, are for a change
very nicely done!  The fire button is used as a sort of "Shift Key" to allow
the joystick to control all of the helicopter's movement.  You can go up and
down, accelerate and decelerate, and both bank and rotate to the left and
right, all without taking your hands off the stick.  The only problem occurs
when you have a weapon armed, and you have to disarm it before you can slow
down or rotate using the fire button, but I still prefer this control setup
over ones which require keyboard action for flying.

I missed having a Radar display of the positions of enemy aircraft, but there
is an indicator which flashes when an enemy launches a missile at you, allowing
you to quickly fire off the appropriate counter-measure.  There really wasn't
much action during the flight portion of the first mission.  I'm assuming
things will get hotter during later missions, IF I can ever survive the second
part.

Once you land your chopper behind enemy lines, you're asked to flip the disk,
and the ground infiltration portion of the game loads.  The game play here is
very reminiscent of a one-player Spy vs. Spy and a little of Castle
Wolfenstein.  In the first mission, you have to sneak by the guards and
photograph secret documents in the buildings and aircraft outside, then return
to your helicopter to fly home.  To aid you in this operation, you have forged
ID papers, a mine detector and two different types of sleeping gas.  As this is
a "covert" operation, you don't have any weapons to defend yourself.

I found it extremely difficult to get past all the guards without them setting
off the Alarm which causes EVERYONE in the installation to go after you.  Even
if a guard in a room accepts your papers as legitimate, you still have to
search the file cabinets in the room.  If he sees you doing this, he'll set off
the Alarm.  If you leave the room just as a guard orders you to show your
papers, he'll set off the alarm.  If you take too long getting your sleeping
gas ready after a guard says your papers are not in order and try to run, he'll
set off the Alarm.  In other words, it won't be long before the Alarm is
sounded.  Once that happens, it's pretty much all over.  There IS a security
pass which will silence the Alarm, somewhere in the installation, but I've yet
to find it, and it only works once.  You have a limited supply of the sleeping
gas, and while you can find more by searching, it'll be long gone before you
get out alive.  After being caught five times, the mission is scrubbed, and
you'll have to start over from the beginning, back in your helicopter.

The game requires an XL or XE system to run.  I did try it on my 48K 800, just
to see if it would work, but it does require the full 64K that the package
indicates.

"Infiltrator" is a good blend of two different types of games.  The helicopter
simulation seems to be a little less complex than others of this genre, but
still is very well done.  The ground infiltration portion has a high
frustration factor, but it looks as though perserverance and patience may be
the key to slipping past the guards.  I'd recommend "Infiltrator" to anyone who
enjoys both flight simulators and "spy" games. 

-- 
 Michael Current, Cleveland Free-Net 8-bit Atari SIGOp   -->>  go atari8  <<--
   The Cleveland Free-Net Atari SIG is the Central Atari Information Network
      Internet: currentm@carleton.edu / UUCP: ...!umn-cs!ccnfld!currentm
     BITNET: currentm%carleton.edu@{interbit} / Cleveland Free-Net: aa700





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