Want to know one sign of a really brilliant game? The reviewer has to be dragged away from it to write the review.
And Xecutor is one such magnetic game.
It's a shoot-'em up from Ace, a new label which is basically The Edge doing arcade games.
Xecutor is also about the only thing that is going to give Zynaps any sort of competition.
There is no plot worth discussing in the game. It's about firing fast and dodging faster, about precision control of your space fighter and instant reflexes. That's the basic requirements of any arcade game but, like Zynaps before it, Xecutor is also a blinding technical achievement. It looks great and plays even better.
Comparisons with Zynaps are inevitable though unfair in some respects since Xecutor has plenty of features which are uniquely its own.
It scrolls from top to bottom - like Lightforce - and features a variant on what is rapidly becoming this season's big trend - namely firepower bonuses. This is where your ship begins the game armed with only a rickety old laser which splutters fairly uselessly at the bad guys, but where collecting bonus points can win you more serious weaponry.
In Xecutor you can graduate from intermittent laser beam to double speed to double barrel to torpedoes to spray-fire, 360' blasts and so on.
You can get to be pretty mean.
To begin with the aliens sweep moderately slowly across the screen - the problem is not so much avoiding them or the bullets they occasionally drop, but actually killing them all.
It is only by wiping out a complete wave of aliens that you get a bonus symbol and this is the only way you have of surviving later waves Basically if you don't wipe out all the first wave of aliens you might as well just forget it...
The bonus system works in an interesting way. If the bonus star comes up on screen you can either collect it - by flying over it - or shoot it.
Collecting it gives you the current level of firepower - as indicated by an icon on the right-hand side of the screen - and sets the icon back to zero.
On the other hand you can simply shoot the bonus star - this doesn't change your firepower but instead advances the weapon select icon. Thus in Xecutor you have to constantly decide whether to take the weapons on offer or to take a chance on getting something more dangerous the next time you clear a wave.
One thing is certain, if you want to acquire meaningful points in this game you are going to need, at the very least, photon torpedoes because at the end of the level you get The Big Alien.
The Big Alien which reappears in many guises throughout the game spits out bullets and needs to be hit dozens of times before it turns into a fighter and chases you around the screen. H you manage to blast it then, and only then, do you get to Stage 2. The destruction of the big alien is pretty spectacular. Bits of metal come spinning off at all directions as it disintegrates only to reform as a fighter Fabulous stuff.
Graphically Xecutor is more than you could hope for. Large coloured sprites, smooth scrolling, inventive details, the lot. Whatever happened to attribute clash? Xecutor has never heard of it.
If the quality of Spectrum software gets any higher people will start trading in their STs!
Reviewer: Graham Taylor
Re-released incredibly quickly after its full-price launch, Xecutor was described in its original SU review as, "A blinding technical achievement... looks good and plays even better." Although basically it's a straightforward vertically-scrolling shoot-'em-up, it has a couple of features which make it stand out from the crowd. For start there's a two-player simultaneous option. As the wonderfully-detailed backgrounds scroll past you, you just zap the waves of enemy fighters, and knock out laser bases. These leave behind weapons pods which you can pick up to add multiple lasers, smart bombs and shields to your arsenal. In two-player mode, you can either play co-operatively or competitively, destroying the weapons you don't need so your partner can't pick them up.
At the end of each level you get a lovely multi-weapon mothership to destroy, and on later levels dodging through the ironmongery becomes as challenging as seeing off the fighters. Excellent buy.
Label: Micro Selection
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins
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