Title The Executioner Game Type Shoot-em-up Players 1 Developer Hawk Publisher Tactix HD Installable Yes (with WHDLoad) Submission Chris Burns Review Being a huge fan of the old BBC Micro game "Thrust", I just HAD to have a clone of it once I had bought my Amiga. I would have liked a copy of OIDS but it looks like that never made it to the Amiga, at any rate I couldn't find a copy. So I made do with this, the dark and ominous Executioner. There IS actually a plot, which is more or less this :- It is the bleak and brutal 22nd Century and an interplanetary war is raging. You, as a crack pilot, have been withdrawn from the front line for a special mission; you must track down and kill the opposing Emperor - hence you are the titular Executioner. To do this you will need to find 4 parts of a key that have been scattered throughout the galaxy. (A master tactician would probably say at this point "Why don't we just decapitate the regime by bombing the Emperor's palace instead of messing about finding keys?" but there wouldn't be much of a game then). The galaxy is split into a number of areas and each area has a number of planets for you to visit, a shop and a space station (of which more later). The idea of the game is pretty much the same as Thrust; you control a drone ship which immediately begins to fall towards the ground. You move it around - and stop it crashing! - by means of left and right and occasional bursts of the rocket motor. The object of each planetary level is to find and activate a transmitter pod, using your ship's tractor beam, whilst avoiding enemy fire and other annoying obstacles and keeping an eye out for key parts. One difference in the gameplay between this game and the original Thrust is that the pod is simply absorbed, rather than connected to your drone ship by an umbilical cord, so you don't have to try and manuever it back up through the caves. This is a bit easier of course, but hardly in the spirit of the original Thrust! There are two main types of planetary terrain; Type 1 is swampy, muddy coloured landscape dotted with castles(!), trees and branches. In the great Thrust tradition there are plenty of caverns to drop down into and explore. Vexingly, a number of 'trees' turn out to be guns whilst every now and again a branch will suddenly reach out of the ground to attack you. Soldiers will take a pop at you from the castle battlements and some of the guns regenerate after being destroyed but in fairness the enemy fire is irritating rather than heavy. Type 2 is ice-crystal caverns. These are a great deal easier as, although the terrain is a bit more jagged and requires more careful maneuvering, there aren't so many errant natives shooting at you. Once you've picked up a transmitter pod, a vortex appears at the beginning of the planet level; flying into this will allow you to escape the planet. You can also pick up people on the ground who attract attention to themselves by leaping up and down on the spot. However, once you've used your tractor beam to pick them up they are now your prisoners!! Ha! I bet that made them feel stupid! If you dock at the current area's Space Station, then you can actually torture your prisoners in order to discover where the various parts of the key are, a fact which led to Amnesty International condemning the game. By the time I got around to picking up a copy of this, there was a disclaimer in the manual along the lines of "this is the barbaric 22nd century and nobody should think that we are condoning torture". Tactix also voluntarily limited the sale of this game to people over the age of 14. But anyway, back to your prisoners. You can torture them by electrocution, stretching or simply beating them up. You don't actually get to see the torture, which is probably just as well, you just select your desired, er, 'incentive' and the prisoner's response appears in a little window. The responses seem to mostly consist of "I'm telling you nothing" with occasional really cryptic clues along the lines of "The Key segment is on a planet close to here". Well, thanks for that, insolent dog! Have another dose of electricity! If you're feeling merciful though, you can also offer food to the prisoners to try and loosen their tongues. You need money in order to buy food though, which can be obtained by selling some of your prisoners at the shop. While you're at the shop you can also use your money to buy the usual array of ship power-ups, fuel and extra weapons. It's also possible to save your position on a blank disk or visit the Entertainment Area; this is a bit surreal as it just consists of a barely-animated view of a bar with cheesy music in the background. Still, takes ones mind off the grisly business of assassination, eh? All in all, The Executioner is not particularly breathtaking in animation, graphics or sound but it's not a bad implementation of Thrust, if perhaps a bit ethically questionable.