Hmm. Avalanche. Sounds like this game should be set in Switzerland or somewhere, doesn't it? Fine, but there's one small problem with this - SWitzerland doesn't have wars. They're famous for never, ever having wars, or even noisy arguments for that matter.
I'll put you out of your misery. Avalanche is the name of a World War II operation by the Allies (that's us) to get the Germans (that's the Germans) out of Italy.
The game starts with the Salerno landings in 1943. Basically, thousands of Allies appeared on the beaches and fought their way towards Rome. So the game ends with either the capture of Rome by your bods or the real end of the war in 1945.
You take turns with either a mate or the computer, and the idea is to plan what you want to do with your troops while he's moving his, then move yours while he's planning. Easy peasy, eh? Well, shifting divisions of tanks around is pretty easy actually. All you need to do is select your troops using the flashing cursor, then move them to the correct area. They remember where they're going, even if it takes more than one turn, so its all pretty quick.
IS IT LIKE ANY OTHER WARGAME?
Funny you should say that, because it's a fair bit like Battle Of The Bulge, which was also by CCS. In fact, it's the same game system, so it looks very similar apart from the fact that it's got different place names.
But this isn't really important, because the whole strategy of Avalanche is different from any other CCS game. It's set on a peninsula somewhere in Italy so there's loads of water around. This means that you can't run away from the enemy in any direction, unless you actually want your divisions to perish in the Mediterranean. So its all down to strategy and tactics.
Y'see, the whole thing's got immense historical relevance. The real event happened pretty much as it does in this game, although you've got the option to muck around with some of the historical facts. For example, you can have the Italians on either your side or with the enemy (whether you're playing the Allies or Germany). Given their military record, it makes more sense to have them on the opposing side. Hem hem.
SOUND AND GRAPHICS ALRIGHT, ARE THEY?
Compared to many games of this ilk, they most certainly are. The whole game is played on one map which scrolls at just the right speed in four directions. There are mountains, roads, towns, ports and airfields all over the place. There's also loads of little troop, tank and half-track icons dotted about. Every time you have a go, the situation advances a week. So it takes about three weeks, or three turns, to cross from one side of Italy to the other. For a marching army, this sounds pretty reasonable.
Whilst the graphics aren't bad, the sound is pretty poor. But what do you expect in a game like this? There are beeps to tell you if you've done something wrong, and explosions for heavy bombardments. Machine-gun sounds for big battles might have been a nice touch, but you'd probably get really sick of them by your fifth battle.
The actual game-play is a lot of fun. It doesn't take you long to amass some serious firepower which you can then chuck at the enemy. One thing that is rather annoying is that when units are in combat, the game doesn't tell you what damage they're doing to each other. You can click on any of your units afterwards to find out how strong they are, but in the heat of battle you can only sit there and grit your teeth.
All told, Avalanche is a pretty good wargame. I especially liked the speed of it. There's no faffing around and as each turn only takes about two minutes, you can move swiftly on to the next bout of fighting. The two skill levels mean that you can win without the brain of a Montgomery or the moustache and stupid haircut of a Hitler.
The best way to play is to rope in a gullible friend. Halfway through the game, make a peace agreement with him and send him of to the kitchen to make some tea. While he's out of the room you can wipe out his entire tank division, leaving his left flank seriously weakened. When he comes back, finish his troops off in front of him and wait for a cup of tea to land in your lap.
Yes folks, Avalanche is a definite war game for the definite wargame fan.
Why not visit Italy this Christmas? It'll be a lovely holiday, especially if you win.
BLURB - Will probably need to overwrite.
10 FACTS ABOUT ITALY1. It's filled with Romans and Italians.2. It changes the Government about twice a week.3. It's shaped sort of like a boot.4. Whereas Sicily, at the 'toe', is shaped a little like a flattened kidney.5. Italians are very shiny and shout and wave their arms a lot.6. Iceland has had a traditional territorial dispute with Italy.7. But they haven't gone to war.8. Because they'll both lose. Y'see, both are a bit crap, military speaking.9. In fact Italy's a bit crap.10. Except for Linda's mum, who's Italian and not crap at all.
The great thing about big armies is they can move wherever they want. I mean, who's going to stop them?
Oo-er. The fighting around Pisa is causing it to lean even more. It's going to fall! Aah, run away!
It's more fun when everybody joins in. Here's a merry party in full swing!