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First there was a tank, then came a hydrofoil. Now it's time to trundle of! into the past at the footplate of a train, all courtesy of Electronic Arts. Their latest venture into the world of simulations is set in wartime Germany. You take the part o! a resistance fighter who, along with a colleague, tries to steal a train with France's art treasures on board. ('Will the person taking the train from platform four please put it back.) The works of art are being shipped to Berlin to use as leverage in the impending German surrender.

The question you, me and they want to know, though, is whether Electronic Arts make it four excellent games in as many months with their latest offering, or are have they, as it were, run out of steam? Play begins at the station in Metz where you must first capture the train You stand towards the rear of the train and give Le Due covering fire as he tries to reach the signal box. Germans are hiding in the railway buildings and pop up occasionally to fire at you. Get your retaliation in first or the game's over. When Le Due reaches the box you choose the difficulty level: easy, intermediate or expert. You then have to cover Le Due as he returns: then it's time to deépart.

The view switches to the inside of the tram's cab and the simulation part of the game takes over. You have six things to operate in the cab: throttle, furnace, brake, forward/reverse lever, steam blow off and whistle There are also three dials which indicate steam pressure, engine temperature and speed. When your engine is all steamed up release the brake, open up the throttle and away you go. Keeping the pressure up is essential, so periodically fill the furnace with coal: run out and you've had it Keep an eye, too, on steam pressure, which can be released with the blow off lever - let it get out of control and the engine could blow.

To change direction you have to stop the train and move the forward/ reverse lever. Don't flip the lever when the train's moving, though, because the gears will be destroyed and the train can only travel in the direction it was going when you switched the lever. (Signals are sent with the whistle, of which more later.)

There are four other screens which can be called up: front gunner, rear gunner, map and status. The gunner screens are used to shoot at any attacking enemy aircraft. On the map screen a small cross represents the train, blobs are stations and rectangles bridges. If a station or bridge is blue then the Germans (hiss) have control of it: pink means the resistance have it (hooray). A status screen shows the dam age sustained by the boiler, brake and art and also how many of the enemy you've killed. Your score is calculated using these figures.

You have to reach Riviere before dawn and there are a myriad ways to achieve your destination. A network of railway lines covers France and there are many points at which you can change track. You need first to signal the resistance - who'll switch the points for you - with one, two or three blasts on the whistle.

As you travel towards your destination you need to stock up on coal and water, which can only be obtained at stations. Before you can refuel the station must be captured. The sequence is very similar to the start-up phase and more Germans stand in the buildings. If you capture the station you gain some intelligence information, often being a warning that parts of the railway network have been destroyed. A message can also be sent to the resistance to tell them to capture a bridge or station, or arrange for repairs to the train. You don't have to stop in a station: you can just go straight through.

Bridges are a much more dangerous proposition altogether. If the bridge is held by the resistance there are no problems, but German controlled ones are guarded by boats. Trying to go straight across a bridge is fatal, since the boats easily pick you off. To cross a bridge you must first stop at the bridge ana then blast the boats out of the water. Once they've all been sunk you can safely cross. Too many hits on the train and it's game over.

Sound is fairly simple but good - just machine gun effects and several different train noises. The graphics of the cab are good; but the rest are more functional than anything else.

I had high hopes for The Train on Electronic Arts'recent record, but... It's still a good game, but it lacks that certain something to make it a truly excellent game. The mixture of arcade elements and simulation works OK, but you do tire of the regular air attacks.

FIRST DAY TARGET: Reach Riviere on easy level



Program: Nick Wilson
Graphics: IMAGitec Design

★ YEAR: 1988



» The  TrainDATE: 2010-06-02
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L'alinéa 8 de l'article L122-5 du Code de la propriété intellectuelle explique que « Lorsque l'œuvre a été divulguée, l'auteur ne peut interdire la reproduction d'une œuvre et sa représentation effectuées à des fins de conservation ou destinées à préserver les conditions de sa consultation à des fins de recherche ou détudes privées par des particuliers, dans les locaux de l'établissement et sur des terminaux dédiés par des bibliothèques accessibles au public, par des musées ou par des services d'archives, sous réserve que ceux-ci ne recherchent aucun avantage économique ou commercial ». Pas de problème donc pour nous!

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L'Amstrad CPC est une machine 8 bits à base d'un Z80 à 4MHz. Le premier de la gamme fut le CPC 464 en 1984, équipé d'un lecteur de cassettes intégré il se plaçait en concurrent  du Commodore C64 beaucoup plus compliqué à utiliser et plus cher. Ce fut un réel succès et sorti cette même années le CPC 664 équipé d'un lecteur de disquettes trois pouces intégré. Sa vie fut de courte durée puisqu'en 1985 il fut remplacé par le CPC 6128 qui était plus compact, plus soigné et surtout qui avait 128Ko de RAM au lieu de 64Ko.