Ultimate Combat Mission
by Playability By Design: Dave Thompson, Dennis Mulliner
Mastertronic Added Dimension
Crash Issue 47, December 1987   (1987-11-26)   page(s) 128

Mandroid and Warmonger... names that turn the bowels of hardened men to water, perhaps the two most dangerous criminals to ever appear on the Spectrum screen.

Imprisoned in a satellite that orbits Earth, they've got out onto the roof - and they're not just holding up placards. These two have every intention of escaping. But guards soon appear on the scene, and our two protagonists will have to be more vicious and ruthless than ever before.

In one-player mode you control Warmonger; in two-player mode each player handles one of the maniacs.

They're equipped with forward-firing blasters and earn points (and thus extra lives) for every prison guard picked off.

But the escapees are blaster targets too. And when a few guards get together in a group, they can turn their fire upon Mandroid and Warmonger whichever direction the criminals take.

And even when you're a master criminal, playing on building sites is dangerous - some sections of the space prison are incomplete.

Joysticks: Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: nicely-animated; monochromatic
Sound: great Dave Whittaker tunes on 48 and 128K
Options: one or two players; definable keys

'A wickedly addictive game with fantastic sound on the 128K version, U.C.M. has graphics very like Mikro-Gen's Stainless Steel, with bas-relief sprites and detailed backgrounds. The only problem is that Warmonger moves rather slowly. But the way the bazooka explodes is brilliant!'
NICK ... 83%

'It's a pity Warmonger moves so slowly - this makes the difference between being the best and lust being very good! The graphics are adequate, though minuscule, and the lack of colour doesn't affect the outstanding playability of U.C.M.. And the level of difficulty is just right - between frustration and addiction.'
MIKE ... 89%

'Butch Hard Guy is back! The eponymous star of Dave Thompson's first game seems tougher than ever this time, and he's changed his name to Warmonger... U.C.M. is very simple but superbly presented, though like most vertically-scrolling monochrome games it has a display problem. (In this case, it's difficult distinguishing the enemy's bullets from your own.) U.C.M. scores highest in playability - you just have to have one more game. And though it's a bit tough to start with, perseverance is rewarded with bonuses: the graphics get better the further you go. So forget Ikari Warriors - judging from the demo on CRASH Issue 45, U.C.M. has the Elite game beat before it gets off the ground.'
PAUL ... 88%

Summary: General Rating: An addictive, mindlessly violent shoot-'em-up.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 26, February 1988   page(s) 35

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Nope, it's a giant orbiting prison that has been constructed above the Earth's surface to contain the world's most dangerous prisoners. And guess who's stuck in it and pretty keen to escape? Yup, you, in this case playing the part of a mercenary called Warmonger.

The prison consists of a series of platforms which scroll vertically up the screen. They're patrolled by armed guards, so as well as trying to avoid falling off the platforms it's a good idea to dodge the guards' bullets. If you can find the time, why not dispatch one or two of them with your pump-action machine gun, or a rocket launcher if you can find one?

And there's more! If you've got a friend handy (unlikely if you're a true Trainspotter) he can become Mandroid, history's most dangerous man, and you can march hand-in-hand down the aisle to defeat the enemy. Once you've done this you'll be able to clamber into a waiting shuttle and travel first class back to earth.

First impressions of UCM are of a very neat little Ikari Warriors clone. The scrolling is smooth and the sprites are neatly drawn and animated. Unfortunately, the collision detection is a bit dodgy, so it's best to give the guards a wide berth and pour several shots into each of them to be on the safe side. If you're one of the elite few with a 128K Speccy, there are even some cool tunes to get you into the feel of things.

Where the game falls down is in its lack of variety. There are no extra stages or different soldiers to blast. The terrain is just the same design all the way through, and things start to get a bit tedious after a while. Still, it's got a few hours life in it and the two-player option brightens it up a bit.

Hardly an earth-shattering title, but for under three quid it's certainly got potential.

Value For Money8/10
Summary: A fairly average scrolling shoot 'em up. Cheap and cheerful.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 70, January 1988   page(s) 91

There isn't a great deal to choose between them - Mandroid evil criminal synthesis of metal and flesh or Warmonger the greatest combat soldier now turned evil. The two of them are locked up on a prison platform a hundred miles above the earth's surface.

The idea of UCM (Ultimate Combat Mission) is that you are Mandroid or Warmonger, ie one of the bad guys and you want out. You choose to play one or the other at the beginning of the game depending on how human or droidy you feel. The other difference is in your equipment. The Droid has a slow but far firing laser the human has a fast action but short-ranged machine gun.

The actual game is not that astounding unfortunately. Small little sprites which trundle over a rather dull background.

It isn't rubbish - the programming is too good for that - but basically you'll fall asleep long before you get to the final screen.

Label: MAD
Author: David Thompson
Price: £2.99
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Graham Taylor

Summary: A sort of futuristic Commando. Competently programmed, but lacking the variety to hold the interest.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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