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Cannon Fodder (Amiga) artwork

Cannon Fodder (Amiga) review


"Sensible Software took soccer and made it slick, speedy and easy to pick up and play, resulting in the cult classic Sensible Soccer. Using the same mechanics they turned their attention to warfare. Strip away a soccer pitch and replace it with a maze of trees; replace match day kits with uniforms and swap the away team for a gun totting army, and you have Cannon Fodder. While the genre and aims are nothing alike, it is just as attractive and addictive as their accomplished take on ..."



Sensible Software took soccer and made it slick, speedy and easy to pick up and play, resulting in the cult classic Sensible Soccer. Using the same mechanics they turned their attention to warfare. Strip away a soccer pitch and replace it with a maze of trees; replace match day kits with uniforms and swap the away team for a gun totting army, and you have Cannon Fodder. While the genre and aims are nothing alike, it is just as attractive and addictive as their accomplished take on the beautiful game. Although it is a twitchy top down shooter with the subtly of a flashbang grenade, it also treats the difficult subject matter of war in an innovative and mature way.

How you play is, in a word, sensible: directing your boys from an overhead perspective with the left mouse button, you rain hot lead in real time by clicking the right. Mission objectives include 'kill all enemies' and 'destroy all buildings' - which amounts to zipping around from point to point, throwing your aiming reticule around and spraying anything not covered with leaves. Due to the docile enemy threat (until they group up) it is a run and gun affair - a low budget action blockbuster as huts explode and bodies literally bounce and fly away in a bloody mess. Imagine Rambo with ants, looking through a magnifying glass. Later missions require you to split up troops to cover others crossing a river or to flank enemies, but generally the action is streamlined and instantly satisfying as you click your way to genocide. Missions are short, sweet and perfectly timed for microwave popcorn as you battle through sweltering forests and frozen mountains in the name of peace.

The game handles itself in a jovial manner; from the opening cheesy theme song to the simplicity of the controls (played entirely through the mouse) it never fails to entertain. Overlooking limitless respawning enemies (from undestroyed huts) and troops getting stuck on treelines, your failings are put down to your inability and not that of the game. For an action game to have these niggles and not to spoil the experience is a rare blessing, and leaves you to get on with the fun.

The gung-ho approach fits the game perfectly and it never fails to make your laugh, including character likenesses of James Dean, Elvis and Norman Wisdom (of all sources!) Mission names are almost entirely pun based, and a chirpy brash tune greets every mission success. Although Cannon Fodder's direction in supplying thrills is as clear as a napalmed forest, it deals with the subject matter of war in some surprisingly effective ways. Once you are into the campaign, the hub acts as a consistent reminder to the darker side of war through a subtle visual device. A lush, bold green hill with a winding path, individually named men line up for duty between missions and replace fallen soldiers. As your troops die, they are buried here and litter the plain with gravestones, acting as a visual barometer of your prowess, and a reminder that those men continually lining up aren't just "cannon fodder." You will mourn the loss of your favorite troops, and kick yourself for trying out that last stupid grenade maneuver. Mission medals are awarded in honor and in vain, adding to the pride and loss of your heroes on the battlefield, providing an unusual engagement to an otherwise straightforward title.

Cannon Fodder excels because it latches onto those war stereotypes you know and love and never fails to entertain whilst delivering them. Straightforward controls and amusing presentation lubricate the action, and although it has an embedded message seemingly at odds with the rest of the package, it adds weight to an otherwise linear title. A gem seemingly forgotten in an era of action shooters, it is one definitely worth returning to.

Rating: 9/10

Crazyreyn's avatar
Community review by Crazyreyn (July 24, 2008)

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