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PSS
John Bethell
1986
Strategy: War
£7.95
Multiple languages (see individual downloads)
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

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53
Chris Bourne
Chris Bourne

YOMP. Yomp yomp yomp. Don't cry for me, sergeant major, this time it's only a game. Falklands 82 is PSS' contribution to Anglo-Argentinian relations. You, needless to say, play the British in your attempt to recapture the Falkland Islands and make the world a safer place.

The PSS game is really quite competent, if not in the same league as Desert Rats. You control the British Land forces for the final part of the war, the 25 odd days from the landing at San Carlos to the capture of Port Stanley.

The screen shows a map of the north-eastern Falklands. The whole map occupies about half of the screen, and units are represented by single character squares showing a foot-soldier, tank or field gun depending on type. Terrain is the usual simple graphics for mountains, settlements - why aren't Falklanders allowed to have towns? - and rough country. Argentinian units remain hidden until you walk into them or they choose to reveal their positions by moving or attacking you.

The rules are very simple, and the ridiculously overblown explanation in the 18 page rulebook is off-putting and mainly redundant. Basically, each unit has an attack factor, a defence factor, a movement rate and range. The first is also the unit's strength, the second is modified by terrain, as is the third, and the fourth is how far the unit can attack. Artillery gets six squares, tanks and the like two, while infantry has to be next to a unit to attack it.

You can also call in air strikes and gunfire from offshore ships as and when weather permits. You allocate a number of ships to these duties at the beginning, and if the main fleet is badly attacked by the Argentinian air force, then the Harriers will not be available for land duties. The weather tends to get increasingly bad as the game goes on, so strafe everything you can early on. These facilities are triggered by the Attack command, so even if a unit is out of range it can still call in an air strike or barrage as long as it does not move.

Only one unit is allowed on a square at a time, so bottlenecks can easily occur. Since you can't move and attack at the same time you will tend to take initial casualties when advancing on Argentinian positions - it's wise to soften them up first with shelling.

The objective is not to destroy all the Argentinian units but to re-occupy all the settlements. If you waste time attacking irrelevant Argentinians, you will run out of time - the game must be over between 25 and 30 moves, depending on the difficulty factor.

By wargame standards, Falklands 82 is reasonably swift. It's very easy to play, and has some nice touches such as using the SAS and SBS to reconnoitre potential landing sites at the beginning of the game. What I find difficult to swallow is the idea that I might lose. The Falklands War was one of the most one-sided affairs imaginable and the outcome was hardly in doubt.

You can elect to play at masochist level - the PSS description - which gives a good tough game but the strength of the Argentinian units seems way out of proportion with reality. At the lower levels, though, it's easy to beat the Argentinians as long as you remember to go for the settlements and not for the enemy units, except when they threaten you.

That said, Falklands 82 is a good wargame for beginners, and hard to beat at the top level. Presentation is not excellent, but clear and adequate for the scale of the game. It's certainly a lot better than the Midway game I last reviewed from PSS.

It's a pity, though, that you can't play on the Argentinian side. Maybe PSS thought it might be a bit tasteless, but by those standards all wargames are in dubious taste anyway. I should rather have liked to have a go, myself...

Chris Bourne

Publisher: PSS
Price: £7.95
Memory: 48K

****

4/5

Screenshot Text

Above is the initial map with four possible landing sites marked. Below is the situation after four moves. The British have made a slow start after landing at San Carlos water. The Special Boat Squadron is about to call a Harrier attack on an Argentinian unit.