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Developer King of the Jungle Options
Distributer Virgin 1 Player
Game Type Arcade Shoot-em-up Mem. Card
Review Date October'97
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Setting the Scene
If this had been a movie rather than a video game you could bet your life that only one actor would top the bill - Arnie. You know the type of game - 'your on your own', 'we'll deny all knowledge', 'parachute behind the enemy lines', 'place explosives on the towers', 'rescue all hostages', Oops, I almost forgot, 'kill everyone in sight'.

Steady yourself for a non stop blast as one lone agent takes on all evil, single handed, and wins (that's if your good enough and you use your memory card). Prepare to become Agent Armstrong.

Agent Armstrong is set in the 1930's where a criminal cartel known as the Syndicate is gradually taking over the world. Enter the most respected agent from the British Secret Service to track down this organization who will lead him to various locations across the world from the Amazonian Jungle to the Chicago dockyards.

Agent Armstrong is an arcade shoot-em-up/platform game which is set in a full 3D environment that allows the player to move left and right, forward and backwards, jump up and fall down. Your versatile character can walk or run, climb or drop, stand or lie down, shoot bullets or throw weapons.

The game opens up with a superb FMV intro that displays our super heroes agility and skills in a cartoon style reminiscent of the Worms intro. These scenes are spread throughout the game and appear between missions.

The in-game graphics are very good. The main character's motions remind me of the way the cowboy moved around the screen in Toy Story on the Megadrive, as if he was on strings. When under extreme attack from the enemy he can leap over the bullets while a press of the X button sees him hit the deck before continuing his assault from a lying position. Armstrong moves around the sets quite fluidly although the lack of a shadow makes it difficult to judge where or what he is standing on. This results in countless tumbles from the platforms and the loss of a life.

That aside, the sprite enemies are fine and appear in many guises. Troops march back and forth patrolling their sentry duties but if you get too close they will group together and attack from all angles. Gangsters seem to prefer hiding out on the rooftops, sneaking around in their 30's style attire armed with a lethal machine gun. Very Al Capone. Bare chested flame thrower troops stalk the grounds ready to unleash a ball of flame in your direction, while high above jet packing forces rule the skies as they drop masses of 'chute bombs whenever you are spotted.

The polygon vehicles and gun towers look solid enough. Explosions are bright and colorful while the demise on an enemy is accompanied by the glowing framework of his skeleton bone structure.

Sounds and Effects
The music that accompanies the action blends in with the themed levels superbly. It ranges from a nerve tingling Mission Impossible style to a full cinematic score that would not be misplaced in E.T. or an Indiana Jones movie.

Crash! Bang! Wallop! Whoosh! Rat-a-tat-tat! That's the sound effects out of the way now on with the game.

Your first port of call is the agencies headquarters. No this is not the first level but a neat way of setting up your game options. Here you can customize the settings, load and save games, select your mission from the world map or, best of all, enter the practice room to hone your crime fighting skills on dummy gangsters and troops, safe in the knowledge that nobody will shoot back. A visit here is recommended before launching into your first mission as control of Agent Armstrong takes a little getting used to. Crouch, fire, throw missile and jump will soon become second nature but shooting at angles requires a bit of practice. Jumping from a roof onto a wall ladder will cost more lives than you care to lose so use this opportunity to exercise the skill.

Before you accept a mission, carefully read all of the objectives. These are divided into Primary and Secondary tasks. Completion of Primary objectives will allow you to complete the level and move on, but Secondary objectives earn you a gold Medal of Honor and as you are not getting paid to play this game then you may as well go all out for the silverware. A letter 'P' will be displayed at the bottom of the screen and a loud horn will sound when your mission is a success. All that's left to do is 'get the 'ell outta here' by deploying your green flare at the extraction zone for five seconds. An agency chopper will come and hoist you out then return you to H.Q.

Some missions are fairly basic and involve tasks such as rescuing hostages, destroying crates and killing a certain number of troops. Others will have you scurrying back and forth destroying buildings with wireless bombs, leaping over rooftops lighting flares for air raids and generally causing as much mayhem and destruction as possible.

Agent Armstrong is armed to the teeth with many highly destructive weapons. A constant companion is his rifle where bullets can be collected throughout each level. Several throwing projectiles may also be collected such as grenades and gas bombs The longer the throw button is held down the further the missile is hurled. Destruction of objects and scenery will reveal hidden ammo and health boosts. These are essential to keep his supply of bullets topped up while heart shaped power ups will replenish Armstrong's falling health bar.

At the end of each section there are challenging bosses to overcome such as girocopters to shoot down, tanks to destroy and giant robots to contain.

Value for Money
While each mission is varied, the outcome will usually be the same - frantic and prolonged shooting leading to green flares raised and chopper to the rescue. Don't get me wrong, a great amount of satisfaction will be felt when a mission has been completed successfully, it's just that the gameplay rarely allows you a pause for thought.

Agent Armstrong is a pure, unadulterated, action all the way, blast of an Arcade Shooter. You know what you are getting when you enter the practice room, never mind starting the first level. If that's what you like, then go get it.

Me? Yeah, I'll pop back for a mission every now and then but I'll be sure to remember the headache tablets next time.

GRAPHICS: 16/20 Agent Armstrong is divided into thirty levels and amazingly each mission is dissimilar to the rest. However the gameplay remains the same throughout - running around shooting everyone, collecting power ups to sustain your life and completing each task before your health bar runs down. I found it a little difficult to successfully jump over hazards due to the ommision of shadowing which can be quite frustrating when you know it is not your fault. Overall a good arcade shooter in the Loaded mould.
SOUND: 6/10
VALUE: 16/20

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