Rainbird, £15.95 disk only


Set in the vicious world of high finance, Corruption explores a topical subject — insider-dealing. To the uninitiated, this illegal practice involves using sensitive, confidential and privileged company information to make a huge profit by buying and selling shares on the Stock Exchange. Buy when the shares are cheap and are going to rise suddenly — before a takeover bid — and sell when the shares are expected to make a sharp drop — just before a company goes bankrupt. The plot thickens with the additional shady dealings in drugs — especially cocaine — which high-powered executives snort through silver straws.

Derek Rogers has just been promoted to a full partner in the stockbroking firm of Rogers and Rogers (Rodgers the Dodgers? — Ed). Along with his new job he also gets a new office, a secretary and the obligatory BMW. But behind this respectable façade David Rogers, Derek’s partner, is up to no good. The Porsche-driving David is up to his neck in corrupt deals and the Fraud Squad are onto his trail. Being of a devious and indeed sinister nature, David decides to frame his unknowing partner, Derek.

The adventure commences on the day of Derek’s promotion. Your cunning colleague is already scheming behind your back, forging evidence which he intends to plant on you. Resorting to violence against this slimy reptile is of no use — hitting him results in David spouting some bad language and knocking you out! When you awaken, you find yourself in a police cell and the Fraud Squad have found the evidence to convict you for insider-dealing. Best to play it thoughtfully.

Derek’s only hope is to recover the evidence to make sure that David grabs the ‘wrong edge of the blade’. An air of mystery and suspense is created by the strange goings-on at the firm. There are odd substances hidden in toilet cisterns and secretaries who won’t even let you use the phone (you’re so well thought of that your office doesn’t have one).

To aid the player in this perplexing scenario, the packaging contains many useful hints in the filofax-style documentation. This includes a helpful diary/address book, a casino gambling chip (!), and a cassette containing conversations between David and Derek. Also recorded on the cassette is some pleasant Corruption (not corrupted) music to listen to while you’re wandering around the London streets.

As in previous Magnetic Scrolls adventures, Corruption features a highly sophisticated parser which is necessary for the extensive character interaction involved in proving Derek’s innocence. Problems involving objects are limited mainly to the simple ‘key unlocks door’ type. Derek seems to be able to carry an infinite number of items, removing the all too typical problem of careful object selection. This freedom epitomises the general feel of Corruption, Derek has few restrictions. The real problems involve manipulating the many characters which Derek meets on his travels. Trying to extract valuable clues from them while hiding your devious intent is particularly hard.

Unfortunately, most of the people working at Rogers and Rogers are distinctly curt and unhelpful. Miss Jenkins, David’s secretary, is particularly touchy and can certainly not be trusted. In fact she seems virtually illiterate and blurts out things like ‘You’re confusing me wiv all them big words’. (Get your LMLWD out, luv — Ed.) The only thing she knows is how to shred David’s incriminating documents, whilst the only things she can file are her nails!

Success can only be achieved by being cunning and daring — search your colleagues’ offices while they’re out. Mind you, Derek’s plight provokes much sympathy — even his bitchy wife is having an affair with David, and now she wants a divorce. (It doesn’t rain, it pours — Ed.) The poor guy can’t win! With the sinister scenario it’s a relief that the odd bit of humour is present: in the hospital TV room there’s even a teddy bear named Boris, with a stethoscope (could come in useful?) round his neck!(?)

Corruption is a deep and intriguing adventure. Although the Spectrum version lacks the graphics of those on other machines, it loses nothing in atmospheric qualities. The modern setting also makes a refreshing change from the usual diet of mythical scenarios — an extremely professional package which might prove a little too difficult for novices. With so few adventures around, this has got to be one for the adventure alcove.