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Express Raider (Commodore 64) artwork

Express Raider (Commodore 64) review

"Your job in this game is to successfully rob a multitude of trains. Unfortunately, it isn't as easy as a ride as the manual and box make it out to be... "

Your job in this game is to successfully rob a multitude of trains. Unfortunately, it isn't as easy as a ride as the manual and box make it out to be...

First, there are the skill levels : Practice, Normal and Hard. Practice lets you play through the first two levels repeatedly with 32 lives in your pocket. Granted, this makes it tough to lose, indeed. But even the worst players will have about twenty-some lives left after two or three trips through just these two stages. Then what? Unfortunately, the only ways to quit are to either lose all your lives or reboot the system. As for the other two, the only difference between Normal and Hard is that Hard strips you of your continues while Normal gives you a few to help you along.

Then, the game is on! You start by having to beat up one of the passengers(I assume). You have to hurry, though, as the train is pulling out of the station. If you miss it, you have to start the fight over, minus one life. The fight is shown by a large pink bar. If it becomes completely pink, you win. If it becomes completely black...Well, you lose a life. After you beat him, you have to leap dogs(or whatever those orange streaks are) until the caboose ''catches up to you''. It seems strange to be penalized because of finishing the fight faster, but that's just a minor offense as both of these challenges are still relatively simple. Once you are on board, you have to fight car after car of passengers, most in the fashion that you just used on the first guy. This would be fine if combat were not as dull as it is in this game. You can literally breeze through the fights with just one move(I'll let others discover which one it is).

Upon entering the second stage, you are informed of a shoot-out on horse-back. Does that mean more live action fighting? Sadly, in this case, yes. You get ride a poorly animated horse as you shoot at the enemy. The enemies in this stage will pop out randomly from behind cover to take pop-shots at you. Your character won't move very fast, meaning you have a good chance of being hit(although you can shoot the projectiles). Your problem usually won't be the projectiles, though. It will be the timer, as you are given 30 seconds per car to hit six targets, else you lose another life! With your slow moving character, plus the random pattern the enemies take in popping in and out(they stay out for about 1 second after they shoot something), you will be hard pressed to get four targets, much less six, before the timer runs out. Even worse, you are given no crosshairs to aim with. You have to make educated guesses as to where the shots will land, making the timer even more tedious.

Should you make it to the end of the second stage, you will find....The first stage? That's right. You must complete the third stage, which is nearly a carbon copy first stage. The same goes for the fourth and second, and so on and so on....until you beat the ''eighth'' stage, where you are given a semi-lousy ending for all your work.

Well, here's the rating for each category, for those who skipped directly here :

Graphics : 6

The men in the first stage were animated nicely. Also, the attacks and the train look realistic(from this game's time period). Sadly, the people had no facial features, nor did anything else look as good....

Sound/Music : 8

Almost all of the sounds were very realistic. From the clanging of the signposts(should you connect with a sign), to the clicking of the train on the tracks, to the hoof-beats from the horse ride. The music, however, was nothing spectacular. Just a short tune here or there to keep the mood.

Controls : 7

While the controls were responsive for all modes, the horse ride controls were sluggish. Also, in the odd-numbered stages, you cannot go from a crawling position to a kneeling position. You must release down, push right, then hold down-right. This will often get you shot, punched, etc., in the process.

Gameplay : 5

It's a little unique to play the bad guy, and it can be fun at first. However, since all it does is repeat the first two stages over and over, there's very little variety. Also, the short timer can easily get on your nerves.

Challenge : 9

Good luck beating this game on your first time through! Going through eight stages in a row with five non-replenishable lives is likely to wipe out any novice around(especially with the previously-mentioned horse ride).

Final Score : 6

I'll admit, despite the flaws, I had a good time for a while. But, while it looks nice, it is unlikely to enthrall and enchant you. Maybe you can find an old copy for sale somewhere and try it for nostalgia's sake. However, I don't recommend going crazy looking for it....

MercenaryCobra1's avatar
Community review by MercenaryCobra1 (July 11, 2007)

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