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Take 'em Out (Amiga) artwork

Take 'em Out (Amiga) review


"The intriguing story of police-cadet Murphy is not told in this game. In fact, the direct writing is almost non-existent. There is a dire tune being played on the loading screens, along with an equally dire and business-like voice reminding you to “fire when ready” at the shooting range. But beyond this, there's absolutely no context offered whatsoever. You are special forces. And you are shooting lawbreakers until there is no one left. The game then prompts “no one left – moving on to new targe..."



The intriguing story of police-cadet Murphy is not told in this game. In fact, the direct writing is almost non-existent. There is a dire tune being played on the loading screens, along with an equally dire and business-like voice reminding you to “fire when ready” at the shooting range. But beyond this, there's absolutely no context offered whatsoever. You are special forces. And you are shooting lawbreakers until there is no one left. The game then prompts “no one left – moving on to new target”. That is really all Murphy does.

There is something with this game that makes you remember it, though. It is not necessarily the bloody and relatively realistic animation. The game had multi-stage animation for the sprites – or animation that could be interrupted and played back and forth and fitted to the final death-animation depending on the state the earlier animation was in - which was unusual at the time. And it does improve the visual flow in the game. The death-screams also are satisfyingly visceral and unique for each type of enemy. Whether it is a generic grunt, a Rambo character jumping out of a garbage can, or a Shredder look-a-like (yeah, you read that right) falling from the top of the building. And then backwards into a window, crashing all the way down into the basement. The gun-sounds as well are solid, loud, and individual for each weapon – also unusual for that type of game. But that is not what makes the game memorable.

What does is the thread that goes through the three scenarios, and that somehow lures you into feeling genuine suspense when playing. You start on the shooting range. On the shooting range, you fire at human-sized targets that appear slowly at first. Then faster and faster in three stages. If you take down enough of the targets, you can continue to the next stage. But the game does not explain this mechanic to you – somehow there is instant pressure involved to do as well as possible. And you are not certain exactly how many points you need. But once you achieve a good rhythm, hitting almost all of the targets will be possible, even when they go faster and faster. At that point, you feel in control.

The game then suddenly declares “cease fire”, the targets stop, and the echoes of the gun-shots disappear. And after a pause, it declares business-like whether you can continue or not. Somehow, this is the point where I stop holding my breath every time. When playing a 2d shooter.

If you clear the target range, it's off to the first “live” mission. For this you will choose two out of four weapons (one for each button – ambiguous button-design in the game is a nice touch). We then go through the loading screen with the dire music – which then moves on to a steady ambient pulse sound during the mission. The colours in this mission are relatively bright. The enemies are not too difficult. And in a way the animation is fairly laughable at this point. So just fire off the ammo you have, duck behind your trusty (and apparently bullet-proof trashcan) to reload, and continue on until no targets are left.

You're suddenly back at the shooting range again. This time it's a skeet-shoot, and it's pretty difficult. But if you can keep your pace, not waste too much ammo (you will run out if you miss too much), you will clear that level as well.

The next scenario then has the same music, the same trashcan to hide behind while reloading – but a completely new set of enemies, and a new and darker colour scheme. Somehow the music seems a bit more dire than before. And the same goes for the mission clear prompt towards the end. The tone and pace increased, although it's the exact same game with the exact same mechanics.

To actually achieve something like that in a game seemed like magic to me back then. And while the graphics in the game is not going to impress anyone today, there's still something to be said for the lack of endless reuse of animation for setting the tone in the different stages. As well as the successful progression through the game. From the shooting range, to the live targets, and off to the “real” missions afterwards.

Take 'em Out is a 2d shooting gallery game, indirectly narrating the intriguing tale of cadet Murphy. A perfect playthrough will take you approximately 15 minutes, and will reduce your hand and wrist to a shivering and painful mess.

Rating: 8/10

fleinn's avatar
Community review by fleinn (February 18, 2011)

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