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MC Lothlorien Ltd
Keith Hunt
1984
Tactical Combat
£5.95
Multiple languages (see individual downloads)
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

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69
Derek Brewster
Chris Bourne

This adventure wargame set in the latter days of World War II has you searching a vast complex beneath an enemy compound where a new and highly secret weapon is nearing completion. Intelligence reports suggest the weapon carries a bacteriological virus and it may well prove necessary to destroy it - lets hope it's a 99% household germ. Early on you set a time limit for one of the objectives (there's a whole string of them) - say 60 hours - which becomes the rendezvous time for your pickup transport plane. The time elapsed since the start of the mission is constantly displayed in hours and minutes. Different actions and skills consume differing amounts of time; moving through the forest is more arduous than moving through the complex. The instructions suggest you create excitement by giving yourself a more limited time than the maximum allowed.

There are 30 skills to choose from including for example Biologist, Electronics, Explosives, Midget and Acrobat. The Leader is assumed proficient in all skills but the strain of the mission limits their use. All other characters have lust two skills with their main skill used to describe the character, e.g., Chemist. At any one time in the mission you only have the use of three skills so choosing the four members of your team and when to make use of each skill is important to the success of the mission. To help you make a wise selection of team members you have time for eight interviews which reveal secondary skills, e.g., the Physicist might also be a Doctor, after which process you must select your team and set off. Your final choice is between the seven different objectives of varying difficulty. Once you've finally finished selecting time, team and objective you then have a curious one minute wait while the computer frantically assembles a game good enough to justify all the hard work you've done.

Much of the play is centred around the three main scenarios of forest, compound and complex.

You are parachuted into the centre of the forest close to the target area and your position is denoted with a flashing square. A key to the forest features can be summoned up onto the bottom of the screen while you try to distinguish between the similar looking blobs in squares. To move you might type in ms to move south and it wouldn't be long before you found yourself up against an enemy patrol.

During combat your men are shown at the bottom of the skirmish zone map as numbers 1 (the Leader) to 5 and the enemy are represented by varying numbers at the top. Each of your men selects a target and can then move two squares to either get into a better firing position or take cover. In order to hit a target there must be a dear line of sight unobstructed by trees or men.

You can actually see your projectile pass across the screen but its path appears erratic due to character block movement - this looks primitive in these days of sprite graphics.

You possess an aerial photograph of the compound but your position on the map only shows as much as you can see on the ground. The entrance to the underground complex lies in the centre of the compound and is heavily guarded. The photograph you have obtained only succeeds in convincing you of the foolishness of the mission.

Special Operations is a dauntingly complex wargame with simple character block graphics. The instructions do little to make the game any easier to play and so it takes quite some time before you can achieve any degree of success.

Difficulty: Difficult to complete
Graphics: Yes
Presentation: Good
Input Facility: Very limited
Response: Good
Special Features: This is an unusual adventure/wargame

CRITICISM

General Rating: Average.

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