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in the Snow
text of the present article comes from the review published
in the thirteenth issue of the British C64 magazine ZZAP!64
(street date: April 20th, 1986).
IS A TIDE . . .
should be something for everyone in this month's piece
(huh, as if there isn't usually). Simulation stimulation
is provided with a look at Sid Meier's Silent Service,
which puts you in command of a WWII sub. For the traditionalists,
we finally have Tigers in the Snow by SSI and
Iwo Jima by PSS. I also get my comeuppance for
not having appreciated some of the finer details of
Datasoft's Alternate Reality in an interview
with Sam Poole, president of Datasoft.
strange to think that as disk drives are becoming more
popular and in-depth strategy games continue to gain
acceptance in markets on both sides of the Atlantic,
wargaming shows signs of losing out to the popularity
of role playing games. Just as it did in the conventional
market some years ago. Personally, I don't think the
rift will be as great is it was the last lime it happened.
The conventional market had more complications. Board
games were not often very good, and traditional miniatures
were rising in price dramatically. By comparison, role-playing
was relatively cheap. A handful of miniatures sufficed
for most games, as opposed to an entire army. Rules
were cheaply produced and role-playing was more of a
social hobby, there being five or six players to the
average game rather than a two player wargame.
hard to tell where the balance will be in the computer
hobby. Popularity of both areas will probably ebb and
flow for a while. Both types of game tend to be designed
for solo play and both are as cheap (or expensive, depending
on your point of view) to produce. Crossover between
the different types of game is also breaking down any
definable differences. Silent Service for instance,
could be classed as a simulation, or a wargame, or a
role player. In these respects, the strategy gaming
market is in a flexible state at the moment. Considering
the growth of importance in this market, manufacturers
would do well to ensure an open minded attitude to game
design that continues to provide varied products and
reduces the chances of the stagnation that has marred
other types of computer games.
IN THE SNOW
Gold/Transatlantic Simulations (SSI), £9.95 cass,
£14.95 disk, keyboard only
the close of 1944 the remnants of Germany's armed forces
launched one of the most daring counter offensives of
the war. The fighting had slackened in the approach
to Christmas Germany had formed new divisions equipped
with tanks like the Hunting Tiger, that could stop the
shells of all but the most powerful allied weapons.
Finally, they launched their attack in the one place
the allies thought impossible -- the Ardennes. Because
of the dense forests, nobody suspected a massive tank
attack would be possible. As a result, the US had positioned
weak combat-weary units there. The result was a major
breach of the allied frontlines which could have been
catastrophic if it had not been for the fact that the
enemy could not keep their troops adequately supplied.
This factor, coupled with the outstanding resistance
of 7th Armoured Division in St Vith (who's commander
sent the message 'nuts' when asked to surrender whilst
totally outgunned and outmanned) helped create the delaying
action necessary for the allied forces.
other words, one great subject for a wargame . . .
this is rather old stock as far as SSI are concerned,
but it is also one of the first to be repackaged in
the Transatlantic Simulation guise, intended as the
format for all future licensed SSI releases. A slim,
gatefold disk package means that SSI's traditionally
chunky instruction books have had to be reduced to a
glossy colour, fold out insert -- not the easiest of
items to refer to whilst playing, especially as there
is no reference card. Still, the instructions are legible
and a map of the play area, is back printed onto them.
is the norm with even these relatively early SSI games,
the player is offered a wealth of options for play.
Either the German or Allied side may be chosen, a two-player
option exists and the computer may be asked to play
against itself. Levels of difficulty for each side may
also be selected before the game commences. These reflect
how many combat points are added to or subtracted from
the historically accurate combat values of each side's
units. Two versions of the game may be played. One is
the Bastogne - St Vith scenario covering the period
up to the sixteenth of December, and the other is the
campaign scenario which runs until the 27th. Victory
is based on a victory point system which varies depending
on the game selected.
you select the Allied forces, the game begins in the
middle of a turn with the German units heading directly
to combat. It is in their interests to reach the Western
map edge as soon as possible, in order to gain she most
victory points. To help both sides make the moves they
feel most in their interests, a possible four attack
and four defense strategies may be made for each unit.
Basically, these determine the level of ferocity at
which the units will enter combat. The harder these
strategies are put to use, the more likely there will
be a computer-controlled modification to the original
thorough rules system accommodates such details as weather
(variable but reasonably historically accurate), air
support, artillery fire (handled on a points basis),
advance after combat and zones of control. Logistics
play an important part (especially where the Germans
are concerned), as does the effect of the terrain. Anybody
looking for detail and authenticity will find plenty
of it in this game. One of the main complications in
play is the result of not having joystick control. Because
of the hex system employed, units follow a numerically
input direction order and various long drawn out key
pressing routines. Ah well, all this was written in
the time when people thought all you could do to a window
was double glaze it.
than this, however, is the confusing rules leaflet.
Sections of rules are repeated for no apparent reason.
Terrain is explained, but unit identification markers
are not -- in which case why have them? Other than victory
point totals, little is explained in the way of victory
in the different scenarios, and sloppiness and ambiguities
in basic instructions make the handling of units quite
difficult for those with little previous experience
of such games. In fact, the general tardiness of the
physical presentation is a great letdown.
play itself, things get better. The map is fairly
easy to follow and you soon know which units can
do what. Play can become quite fast once familiarity
with the keyboard is gained, though the length
of the game does not demand speed. A whole game
could easily be played in an evening. Of course,
there are saved game options anyway.
Tigers in the Snow is beginning to show
its age. It lacks features prevalent in more recent
SSI fare and has more faults than any I've reviewed
so far. Having said that, it's important to see
this game in perspective, It's weak by SSI standards,
but it will be a while before anyone else comes
out with a better simulation of this era, methinks.
par but still fairly good.
ID markers and stuff. Shame about the screen redrawing
instead of scrolling.
Very untidy and badly explained.
The game's integrity doesn't suffer
as a result of poor presentation features.
Tricky at first because of the
unit control, but you soon get used to it.
For Money 87%
An old but good game at a fair
Kiminas (1 May 2004)
"Games of the Week!"