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Line of Fire

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Released: 1990

Genre: Shoot-’em-up

Format reviewed: Atari ST

Publisher: US Gold

Developer: Creative Materials

Submitted by: Dave Skillin

Back in the day, one of the most common complaints from Commodore Amiga owners was that their machine received too many ports of games that were designed for the Atari ST and didn't use their machine's superior hardware. There was a very good reason for the design process working this way, as anyone who played an ST port of an Amiga game could tell you. Line of Fire is a perfect example.

LoF was a popular arcade machine back in the late 80s/early 90s; an Operation Wolf clone that used some pretty nifty sprite scaling techniques to move the battlefield around the player and keep them on their toes. It bombarded the players with insane amounts of ordinance and was generally a lot of fun.

The humble 16-bit micro was never going to be powerful enough to run a faithful version of such a game, but Creative Materials did about as good a job as could be expected on the Amiga. The levels ran along at a good lick and were similar enough, although the difficulty level had been noticeably ramped up. Hardly a classic, but playable.

The ST version was practically identical, yet should never have been released, as Atari's machine obviously wasn't up to the task. Atari LoF runs at a ludicrously slow pace, often barely scraping a single frame per second. Sections that last little more than a minute or two on the Amiga drag on for an eternity here.

The hilarious side effect of this is that a game with a stiff difficulty level becomes a walk in the park. Max Payne may have brought Bullet Time to the PC, but Line of Fire unintentionally invented it back in 1990.

That isn't the only problem, however; the colour palette has been reduced to the point that the sprites are hideously ugly, which is a big drawback as there's plenty of time to study them at leisure. The audio has also been reduced to a couple of pitiful chip noises to which silence seems a blessed alternative.

Pity any unsuspecting soul who purchased this for the RRP of £24.99. I picked it up for a fiver in a sale at Boots but, like a truly awful movie, it was almost worth the money in comedy gold.