- Manufacturer: U.S. Gold
- Versions: Amiga, Apple II, Atari ST, Commodore, IBM PC
Technocop, a hybrid driving/action-adventure game from Epyx/U.S. Gold, is a perfect example of a software project that f is all idea and no execution. Conceptually similar to Gray Matter's successful Road Raider (Mindscape), Technocop also offers a two-in-one game package in which a driving program is used to shuttle the player from location to location, where the player-character leaves his vehicle and heads, on foot, into an arcade-style adventure scenario. Sadly, all comparisons end here.
It's interesting that many of the same people worked on both Technocop and Road Raider, including co-creators (with Imagexcel) Gray Matter. It's amazing how the same basic idea, being handled by many of the same creative people, could go in such diverse directions.
Technocop's driving scenario is basically Crazy Cars with weapons. The player-character's vehicle, the VMAX, comes with what is described as a "side-mounted machine gun", though it does not rapid-fire. Employing Pole Position-like perspective, with the VMAX always seen in the foreground, the player uses rudimentary joystick commands (fast, slow, left, right and fire) to get the car from one crime scene to the next in search of a gang of thugs dubbed "DOA". Although the VMAX boasts five gears, they shift automatically. Even such gizmos as a Turbo Charger (for sudden bursts of speed), hydraulic wheel rams and nuclear bombs (no kidding!) can't accelerate the driving phase of the game out of first gear.
Supplemental weapons are automatically fitted onto the VMAX, one at a time, as a reward for arriving at crime scenes in the allotted time. Extra points are earned by either blowing up or driving DOA vehicles off the road.
Once the VMAX reaches a crime scene, the game shifts into a horizontally-scrolling, slightly angled side-perspective action game. Underneath the visual display is a blow-up of a techno-flatfoot's Wrist Command Console, containing a Crime Computer, weapon-select toggle, radar, clock, lives remaining, health, strength and score readouts. The Crime Computer communicates current orders, specifically whether the suspect must be taken alive or if they only need the pieces. To this end, the weapon select permits the player to switch between a gun (the "88 Magnum", an excellent choice when hunting dinosaurs with a handgun, but disgustingly excessive as an anti-personnel weapon) and a net, which neatly wraps up villains. The downside of the net is that it takes longer to fire and, for some inscrutable reason, cannot be launched from a kneeling position. Radar is necessary because by the time a DOA member actually appears on the play-screen, it is too late for the policeman to react to him.
The driving game has several problems, many the result of sloppy programming. For example, cars have a disturbing tendency to drive through other cars, without invoking any sort of collision effect. Perhaps the worst element of the game, though, is its unfathomable concept: it seems like everyone on the road, outside of the title character, is a bad guy. If a gang like DOA controlled the highways to this extent, they'd be sending the army out after them, not a lone copper with a net gun.
Far worse, however, is the sickening animation which is used to visually describe the result of a gunshot from the trusty "38 Magnum". Victims literally explode, and it's not a pretty sight.
Despite its slick graphics and gory violence, Technocop's major failing is that it lacks creative input. It's a simple fusion of two game genres with the seams still visible.