A charity race is set in the streets from the California Highway Patrol, in order to find the best police driver (!).
Unfortunately, the infamous tram system seems to have total disregard for the race, and insists on trying to operate its usual service. Not only that, but the law-abiding public can be found non-chalantly trundling along the bumpy roads in their sedans...
The car has only two gears, High and Low (can be switched by pulling up or down and pressing fire on your joystick), enabling you to reach speeds of around 200Kmh (170Mph). You start the race by choosing between two police cars, an old-style 70s Ford or a modern 90s Nissan ZX roadster. During the race, the only 'weapon' you have is your...horn! You can honk until cars ahead move out of your way (but this is not quite effective...). Oh, one last thing.... while dodging the trams and the traffic you also have to be ready for some 45 degrees slopes and 90 degrees bends (that is why, San Francisco is being chosen!) And remember, avoid driving in the middle of the road as much as possible because most of the annoying objects found on your way are in there (such as construction signs, oil leaks etc!). The corners were Cisco Heat's primary claim to arcade fame, an effect that marked it out from the other car racing coin-ops.
Well Cisco Heat has a rather amateurish feel to it, it is far too short to provide a decent amount of joy and in no way competes with similar racers such as, the Lotus series (by EA). But as an original (and quite famous) arcade title, we had to include this game to our taste.
The Atari ST conversion is technically good compared to the arcade in terms of graphics and sound but some unique graphics details are missing (as in all other home-computer versions). The graphics are colorful, and although fail to offer a 3D feel of the trucks and cars you overtake (and surroundings i.e. buildings, trees), the game here runs even faster than the Amiga version! Both road and hills move along quite fast but the vehicles are poorly animated. Note that the game on the ST runs in a smaller gameplay area than the Amiga.
The ST conversion offers some good sound. The introductory and in-game music is nice and for some reason I like it more than the Amiga game (although both versions offer a repetitive in-game tune)! During gameplay there are several sound FX including police sirens and engine roars etc (but not sampled here).