From the limited amount of info I had to go on when I first got this I really expected to be confronted by some sort of beat-'em-up. And what d'you know, I was right. And then again, I was wrong. Let me explain...
Vendetta is a beat-em-up all right, but it's also a driving game and a bit of an all-round puzzler as well. In fact, it's not unlike a bizarre cross between previous System 3 mega-hit Last Ninja and one of those poxy drivey-shooty Roadblasters things. We'll take a look at how it all works in a minute, but first try and imagine if you will that you've been presented with this game (as I was) without any accompanying instructions or even a plot scenario. We'll load it up and start playing it together, and see what we make of it.
Okay, its the first level, and we seem to have been dumped miles from nowhere (if not closer) in some sort of warehouse affair. We've got a knife on us which we can use if we have to, though once you realise everybody else is armed to the teeth with guns and things it suddenly seems a tiny bit useless. Eek! (Let's switch from 'us' mode into 'you' mode at this point - I think it'll be much easier for both of us.)
Right. Luckily, you're bound to find your own gun and bullets sooner or later (although in my case it was later, probably due to the fact that I'm terminally crap) though the odds remain still very much stacked against you. But (but! but!) you're probably asking, "what are you doing in the warehouse in the first place, eh?" Good question, and one I can answer only by cobbling together pieces of the plot I've picked up as I've gone along. Eventually I came up with the following fiendish scenario...
Y'See, there are some terrorists, and they've kidnapped this girlie 'cos they went her dad, a nuclear scientist, to build them a big missile to play with. It's your job to rescue the girl, stop professor from handing over the missile to terrorists and then, um, kill them all (or something). Easy. (Not that you really pay attention to this though. Nope, you're far too busy scampering all over the shop causing a bit of a riot, you scamp!)
What This all really boils down to is lots of puzzles of the 'how do I work out how to get onto the next lever variety?' For instance; your first task is to suss out how to use the car you find at the end of Level One (and no, I'm not going to tell you). As you work your way around loadsa buildings (and some vast outside areas too) you keep coming across variations on your basic 'open drawers and boxes to find lots of objects and keep them to use whenever necessary' puzzle thingy, just like you had in the two Last Ninja games in fact. Like those, everything's drawn in a sort of 3D where you can walk back into the screen by pushing 'Up', if you see what I mean (although I doubt that you do).
Generally these arcade adventure/beat 'em-up sequences are quite good - the puzzles aren't too taxing (but not too easy either), graphics are clear (if a little monochrome) and it all fits together very nicely, thank you. As well as different puzzles to out, each level has pieces of evidence to collect. Sooner or later on your travels you're bound to get stopped by the fuzz, who'll abruptly nick you if you haven't collected enough of this evidence stuff to prove you're not just some crazed loony who's running around killing people (though you are) but are in fact a roan with a mission. You've been warned.
As a beat-'em-up it's all a bit limited, mainly because there's a slight restriction on the number of moves available to you (one, actually) and the number of baddies that can appear on-screen at any one time (erm, about one as well), so it's a good job they've provided lots of other stuff to do as well, isn't it?
For instance, every so often you'll find yourself sitting in the front seat of a Ferrari in the 'bonus' driving game bit. Here you simply drive around a bit OutRun-style, and providing you got your weapons card on the first level, shoots at anything that gets in your way (a la Roadblasters). Okay, I admit that it's not exactly the best driving game (or shoot-'em-up) in the history of driving games f(or shoot-'em-ups) but it provides some light relief from all the frenzied puzzle-solving of the main game, so who's complaining?
And there we have it. It's not all that often that someone tries to combine lots of bits of lots of different games together in one like this, and when they do it's rarely that sucesful (anyone remember Beverly Hills Cop from a few months ago?). But I have to say that here that they seem to have pulled it off quite well. The separate bits don't perhaps interact with each other as much as they should (the driving sequences particularly seem a bit like a fish out of water) but generally it all hangs together quite well.
Buying Vendetta just for the beat-'em-up or the driving bits is not a good idea, because they're both a bit crap taken on their own (try two budgies like Renegade and Overlander instead). However, if arcade adventures are your style then this could well be worth a look - it's fun, it's playable and it's got that little bit extra too. Not perhaps a game that really grabs you and won't let go, but I quite liked it, I really did.
(Now please excuse me. I've just realised that it's only two weeks before my GCSE exams and I haven't done any revision yet. Yikes!)
Uh-oh. Partisan Spec-chums should avert their eyes from this review at once and read something else altogether, cos they're not going to like it. Sadly, Vendetta is one of those games which, when you compare the Speccy version to those on other formats, our wonderful machine begins to look like the 10-year-old wrinkly that it is. On the C64 (spit!) this is a lovely game, with stunning isometric-3D graphics in the style of The Last Ninja and loads of excellent, atmospheric beat-'em-up and exploring action. On the Spectrum, though, it's a poor shadow of the original, with a less sophisticated graphic style, no colour, yukky control and crap collision detection. Add all this together and what you get at the end of the day is nothing more than an inferior Double Dragon clone with complications.
Your character treks backwards and forwards through some uninspiring black-and-white landscapes, frequently appearing to walk on top of or right through the supposedly-solid scenery. Occasionally a baddie wanders along and stands in one place for a while, waiting for you to come up and punch him a dozen or so times until he falls down, whereupon he's replaced by another one, and so on until you simply walk off the screen. If you can be bothered, you can punch down doors and so on to find weapons and other useful artefacts, but for what purpose is never really explained, certainly not by the useless instruction manual. Dogged perseverance eventually gets you into a reasonably lively driving-game shoot-'em-up sequence, but it's a short-lived respite. Soon you're more than likely to swear half-heartedly in indifferent distaste for a few seconds and then send the whole thing flying in a lazy yet elegant arc into the bin to lie beside the shattered wreckage of the Navy Moves tape. Well, that's what I did, anyway. Life's far too short to spend it forcing yourself to get to grips with this kind of thing.
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