is a markedly different offering from the other SSI
wargames reviewed of late. Rather than being a large-scale
strategy game, it relies heavily on a tactical approach,
being a series of scenarios based on the activities
of Easy Company of the First Infantry Division in WW
II. You take the role of company commander and issue
orders to six man fire teams in any of eight small scale
engagements. Apart from the eight scenarios being individually
playable, they may he combined chronologically to become
a campaign game.
rules book is one of the best I've ever encountered.
Apart from the mechanics of the game being explained
in crisp and coherent detail, profiles of the various
fire team leaders are given to enable you to judge their
likely performance in combat, a clever and interesting
feature. Also, historical notes are provided with 'Night
of St Anne', an account of a post Normandy engagement
by a company commander. It highlights excellently the
kind of difficulties troops encounter in close quarter
combat. Designer's notes are also included along with
suggested strategies for each of the scenarios involved.
important to get your men to cover as soon
as possible or casualties will start to mount.
of the first things to strike you about this game is
the detail and flexibility. Units have weapons ranging
from knives to mortars (each side having their own specific
weaponry). Units are displayed to show whether they
are a mortar crew, machine gun crew, or whatever, and
the differing effects of the weapons used are accurately
taken into account. Tanks and anti-tank weaponry are
also dealt with. American forces may use forward observers
and engineers, but these have limited use depending
on the scenario.
order phases are designed in such a way that the player
may take advantage of a lucky break almost immediately,
adding pace and realism to the extent of control available
to a commander in such a tight situation. The screen
design too, is very attractively designed. A redefined
character set lends an authentic atmosphere to the game
but, more importantly, the gameplay is very user friendly.
Messages constantly appear to tell you which units may
be ordered and tell you explicitly when something cannot
be done. The clarity of the display and cursor control
make map observations and unit recognition a very easily
assimilated procedure. As cursor control itself is handled
by a joystick, even the total novice can get to grips
with the game before becoming bored or frustrated with
overly complex turn processing.
the campaign game defaults to the second level of complexity
(and because I only have a limited lime to prepare these
reviews), I only played three of the scenarios, all
of which were played at the beginner's level. At first,
I thought victory was easily in my grasp, but the computer
plays the Axis forces well and I found my most powerful
units being cut to shreds before they had been put to
really good use. Retiring to read the designer's notes
and strategy hints (which I should have done in the
first place), I tentatively prepared for the next game.
Moving to the second scenario, Forever Road,
and taking note of the advice from the book, I managed
to gain victory at a cost. In the third scenario, I
was well and truly hammered, but this seemed to be because
of a bad distribution of forces.