Cisco Heat is a very, very strange game. Its title and first screen make you think it will be another hot, illegal race against time, foes, and cops. To be honest, you will face these, but not in the usual way.
Imagine a hot, summer day in San Francisco: while a certain old tune begins to play, hippies walk the street, cars roam the roads, and... a police car flashes down the street. And another, and a few more. You turn your head around, as there was no other vehicle speeding by! What is going on? Who are they chasing? What is this all about?
Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to the greatest challenge of the twentieth century: the Police Car Chase.
The concept is simple: take a few cops, put them in San Francisco, and let them push the pedal to the metal! You can choose between two cars: the Ford LTD Crown Victoria and the Nissan 300ZX. The problem is that there is no real difference between them. They both have two gears: Low gives you a maximum speed of 96 mph, while High lets you rush to the goal at 196 mph. The road is represented by dark and light horizontal rectangles which scroll down to the bottom of the screen. The surroundings are represented by two-dimensional sprites which scale up and down depending on the distance between you and them. It's far from the "exciting realism" promised in an advertisement, yet the illusion it gives is quite good. The sounds are quite nice, and the controls are simple: the cursor keys are used to turn and accelerate, while the space bar lets you change gears. The obstacles in the game are represented by roadsigns, litter, vehicles, and such; not to mention the off-road areas. All of the obstacles will flip you, wasting vital time. While you have seven foes to defeat, time is your greatest enemy. You usually have just over a minute or two to finish the actual stage (of which there are five), so even if you only flip once or twice, you'll barely finish in time. Only the first three or four drivers continue the race.
The game features some famous areas of SF, including but not limited to the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman's Wharf, and Chinatown, with the final goal on Treasure Island. The game lets you know when to turn left or right, with a message at the top of the game's window and a big stop sign. As you advance, there are more and more turns, with more and more obstacles; and the turns aren't as easy as they sound. You can easily bump into a corner which slows you down.
There is no problem running the game with VGA graphics, no sound, and keyboard controls. There are several other versions of this game, including C64, Amiga, Arcade, and a lot more - all of them a bit different! I give it 4 out of 5 points, since it is definitely an adrenalin booster, so I recommend it to everyone seeking some fun and incredible challenges!