Companies often try to work shoot ’em ups in with strategy – most of the time this fails. Narco Police, however, manages to combine the most popular styles of arcade games with a highly convincing strategy element. The Narco Police, as the name suggests, are a drug enforcement unit. Equipped with state-of-the-art weaponry, their purpose is to do battle with drug barons in the by now quite standard not-so-subtle manner. To thwart the world drug problem once and for all, the NPs are planning to storm, via the tunnel network beneath it, the main drug cartel’s island fortress. A twenty strong unit of heavily armed police are to infiltrate three of the five tunnels, which eventually lead to the main HQ. The assault force is divided into three units of five men, with five units in reserve. Each unit uses computers to unlock doors, allowing the others to advance. It’s possible to control fifteen men simultaneously, so you command the lead character of one group, with the other units held in ‘storage’ until you access them. The tunnel graphics are built up in strips. This allows the screen to update smoothly with a good 3D effect. Used in Afterburner and Powerdrift, this technique has never been exploited to its full potential. Alas, it’s the same case here. This slows the game, which is a shame as speed would have made a good product exceptional. However, the graphics for the police are excellent. The large, well animated figure adds immensely to the overall effect of the game, as do the size of the enemy troops you face. A third of the screen is taken up by the command computer. This is used to switch between units, or to check on personnel status, set explosives, use missiles or to call in reinforcements. Above the play area is a group of status windows. These outline the physical shape of the team member currently being controlled and tell you what type of ammo he’s using. Don’t worry if this sounds a bit stuffy, the arcade element is incredibly violent and fun. Had Narco Police been slightly faster it would definitely been a screen star. As it stands it’s an enjoyable, thinking person’s shoot ’em up.

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