1 player, horizontal game
Atari Corp., for the Atari Lynx
The story sounds familiar, almost like it came from a movie: Detective Larry has just gotten chewed out by the chief, then sent off to bring in Mr. Snuff, first lieutenant to the city's kingpin of crime. The big man doesn't like this, though, and sends his legions of psychopaths and gang members to stop the cop. Larry's got a simple answer to crime scum -- he wields his .45 and blows it away. But can even "Dirty" Larry survive long enough to deal with Mr. Big once and for all?
That's Larry, not Harry, but you get the idea. DIRTY LARRY: RENEGADE COP puts you in the shoes of a hard-boiled gumshoe who walks, jumps, and ducks through seven side-scrolling stages, fighting everyone in sight. Larry's fists are always available, but he's equally proficient with handguns, rifles, and grenades. You have one life to live, and once you lose it, the game ends. For your sake, Larry can take a number of hits, and icons found along the way will restore some of his health.
There's a difference between game pace and game speed. Someone at Atari got the two confused, and decided to make DIRTY LARRY a high-speed title, a move that effectively ruins the game balance. The computerized criminals attack far too quickly, and Larry has no effective way to protect himself or dodge attacks. His only recourse, therefore, is to shoot the criminals before they come close, meaning that Larry's fine as long as he has ammunition. Once he's out, he gets trounced.
Larry himself is also too fast; a typical player can fly through a scene in three minutes or less. The game has only seven levels, and the criminals, extra ammo, and health icons all appear in a fixed order. Combine all of these factors, and this card soon becomes a test in how well the player can memorize appearances and conserve bullets. A savvy player can finish this title without too much effort, but that same player would not care for the game's too-short duration.
Weak as the game is, the graphics in DIRTY LARRY are no slouch, and put some other titles to shame. The sprite animation is only average, but the graphics feature incredible use of color and detail: shadows in the alleys, lights rushing by in the subway, torn wallpaper, and lots more. A few animated intermissions advance the plot as well. Sound effects, though, are not half as impressive. The title theme is above average, but actual game sounds consist mostly of gunfire, assorted thuds, and a few miscellaneous effects.
Conceptually, DIRTY LARRY had the ingredients to be a easy, no-nonsense action title. Unfortunately, the game balance got thrown out of sync, and the final result lies in video limbo: young players will be turned off by the difficulty of the game, and experienced gamers will finish it too quickly.
GAMEPLAY: 5.5 GRAPHICS: 8.5 SOUND: 5.5 OVERALL: 5.5