Some nasties won't accept a 'game-over' when they see it - VENOM, the association of evil people, is on the march again just months after its defeat in Gremlin Grpahics's monochromatic key-collecting game MASK 1 (81% Overall in Issue 45). And so the agents of MASK are back in action (and in colour) too, saving the world in Gremlin's second licence based on the TV series and Kenner Parker toys.
Matt Trakker and his colleagues are faced with three missions. Firstly the president of the Peaceful Nations Alliance has been kidnapped and without him a vital treaty cannot be concluded. He must be rescued and taken to a helipad whence he can fly to the summit talks.
Secondly, VENOM has nearly completed building a base in the Middle East. And as you've guessed, they're out to control oilfields. The base can be destroyed, but only if a missile within it is located and detonated by the MASK team.
An thirdly, a large ruby worshipped by jungle monks has been purloined by VENOM and incorporated into a laser weapon. The gem must be returned and the laser destroyed.
To combat VENOM, you start off by selecting your team members and vehicles. The right choice of vehicles is essential, though fortunately you can get different ones as the game progresses and conditions change.
There are five MASK vehicles: the Thunder Hawk (sports car/jet), the Rhino (an armed battering ram), the Condor (a motorbike-cum-helicopter) and the Gator (an off-road vehicle that converts into a hydroplane).
All MASK vehicles are heavily armed, because VENOM might attack in land-based craft, submarines or helicopters. If a MASK vehicle is damaged, it can aquire extra armour - provided the damage isn't too severe. Otherwise it has to be abandoned.
Running out of fuel is another hazard, and the Thunder Hawk uses rather a lot.
It's bound to be a dangerous and exciting day for MASK. And no doubt at the end there'll be another licence.
Joysticks: Cursor, Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: very colourful with detailed sprites
Sound: few sound effects and a simple tune
This is an amazing change from MASK 1. The whole concept is much more attractive and playable - with the graphics being the most impressive feature. However, thought the action is fast and involving, I never felt in full control of what was going on; the collision-detection is very suspect, too, and lacks consistency. Still, it's much better-looking than MASK 1, and a much stronger tie-in.'
PAUL ... 82%
'The difference between this and the last MASK game are incredible. MASK 1 was just another boring scrolling-background game, but here the graphics have been excellently-drawn and colour has been used to great effect. Each mission is as exciting as the previous, because the objectives are so different, and MASK II is a top class game.'
NICK … 90%
You know those games with brilliant graphics and astounding gameplay that are just so utterly sponditious that herds of wildebeest couldn't drag you from your joystick? You do? Well, I'm afraid that Mask II isn't one of them (haw haw haw).
Game in nutshell time: First up, pick your team. You can choose three from a possible five members of the MASK organisation . Each member has his own vehicle and each vehicle its own worth over certain terrain. A sort of Transformers variant, you can opt for a car that doubles as a plane, a buggy that becomes a boat or you might even want the lorry that turns into a banana (are you quite sure about that?).
Anyway, having picked your troubleshooting MASK team, it's onto the missions, of which there are three. Hold on a minute, there's a message staring at me from the minitor. It says: "Press play on tape". Yaaaarrrghh........ It's a multi-load!! You'd better go and clean the budgie' s cage or - something while it's loading. Turn te tum te diddly diddly dum (carries on in this vein for several minutes). Aah, it's in. Are you back? Right. I'll continue.
What we have here is a left/right scrolling shoot 'em up with interchangeable craft. Oh dear, I'm the lorry at the moment and I'm about to fall into some water. Quick, press the keyboard to change vehicles. Great . I'm in the car now, and now I can fly, so off I zoom to the right as the screen scrolls (a mite jerkily) towards me. Continuing in this fashion; switching between vehicles, avoiding land-mines, shooting anything that moves and picking up bonus fuel/stamina points b y driving over the relevant icons, you can soon hope to complete the first mission (i.e. collecting a small digitized cartoon of Ronnie 'Raygun' and transporting it to the heliport - which you passed en route). It's easy - I did it on my fourth go. Missions two and three (once you've loaded them) are much, much harder, but frankly that is somewhat due to the sluggish and inconsistent directional control.
What with slightly garish screens, unengaging sprites and the wibbly scrolling, this "product tie-in sequel" will only really appeal to hardened Mask fans.
Now for a joke. Cripes, I can't think of one.
|Value For Money||6/10|
Matt Trakker is one of those good, clean, all-American, cleft-chin individuals who you just know is going to put things right. So when VENOM start kicking up the most almighty fuss, it's going to be Matt who gets in there and sorts the rotten so and sos out.
But what happens when there are just too many bad guys for our hero? You get a team together boy.
That's what Gremlin's MASK II is all about really. Teamwork. The game is made up of three missions, each mission requiring different agents to complete it successfully. successfully.
MASK headquarters is at Boulder Hill, and it's here, in the MASK canteen, or something similar, that all the agents are sitting rapping at the end of a long hard day. Suddenly, an alert warning flashes on the screen, followed by one of the three mission briefings. Choose a mission, and then select your agents, using the MASK computer. A MASK icon can be moved around the screen, and as it touches each agent's chair, a picture of him will be built up on the right-hand side, together with details of his vehicle and his codename.
Once you've chosen three agents, you load in the mission, and off you go. Because each mission takes place in very different terrains, you need to make sure that you have the right agents with the right vehicles. Matt's car becomes a jet the motorbike becomes a helicopter and the big truck thingy becomes a hydroplane. Not that a hydroplane would be much use to you in a jungle, mind, so you can forget that one for a start.
Now comes the real skill, as you hurtle across the landscape, scrolling at furious speed into all those evil VENOM agents, using the appropriate vehicle at the appropriate moment. No use trying to drive your motorbike through the river - better change to the speed boat instead. Luckily, the vehicles convert themselves to appropriate form automatically.
Apart from that, the gameplay is what one would expect. High speed chases across desert and jungle locations, with a good look at the VENOM base itself to boot.
And very good it looks too. The graphics are nice and big, and a lot of the VENOM agents appear to drive Renault 5s, which made me think that they can't be as bad as everyone makes out.
On the chase around the town level. MASK II is great. It's fast, furious, and mighty tricky. Just keep going and firing, and maybe you'll get to the end, maybe not. And if you take into consideration the nifty selection process, which is truly impressive to look at, not to mention the necessity of changing between vehicles are precisely the right moment, then you have yourself a pretty whacky game.
Author: Chris Kerry
More Venom from Gremlin.
Boulder Hill, the home of do-gooders M.A.S.K. is the starting point for another attack against do-badders VE.N.O.M. That Vicious, Evil, Network Of Mayhem have upset everybody by kidnapping the president and it's down to you to save him.
The game is played over a right-to-left scrolling terrain (full of flying, crawling, swimming and driving VENOM agents) with the player controlling one of three MASK vehicles. Initially the player has to make his choice of vehicle from a selection of five possibles. Each one has peculiar characteristics which have to be considered before selection Thunderhawk (car) can transform into an airborne attack craft at will, whereas Gator turns into a high speed power boat on contact with water. Switching between vehicles is easily achieved at the press of a key, and is necessary in order to complete the three different missions in the game.
If you're a fan of the toys, or you enjoyed the first MASK game, then you will find MASK II just as much fun.
Reviewer: Andy Smith
C64/128, £9.99cs, £14.99dk, Imminent
Spec, £7.99cs, Out Now
Ams, £9.99cs, £14.99dk, Imminent
MSX, £7.99cs, Imminent
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