Saturday, November 14, 2020

Techno Cop


I Am The Law!

Have you ever booted up something that instantly felt cheap and tacky yet you spent hours playing and never once considered hitting the reset button? Think Club Drive for the Atari Jaguar... Well, here is a game by Gremlin Graphics that tries to blend together two genres: car racing and a quiet walk through rough neighbourhoods.

If you hadn't already guessed, we're one of the heroes in blue but, no ordinary policeman. No, we're a Techno Cop who is under orders to take-down various members of the DOA - Death On Arrival. This is a huge gang of thugs who enjoy driving fast cars, live in abandoned buildings and look like extras from a Death Wish movie!

Actually, being a Techno Cop must be cool because they get to drive a VMAX Turbo Interceptor sports car and use a Magnum to kill anyone they don't like the look of. That's about as technical as it gets and I love that simplicity so, ignoring first impressions, I soon started to enjoy what is nothing less than a crudely violent game!


All In A Day's Work

For each stage (scene of a crime), we begin behind the wheel of a fancy sports car on the way to a troubled hotspot. The roads are cluttered with DOA agents but our VMAX is fitted with a cannon to blast those suckers into smithereens. The dashboard shows speed, revs and even a damage meter that worsens with each roadside skirmish. Also displayed is the distance to a crime hotspot - so put the pedal to the metal!

Upon arriving, we get out for a stretch of the legs as the game flips into a scrolling shoot 'em up quite similar to Thunder Jaws or Rolling Thunder. These rundown apartment blocks are full of trash, graffiti, thugs, hookers and even rats that nibble your toes. The thugs are relentless; carrying chains, whips, baseball bats, knives and more. It's now that you should use the magnum and blast 'em into a gloopy mess of blood and gore. More, later...

Mission objectives detail how you to uphold the law; be it a hostage situation, a mugging in progress, a boss to eliminate, etc. It would be impossible to follow out these orders without using your wrist gadget that shows lives, score, jumping energy and can even swap the magnum for a net - used to capture rather than kill. Importantly, it also features a radar to help locate each boss. Beware, this isn't a direct route so you may need to use the elevators to avoid a dead-end. Completing a mission grants points and promotion through the twelve ranks:

1 Grunt... 2 Rookie... 3 Flat Foot... 4 Patrol Man... 5 Cop... 6 Officer...
7 Sergeant... 8 Enforcer... 9 Commander... 10 Top Cop... 11 Chief... 12 Technocop


Gimme That Joystick!

The VMAX handles like a wooden wedge and is very unrealistic. Okay, this is an arcade racer and nothing serious but, even so, it's lagging way behind something like Crazy Cars 3, Test Drive, Lotus 2 or Buggy Boy. And by a mile. Sadly, it's all too easy to crank up the damage by smashing into the roadside objects when preoccupied with shooting enemy cars. Plus, I didn't care for the initially sluggish rate of fire. Road Blasters, this stage is not!!

I learnt that it's good practice to simply rush to the next crime hotspot, ignoring the DOA cars the best you can. This is not only quicker but saves lots of potential damage so your game should last longer too. Plus, quick racers are awarded upgrades such as a turbo boost and (much needed) faster firing.

The crime stages are best where we can walk, crouch, leap and run through (yet another) condemned building with ease. The leaping is ace and allows you to explore quicker and is best when surrounded by henchmen. The radar is a huge help and I doubt it would be possible to complete any mission without using it. And learning the map.

Gun love is why we're here and Techno Cop is superb. In fact, there are times I forget I'm a policeman and behave more like an escaped psychopath because it's easy to ignore the plan and go about killing everyone. Yep, everyone! Even the odd innocent kid stupidly running by or playing outside. The death of all victims is bloody and violent as they scream and explode into a pile of gloop. Gloop with eyes stuck on top. Brilliantly brutal and I love it.


Aesthetics 80s-Style!

The driving scenes are quite bland with little scenery and average framerates. Though I did like the mountains and the palette choices/changes. Weirdly, the DOA cars are cumbersome beasts and the road changes far too quickly to be driven well. The fuzzy sampled sound effects are great... Okay, it's not Turbo Cup but I enjoyed them.

The scrolling-crime parts are excellent!! Each building is packed with incredible attention to detail: litter, traps, graffiti, broken plaster, damaged floors, dead bodies, loot and traps. It's basically the perfect environment for the Michael Winner movies!! Enemy sprites are nicely animated and detailed, even down to their spikey punk hair. Okay, the scrolling could have been better but at least the developers didn't wimp out with push/flick.

Audio is made using crunchy samples which are nice and add to the violent atmosphere although I don't understand why our Techno Cop makes a silly "meow" when he jumps! Anyhow, the best sound effect from the entire game is the screaming explosions when killing a criminal - your gun can turn a human into a horrendous pile of slop! It's brilliant and makes Techno Cop one of the most hilarious killers you could imagine. Fan-freaking-tastic!!


The CryptO'pinion?

You can't go wrong with fast cars and big guns. This game has what it takes but there are a few more niggles that bugged me: the driving stage feels like a clunky afterthought but the power-ups are a neat touch. The missions are pretty much the same, thus quite repetitive and later tasks certainly require extra time.

However, Techno Cop still scores very highly because of its arcade-styles, and killing scumbags is quite simply brilliant. Okay, it could have been better in parts but blasting baddies into a pile mush is bliss. I loved it.

Download floppy or hard drive version

4 comments:

  1. I remember playing it on my Amstrad cpc but I felt frustrated whenever I saw the 16 bits version with their clear and coloured graphics and digitised sounds. This game is good because it's a mixture of different games gathered in one : chase hq, city Hunter and rolling thunder. You even have the ancestry of the apple watch 😁 Thanks mate for this review 👍

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    1. The rolling thunder bits are ace. So much fun. Even though RT sucked on the ST :/ Still, there's always Thunder Jaws! (Linked above)

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  2. I remember drooling over this game (mostly because the car looks like a Lamborghini Countach) when i saw it in CVG magazine, but my local gameshop didn't have a copy. Have forgotten it ever since but i guess i should give it a proper try this weekend.

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    1. I'm back now :) So, how did your gameplay go after all these years?

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