THE GREAT ESCAPE (SPECTRUM)
You play an English POW trying to escape from a German camp in the last war. The main screen display reveals a section of the scrolling prison compound — or if you are indoors the room is shown from the usual 3D game angle. To begin with it’s a good idea to leave the controls well alone — the hero goes, about the daily grind of prison life with the other prisoners and you get an idea of what’s going on. A normal day consists of parades, meals and exercise periods, all marked by a bell displayed in the status area which rings out loud and clear. A message window gives an update on events in the camp and explains the reason for the bell’s clamour.
A flag flying from a pole to the left of the main play area serves a number of functions. The higher the flag flies, the higher the morale of the central character. Whenever a Red Cross parcel arrives or the hero succeeds in picking up or using an item of escape equipment, his morale improves. Morale is lowered with searches and arrests and gradually diminishes as time elapses. Once the flag reaches the bottom of the pole, the potential escapee loses his will to rejoin the war and becomes resigned to plodding around the camp with the other prisoners. You lose control, and have to start a new game.
While the flag is green you have limited control and the hero can only be searched by the Camp Commandant — should he find any contraband, it’s off to the cells, so it’s wise to keep out of his way. The flag turns red as soon as the escapee breaks with routine and moves off limits. While the flag is red objects can be picked up and dropped, but the would-be escaper is liable to arrest and search by the guards.
Once you’ve established the routine of the camp, it’s time to play for real and start planning the escape. Unfortunately, only two items can be secreted in the old greatcoat, so it’s a good idea to find safe hiding places for useful items — if the guards find objects, they confiscate them, returning them to their original location.
The guards are fairly predictable fellows — once they’ve been assigned a patrol route by the Commandant, they follow it regularly and can be timed. So long as you don’t cross their line of sight they won’t notice you, but they are mindful of the wrath of the patrolling Commandant who moves around the camp inspecting them, so the guards keep alert. To begin with, security is fairly lax, but the Commandant steps up security when the hero is caught out of bounds and avoiding the guards becomes trickier. During the night, searchlights sweep the courtyard and prisoners outside the huts get arrested on sight. Maybe wearing German uniform might help here?
Points are awarded for escape attempts and for collecting and using objects. There are a number of routes out of the camp: use a tunnel, cut the wire, or bluff your way past the sentries at the main gates. Whichever way you go out, once outside you’ll need a compass and some papers or you won’t get very far..
It was a fantastic little game for the time and had me bolting home from work just to get on it lol.