I haven't seen any of the "Death Wish" movies, but from what I understand, the plot is pretty much the same for any of them:
(1) Thugs riot, and a member of Paul Kersey's family is optionally killed by thugs
(2) Kersey shoots all the thugs
(3) A (happy?) ending.
So with such a B-grade action movie plot to go on, you'd be right to expect that this game promises a high body count. By golly, you'd be right.
With all Kersey's family already dead, and with the movie writers out of plot ideas, thugs are simply let loose on New York for Deathwish III. Anyway, your mission as vigilante Paul Kersey, is to put down as many riots as possible by killing thug leaders. Why are the thugs rioting, I hear you ask? High gas prices? Protesting against the war? High unemployment? .... well I have absolutely no idea... but my guess is that it's just opportunistic looting, just like the London riots. The London riots could have been far more bloody with a heavily armed vigilante let loose, as it is in this game!
Your player is armed with a kevlar vest and an arsenal of weaponry that only the military should have - such as a rocket launcher and machine gun!
For some weak and silly plot consideration, the police let you carry it around in plain sight in order to help them. If you run out of ammo, you can even find more guns just lying around in people's houses. I guess you should be thankful for the second amendment.
Graphically, aside from the dull backdrops, the violence is fairly detailed. Let fire at thugs with the RPG launcher and you will satisfyingly blow people into little red bits! With your machine gun, you can pump enemies full of lead and watch them shudder from each penetrating bullet before they collapse over dead.
Yes, this graphical violence was honestly quite controversial at the time, and certainly raised the eyebrows of people worried about "videogame nasties" and the detrimental effect this would have on children... but if anything just encouraged the next generation of game designers to push the boundaries of videogame violence further with better computer graphics technology. Deathwish III is nothing really compared with the likes of the Grand Theft Auto series (which improved vastly on the premise of this game), or the gratitious violence of the Mortal Kombat series.
Anyway, to put down riots, you have to find the house the riot leader is in and shoot him. The closer you are to him, the more thugs you will find on-screen. Half the trouble is navigating around the city to get to him with the on-screen map! Left and right on the joystick does what it's supposed to do, but up and down movements cause you and the map to rotate. Additionally, the map also can locate more weapons and armor for you. It's just that the map implementation is very disorientating and frustrating as it's hard to know where to go. Additionally, the game controls include a few keys on the keyboard, all of which are unintuitive.
The biggest problem with this game is that there's not all that much to do other than to kill thugs and locate riot-leaders. You can even enter houses and shoot thugs from the window, but there's no real point in doing that as it drains your ammo and doesn't achieve much. You really have to be conservative with your ammunition to defend yourself and be careful to not shoot grannies or cops. A negative score will have them turn against you.
There are some other characters on the street too, such as undertakers that drag corpses off the screen, and prostitutes that flash their legs as they walk past, but both are invulnerable to fire. When you've put down riots, the streets empty of thugs and fill with grannies and prostitutes, giving your character a break from the action to recover from injuries. This break time is short-lived, as riots reappear fairly often.
Once you put down one riot, another pops up somewhere else, and there is no end to the game. Neither does the game difficulty increase in any way to make it more challenging. In fact, the game is actually quite easy if you keep your focus on locating weapons and riot-leaders, and you can end up playing for quite a long time - but it's unlikely you'll want to. In fact, the gameplay simply revolves around navigating the map while killing lots and lots of people on the way - just like an endless game of whack-a-mole, but less fun. This gets quite boring and repetitive after a while as you can imagine. It's rather disappointing. The game designers could have implemented a way to complete the game, introduced a time limit, or increased game difficulty after more riots had been put down, but no. Despite there being easy ways to improve the gameplay without too much extra coding, it just wasn't considered.
To summarise, once you get over the initial shock value of watching 8-bit sprites being blown to bits, there's not much left here to entertain or interest you, other than an exercise in maze navigation. If you're a sadist and like killing and shooting things without having to think too much, you may extract some pleasure, only to be insulted by the frustrating map navigation bits. Let's not forget that this game was attempting to emulate a B-grade action movie, so the bar was never set very high from the beginning! Thank goodness there wasn't a conversion of "Death Wish" or "Death Wish II"!
Downloads: Music, Advert
|GRAPHICS - 6/10|
|It's certainly a visual treat to see blocky sprites being gibbed to death, or shudder as they are peppered with machine gun fire. The backgrounds and everything else is drab, samey, and uninteresting however.|
|SOUND - 7/10|
|Not such a bad soundtrack from Daglish. Very catchy, and you'll find yourself humming it... although it probably doesn't suit the game's atmosphere too well. |
|PLAYABILITY - 5/10|
|Once you sate your sadism by blowing people to blocky 8-bits, there's a dull maze game to play that isn't all that hard, somewhat frustrating, very repetitive, and not all that much fun.|
|OVERALL - 6/10|
|Only to be played if you have a death wish! You could die of boredom.|