Cannon Fodder

The ideal choice for warm-hearted warmongers, Cannon Fodder puts the ‘ahh’ back into artillery

War is usually depicted as a hellish experience: loud, dirty, confusing and generally pretty unpleasant for all involved. It's not often described as 'quite cute' or 'a bit of a laugh'. Still, these are precisely the words that ought to be dangling around Cannon Fodder's neck. On dogtags, obviously. Not one of those girly chains. Although maybe...

Equal parts Platoon and South Park, this conversion of a classic home computing war game truly lives up to the "war has never been so much fun" theme. Whether they're picking off jungle patrols, steering skidoos through arctic wastelands or simply lobbing grenades at guard-huts (and sending the doors flying) the miniature military under your control rarely fail to raise a smile. Heck, they even die in a fairly humorous way, issuing a cry and being propelled violently away from the gunshot with blood trailing... Well it amused us, anyway, but let's not dwell on that.

The entertainment is further extended by some intelligent and increasingly challenging level designs - which involve the use of vehicles and more advanced weaponry like rockets - and some wonderful details like the way the body counts are tallied up as home vs away scores as in a footie match or the tongue in cheek mission names.

Unfortunately the control system, though in many ways as brave as your shrimpy soldiers, isn't quite as charming (having suffered the equivalent of a shrapnel wound en route to the mobile phone). The process of manoeuvring your troops across land and sea (either singularly or as a group) involves rotating a cursor (controlled by left and right on joypad or 4/6 keys) and then pushing up (or 2) to actually move and 5 to fire in the direction indicated. Whilst this is undeniably effective in allowing you to select a very specific direction of fire, it too frequently introduces annoying delays and misdirections in the heat of battle leaving you pointed in the wrong direction and unable to turn and fire before you yourself are picked off. This is further compounded by a rather temperamental secondary fire control (used for grenades and rockets) which either demands you find precisely the right spot to fire from or fails to operate completely again leading to your demise more often than not.

Although both of these niggles can be combated by a more ponderous tactical approach, and neither is enough to prevent you from wanting to keep playing on to the next mission (especially when you have a nearly unlimited amount of Cannon Fodder, sorry 'brave troopers', at your disposal), they are more than capable of wiping the smile from your face, particularly on the multi-part missions. Once the smoke from your ears has cleared however, the sheer joy of battle will ensure that you'll struggle to resist taking just one more incursion into enemy territory.

6 / 10

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