"As far back as I can remember I always wanted to be a gangster." And now I can in this incredibly fun game. Crime Fighter is a turn-based action/strategy/puzzle game using your reflexes and your brain.
Crime Fighter has a bit of a misleading name, you don't actually fight crime but you are a criminal. The storyline is that there is a city where criminals are kings, stores are robbed, cars stolen, banks raided and much more, the police wont help either as everything in this city can be bought for the right price. There is no specific storyline goal except for to be the biggest fish in this dirty lake of crime, which is really good as you are not constricted by any specific missions that you must undertake and the game is very open-ended.
The controls are very simple, you are given the choice of keyboard and mouse, I advise choosing the mouse as you can still use the keyboard on this mode and it becomes far more easier to click objects. All you do is use the cursor keys to move around in the city, you can only move on the road so no strolling across fields for this gangster. You can only move 25 steps, and certain actions take more steps such as robbing stores, however you can also legally buy a car or 'organize' a car which depending on the car can increase the number of moves you make substantially.
This is a game that can have up to 4 people playing on one computer in hotseat(in turns) mode. At the start you get to roll your stregnth, intelligence and brutality, your money is randomly selected. Don't be worried if your stats are too low, they can always be trained up, but obviously the higher the stats the better. You can choose how many points to play to, each criminal action you do gains you points, and each time you get busted/killed you lose points, the more points you get the higher your rank, however there is only a certain number of ranks, so a long game of 500 points would mean that your rank rises slowly as it takes more points to gain a rank.
When you start in the city you are the lowest ranked criminal there at a rating of Beginner, however once you start pickpocketing people in the underground, 'borrowing' some valuable goods from stores at night or smuggling suitcases through airports your rank increases, once you reach the rank of crook the fun really starts, you can recruit gang members from pubs, train them and buy weapons for them, then you can do bigger crimes which require more firepower, however you can also not recruit anyone, use all your money for training yourself and become a one man-killing machine, but its nice to have some hoods when your starting up your own gang. Be careful when hiring though as you only get a name, statement and price from the potential gang-member but no stats, so dont be suprised to find out that Paulie-The-Killer who has a sheep face has very bad stats, there is no way to get rid of a gang member, you can just train him up to be better.
The graphics and animations in the game are EGA/VGA and are not anything great, but they do the job, you can tell most of the buildings apart and its easy enough to see the road, when in combat you can make out what guns the enemies are holding, the sounds however are pretty useless, the only time you need sound is when trying to crack a safe, however you do have the option to turn the sound off, as there is no music in the game either feel free to play some in the background as you wont be missing much out. Beware though, the sounds use internal PC Speaker so its a lot of bleeping if you don't turn it off, however if you use DOSBox then in turns internal speakers into external thankfully.
The game itself can be very addictive with its puzzles and wanting to become the kingpin. The puzzles are randomly selected from a choice depending on what you are trying to do, attempt to steal from a department store and you have to push goods onto a delivery zone and get to the exit within the time-limit, time-limit increases if the puzzle is harder. If you choose to steal from a bank safe then you must figure out the 3 digit combination like an expert safe-cracker listing to the safe when you change the combination. Some puzzles though are incredibly hard, and though the rewards are greater its almost impossible to complete, you can forfeit a puzzle by pressing ESC but then the cops will be after you.
Combat is very simple, you move/tell your guys to attack one by one, once you have finished the other player does the same for thier guys. You can only move and attack adjacently (up, down, left, right, no diagonals), you can attack a longer range depending on the weapon you have, a club will only hit one square away, while a rifle has a far greater reach. There is no friendly fire so don't worry about shooting through your own gangsters.
The range of options you can do in the game is great, choose to rob a bank, get protection from a store, assasinate a person, smuggle goods through airports, be nostalgic and rob a mail train like the good ol' days. Go to the parks and go through a grannies purse or kidnap a kid and hold them for ransom or sell as cheap child labour and much much more. You can also make money legally by taking legal jobs from pubs, or gambling in casinos, or you can buy your own credit store and become a semi-legal loanshark earning money every turn. And don't forget everything in the city has a price so take a visit to the local police station and 'persuade' the cops not to go after you for a while.
This game really shines though when you play with other people, when you have competition the game becomes more fun and your actions are more important as its a race to become the boss of the underworld. The replay value of the game when playing on your own is not very high as it does become repetitive but when playing with other people it has a very high replay value.
While the aesthetics of this game lack finesse, its sheer addictiveness and fun when playing by yourself or with other people puts it very high in my eyes, so go on give it a go and try and be a criminal mastermind.
Note: There is also a beta available on the designer's website which has an update in sound and graphics but gameplay is the same, however there are graphical glitches and bugs.
Review by: Sharp
Mild Violence, Crime
Safe for ages: 13+
640K RAM, MS-DOS, Keyboard, Mouse (Can be run under DOSBox)
Note: Once zip is extracted, run the Archive.exe file to automatically extract the required files to the current folder, or use Install.exe and specify a location to be installed.