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  Review by
Nik Wild
(The Harlequin)

 

 
Welcome to Game of the Week! Each week there will be a new featured game on this page. The game may be good, average or diabolically bad, it really doesn't matter! Just look at the pics, read the text and enjoy the nostalgia! :-) Game of the Week! is open to contributions so if you would like to contribute a game article for this page you're more than welcome to! Every article we receive will be considered!

Border Zone
1987 Infocom
By Marc Blank

 
Most text of the present article comes from the review published in the thirty fifth issue of the British C64 magazine ZZAP!64 (street date: February 11th, 1988).
 

 


The Harlequin casts his masked gaze over Jinxter from Magnetic Scrolls, Datasoft's graphic adventure Gunslinger, Infocom's borderline Borderzone and Alternative Software's Football Frenzy. And there's hope in the Vale for lost souls, plus more of that Kayleth solution. So gird your diamond-studded loins . . .
.

BORDERZONE
Infocom, 19.99 disk only

 

ehind the Iron Curtain lies a world of espionage, intrigue, devious plots and death, and Infocom's Borderzone takes the player into this atmosphere of spy vs spy with a 'real-time' adventure full of thrills, spills and suspense.


Bordezone is written in three chapters -- The Train, The Border and The Assassination -- which are played in any order, though the game works best when they're tackled in sequence. Each chapter is played against the clock, which is set to run quickly or slowly to suit the player's nerves.

THE TRAIN
Clattering along a wintry landscape in a draughty train compartment, the player is on his way to Vienna via the (fictitious) neutral country of Litzenburg, lulled into a restful doze by the rhythm of the train's movement. But his simple life is suddenly made more interesting when a wounded American spy enters the compartment and hands him a document.

The American explains that he has been discovered by the authorities and must escape the train. He asks that the document be delivered to his contact on the platform of Litzenburg station, confiding that this will help prevent the assassination of a top-ranking American diplomat. His departure is swift and leaves no time for argument, and the player has little choice but to do as he asks.

The essential idea of The Train is to hide all evidence of the meeting with the American spy and of his document, avoid arousing the authorities' suspicions, leave the train without being followed and safely deliver the document to the contact.

This first scenario is a little disappointing -- it's quite easy to complete, involving only eight locations, and is over very quickly. The only challenge is remembering to do everything to cover one's tracks, such as hiding the film and removing the bloodstain.

THE BORDER
In the second part the player changes character -- now you're the injured American spy who left the train rather hurriedly in the first section. The spy finds himself cold and alone near the border, and has to get across without being discovered.

Hampered by tracker dogs, guards and a mysterious group of men in a car, the American has to traverse dark forests, swamps and deep snow before attempting the border crossing. There's also the injury to his left arm and the biting cold to overcome.

This chapter is played in 'fast time', although thankfully it can be slowed down if the pace becomes too hectic (which it does).

Once again, the general idea is to cover your tracks and carefully avoid discovery. But the actual puzzle content is very limited and instant arrests are far too common.

THE ASSASSINATION
In the third chapter of Borderzone, the player is a third character -- a double agent trying to prevent the assassination of the American diplomat while making the KGB think he's actually planning it. The action takes place in and around Ostnotz square in Litzenburg, packed with security forces. Moving around and exploring the area is dangerous and, once again, great care must be taken not to arouse suspicion.

Borderzone is unusual in its subject matter, but Infocom implement it very well and succeed in giving the player a feeling of being there. The game comes with those now-expected little extras that Infocom provide with their adventures -- a book of matches, a business card, a map and a very amusing phrase book/tourist guide.

However, it's much too easy, and I'm not sure I like the built-in hint system (I prefer invisiclues). Apparently this is a marketing ploy -- the player succumbs to the temptation of reading the hints, quickly finishes the game and soon needs another Infocom product to play! Yet perhaps Infocom are releasing too many games, and should sit back on their laurels and come up with some deeper plots.

 
Atmosphere 89%
Interaction 85%
Challenge 75%

Overall

84%
 


If you want a walkthrough, visit
Jacob Gunness
' Classic Adventures Solution Archive or
Martin Brunner's C64 Adventure Game Solutions Site

Htmlized by Dimitris Kiminas (6 Mar 2006)
There were no screenshots in the original review.

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