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After Burner Amiga game

Gordon Hamlett ventures off into the wild blue yonder in AFTERBURNER. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No! It's an oncoming air-to-air missile. Oh well, it's only another life up the spout. Afterburner from Activision is the conversion of one of the top arcade games of last year. All that's missing is the seat-cum-console that you sat in as you blasted your way to death or glory. Those of you seeking added realism will have to make do with a swivel chair, I suspect.

As plots go, Afterburner offers the ultimate in minimalism. There isn't one. You are at the controls of the latest in supersonic jet fighters - an American F14 - battling against ever-increasing odds against a nameless but nonetheless relentless enemy. Your view is presented from just behind the tail of your aircraft with the enemy coming head-on to meet you. Apart from those that sneak up on you from behind. The 3-D effects work superbly well as you hurl your plane around the sky.

The game effectively divides into two phases: offensive and defensive maneuvers. As enemy planes come within range, your cannons fire automatically, although my experience is that they do little damage. More useful are your missiles. These will take out instantly any craft that they hit, and it is even possible to destroy more than one plane at once. The only problem with using these though is that you only have a limited number and you have to wait for your instrument panel to indicate that you have locked onto a target. You get awarded one hit point for every aircraft destroyed, and these are later converted into a bonus when you complete a section. As you progress further into the game, you get topped up with missiles and gain the odd extra life to help you on your way.

If you can shoot at them, it seems only reasonable that the enemy can fire back at you, and so you will have to avoid large numbers of incoming missiles. In the early stages, it is easy enough to dodge out of the way of them, but when they start appearing in numbers or from behind, then things become somewhat tricky. Fortunately, there are warning lights in your cockpit to let you know if someone or something is trying to shoot you up the bum. The standard escape route here is to move into one corner of the screen and perform a 360-degree turn. Ideally, this should now put you behind whatever it was that you were previously in front of. Also at your command, and useful if you happen to have run out of missiles, is a change of speed. There are three basic rates: slow, cruise, and fast, but you can really hit the accelerator, albeit for brief periods only by switching on your afterburner.

As already mentioned, the graphics are very good, and there is a range of sound to accompany your task. Choose from either the usual repetitive tune or from sound effects which include some excellent speech synthesis even if the vocabulary is a trifle limited. All in all, then, a first-class shoot-em-up.

Game category: Amiga games

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